Monday, September 22, 2014

Public Ed Stories (with a tie-in to our discussions)

One story is absolutely horrifying and appalling and ties right into the situation around the Garfield field trip incident. 

The other story is about how treating more kids as "gifted" makes them perform better.

The rape story from the Huffington Post:

An Alabama middle school is accused of using a special-needs student as “bait” in a sting operation that allegedly led to her rape. 

The allegations resurfaced last week when the Department of Justice filed a brief saying the Alabama District Court made a mistake by dismissing the lawsuit brought by the girl's parents, WAFF reports.
The botched sting was set in motion in January 2010 after the 14-year-old student at Sparkman Middle School told a teacher's aide that a fellow special-needs student, a 16-year-old boy, had propositioned her for sex in the bathroom. The 16-year-old had a months-long history of sexual harassment and violent behavior, according to court documents obtained by

A teacher's aide thought up the plan but it unraveled when the boy took the girl to a different bathroom than the one the aide was hiding in. 

She said the school was worried about the boy in question to the point of wanting to "catch him in the act."  They felt they could not just use the word of any single girl and had to have witness accounts.

Multiple girls complained about the boy but the school felt if they didn't have video and photos that they could do nothing.  The school could not take any girl's word for it.

Just like the Garfield incident, the victim, who had been getting good grades, went into a depression.  The boy was temporarily sent to an alternative school and then sent back to the same middle school. 

Just like the Garfield incident, no criminal charges were made but the victim's family filed a lawsuit against the administrators.  The aide resigned but the vice-principal at the time was promoted to be a principal at another school and the middle school's principal remains at her job.

I heard about this first on CNN where they brought in a lawyer who is an expert in Title IX.  The lawyer, Wendy Murphy, had been writing about issues around sexual harassment and Title IX since at least 2006.  From her webpage:

Schools are free to be over-inclusive because they are not the government, which doesn’t mean fairness to offenders isn’t important but only the receiver of harm has civil rights at stake when rape happens on campus.  There are no civil rights at stake for an offender who, for example, commits an act of racist violence on campus. Racists may have a right to be treated fairly during the disciplinary process, but such claims stand on lower moral and legal ground compared to the harm endured by the receiver of civil rights harm.

In my opinion, the ideal school policy is very simple and should take up only a couple of pages.  A single, unitary civil rights policy should forbid all forms of harm “on the basis of” who a student is.  Whatever rules apply to harm based on race and national origin, etc., should apply to sex (thus ALL forms of violence against women defined as covered by SaVE.)

This is not complicated – though making policies SEEM complicated is part of the obfuscation tactic that has made sexual assault such an intractable problem.

The story on how to treat more students as gifted made me recall that one elementary school - Maple, I think it was - HAD tried an experiment to treat all kids as Spectrum students, going faster and deeper.  They had great outcomes (and a story in the Times detailed this) but it also meant more PD and teacher collaboration and push came to shove with the budget and Maple stopped doing it.  That Maple had great outcomes didn't seem to matter to the district and, to the best of my knowledge, it was never tried again.

The name of the project was Project Bright Idea. From Duke Today:

Schools that seek to help students who are underrepresented in advanced programs should treat them as gifted young scholars, an approach that can result in many of them actually performing at a gifted level within a few years, according to a U.S. Dept. of Education study of a North Carolina program.

Developed by researchers at Duke University with state educators, the five-year study of 10,000 kindergarteners and first- and second-graders suggests that raising expectations could be a key to enhancing the academic performance of at-risk students nationwide.

That's a lot of kids to be in a study.

The pilot ran from 2004 to 2009 and included K-2 classrooms in Title 1 schools in 11 school districts with cohorts of more than 5,000 students in Bright Idea and 5,000 students in the control groups. As each cohort completed the research, the project was expanded to other classes and schools in the districts, including middle and high schools. 

Project Bright Idea was funded by the U.S. Department of Education's Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. 

About the project:

Project Bright IDEA 2 has four goals: 
1) to scale-up the activities of Bright IDEA 1 toward increasing the number of gifted students from underserved populations via changing the dispositions and capacity of teachers to wisely use curricula tailored to teaching those students; 
2) to study the extent to which such activities increase the number of third grade students from underrepresented populations who enroll in gifted programs; 
3) to advance the quality of these students’ meta-cognitive and cognitive skills; and 
4) to create a research-based multi-dimensional, pre-identification model for gifted intelligent behaviors (GIB’s) based on the Costa and Kallick’s Habits of Mind and on Frasier’s Traits, Attributes and Behaviors

Bright IDEA 2 teachers and principals create scholarly environments that engage students actively and consistently in sophisticated investigations of materials, texts, and in learning tasks that require them to understand and apply critical and creative processes that are quite advanced for K-2 students. 

Students are engaged in centers designed around multiple intelligences with task rotations integrated with four major learning styles. 

Before project Bright IDEA 2 began its work in 2004 in the 6 counties of Cohort-1, essentially no students from their schools were nominated to Gifted and Talented programs from underrepresented populations. 

Due to the mere requirement of participating schools to recommend students, 72 (10%) third graders who graduated from non-Bright IDEA classes were nominated. 

With this positive change in mind, the impact of Bright IDEA on its 2nd grade graduates was astonishing - 88 (24%!) third graders who were taught by Bright IDEA second grade teachers were nominated for Gifted and Talented programs. That is, one in every four students from Bright IDEA classes developed the multi-intelligence powers needed for being nominated. 

THIS is how you make a better gifted program, find/create more advanced learning student,s and create a school that has teachers working collaboratively.  Clearly, it can be done but it takes time and the investment of dollars/willingness to do the work.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for keeping the Garfield rape in the public’s mind. The District would like us to forget it. You wrote: “Just like the Garfield incident, the victim, who had been getting good grades, went into a depression. The boy was temporarily sent to an alternative school and then sent back to the same middle school.”

Correct. Our daughter experienced far more than depression. She experienced such disabling PTSD from the assault that she had to go into residential treatment for rape trauma in another state. Her whole world fell apart after her school treated her like a second class citizen, as we detailed to US Dept of Education, OCR (Stop Sexual Assault in High School FB July 16 post). One of the reasons she needed another environment was because the school district ceased communicating with us about accommodations after they offered to transfer her (not the assailant) with the rape as the basis. She also was forced to leave Garfield because the District failed to address retaliation as required by Title IX. Her whole world fell apart. Unlike the AL case, the valued Garfield athlete was never transferred. Despite his history of having sex (consensual?) during school hours at Mercer Middle School in 2010 (8th grade), his Garfield 2012 story of consensual sex/sodomy was nevertheless privileged by Principal Ted Howard. Howard refused to tell the victim, as Title IX requires, that the assailant had been temporarily emergency so the victim could have returned to school. She was naturally terrified of seeing him at school. The school district entirely ignored its Title IX requirements that would have remedied this horrible situation. As a result, her entire high school education and everything she had built for herself was destroyed.

After giving the victim a 504 plan for PTSD and a transfer with the rape as the basis (which she couldn’t use owing to refusal to specify accommodations), the District then reversed itself a year later and decided that she hadn’t even been sexually harassed, let alone sexually assaulted. This after reading the assailant’s admission of rape and the medical reports. All of these rape stories are so horrible that none of us can afford to remain silent. It can happen to anyone.

See Sexual Assault Case Documents:


mosfet said...

Thanks for posting about the "treat all students as gifted" program! Interesting article. Intelligence and high-order thinking, I believe, are part nature, part nurture, and part practice.

Anonymous said...

GHS update:

Teflon Teddy has just issued the decree that there will be no overnight trips this year. No away games for his athletes? No Essentially Ellington for his jazz band? No orchestra competitions? Punish the kids to CYA instead of taking true responsibility for your past actions and for keeping kids safe going forward. This is just Garfield, not district wide, so take it away, Roosevelt, and bring it home for all of us in Seattle.

open ears