Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Thurgood Marshall wants a change in HC policy

The principal of Thurgood Marshall Elementary School is asking the Board to change the policy that governs Highly Capable and Advanced Learning. She wants the Board to amend the policy to allow delivery methods other than self-contained classes for Social Studies among other changes. The principal has solicited support from the Thurgood Marshall community to lobby the Board to make the change.

Here is her letter to the Thurgood Marshall community:

Dear Thurgood Marshall Family:

Our PTA is sending out the notes from our last parent coffee, when we discussed our Social Studies plans for next year. We will have a strong curricular focus on Social Studies next year, and as you know, are hoping to integrate our General Education and HCC student for Social Studies classes next year. Because our Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) is a self-contained program, we need approval from the district to be able to blend our classes. Our School Board Curriculum and Instruction committee discussed this in early June, but was not ready to make a recommendation about this change at that time. They will meet again on August 15 at the John Stanford Center Conference room to discuss a change to the HCC policy which would allow school sites to apply for a waiver to the self-contained model for social studies.
Current Language: The Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) is available to all students identified as Highly Capable in grades K-8. This self-contained, K-8 program provides a rigorous curriculum in language arts, social studies, mathematics and science.
Proposed Language: The Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) service model is self-contained in Grades 1-5 in ELA, math, science, and social studies. A formal waiver to allow flexible grouping of Gen Ed., AL and HC students for social studies may be requested by HC Cohort elementary schools.
We believe that the ability to integrate our students for social studies would provide benefits to all of our students. Our staff believes deeply in the importance of teaching our students the 21st Century skills necessary to live and work in a diverse, democratic society. We believe that the best way to prepare our students for a diverse society is to teach these skills not in segregated classrooms, but in a diverse setting. We believe that Social Studies instruction is as much about the process of learning to learn together as it is about the content that we teach.

The feedback I have received from our parent community has been strongly supportive of this plan. Our school has had support from the Department of Advanced Learning and the Office of Curriculum and Instruction. Our Executive Director, Sarah Pritchett, and our School Board Director, Stephan Blanford, have also expressed their support. Because what happens at our school may also impact policy at other schools with HCC programs, it is important for our other School Board Directors to hear from other parents regarding their support for this change. I would encourage you to share your thoughts with our other School Board Directors and am providing their contact information for you here:

Scott Pinkham – District 1 –scott.pinkham@seattleschools.org

Rick Burke – District 2 – rick.burke@seattleschools.org

Jill Geary – District 3 – jill.geary@seattleschools.org

Sue Peters – District 4 - sue.peters@seattleschools.org

Stephan Blanford (Thurgood Marshall’s school board director – District 5 -stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Leslie Harris – District 6 -leslie.harris@seattleschools.org

Betty Patu – District 7 - betty.patu@seattleschools.org

Sincerely,

Katie May, PrincipalThurgood Marshall Elementary

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

This letter piques a number of questions, and I hope the Board asks them. More than that, I hope Ms May answers them.
  1. "We believe that the ability to integrate our students for social studies would provide benefits to all of our students."
    What benefits are you expecting? What negative consequences could result? How will you monitor the effects of this change? What are the benchmarks you need to reach to consider this change a net positive? What benchmarks would cause you to regard this change as a net negative? Or did you have no intention of measuring the consequences of this change or questioning the results of this change?
  2. Why is it necessary to amend the policy by eliminating the part that says: "The Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) is available to all students identified as Highly Capable in grades K-8."?
  3. Why is it necessary to amend the policy by eliminating the reference to "rigorous curriculum"?
  4. The biggest changes in this policy are not about the delivery method for Social Studies. Why are these other changes included in the Proposed Language?
  5. "We believe that Social Studies instruction is as much about the process of learning to learn together as it is about the content that we teach." Is this true of other disciplines (ELA, math, science, etc.) or just Social Studies?
  6. What exactly is "the process of learning to learn together"? Is learning together a difficult thing that children need to learn to do or are children naturally able to learn together? What other lessons in learning together does Thurgood Marshall deliver?
  7. Is the intent of this change to substitute lessons in how to interact with diverse populations for lessons in Social Studies?
  8. Why is Social Studies the discipline best suited for this substitution?
  9. Will the Social Studies curricula for the HC students continue to be an advanced curricula? If not, why not? Is it an advanced curricula now? If not, why not? If the HC students are currently being taught an advanced curricula in Social Studies, what is that advanced curricula?
  10. In fact, what are the advanced curricula being taught to HC students in math, ELA, and science? What academic Standards and expectations are in use? How and why were those Standards and expectations chosen and who chose them?

As I have recently written, the school district makes a lot of promises that changes in existing programs will have beneficial effects, but the district never provides any data to show the effects. There is no structure for assessing the consequences - good or ill - of the decisions and no benchmarks for determining whether the change was a net positive or negative.

Self-contained Spectrum was dismantled on the promise that the advanced curricula could  be delivered in a general education classroom through differentiated instruction, but no one ever followed up to determine if that were true. In fact, no one even followed up to confirm that any advanced curricula or differentiated instruction was ever delivered at all.

So there is room to question whether any of the promised benefits of dismantling the self-contained HCC classes will have positive or negative consequences and certainly reason to insist that someone monitor the outcomes to determine whether the decision made things better or worse.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am a parent at this school and I am thinking that this proposal masks a more basic problem, which is that the instructional practices for social studies are already kind of weak and even for HCC students the expectations seem to be pretty low. What data exists to show that blending classrooms will improve learning outcomes when the instructional practices are already problematic?

Parent

Anonymous said...

Wow. This is clearly not about blending classrooms. It's solely about destroying HCC. There's nothing here about ensuring HCC kids get the instruction they need. Notably, there's also nothing here about non-HCC kids getting the instruction they need. Instead this move is deliberately intended not to blend Social Studies classes at TM but to enable the end of HCC classes across the district at all levels.

If the board wants to authorize this, they need to make the following changes:

1. Note that this only applies at TM for the classes specified
2. Require TM staff and principals to provide a plan to ensure all kids' learning needs are met in the blended classes
3. Require TM staff and principles to show how they will measure or otherwise confirm that those learning needs have been met, and further specify that test scores don't count
4. Reject the foot-in-the-door elements of the proposed change so as to prevent this pilot program from being the wedge by which HCC is destroyed across the district.

This move is related to the attacks on Middle College, EEU, and other non-standard programs and curricula. The district is determined to force all kids to get exactly the same education, and to deny kids the ability to have their particular needs met. If this succeeds, children's needs will no longer be met in SPS, and the district will officially be abandoning its commitment to ensure all kids are learning and thriving.

Non-HCC Parent

Anonymous said...

Aside from all the other concerns about this proposal, aren't there HCC schools (Fairmount Park?) that already do flexible grouping for more than just SS? If so, it would be bizarre to write the SS waiver option into policy, while ignoring the fact that ELA, math and science are also delivered outside of policy but without waivers or a waiver process. The resulting policy would suggest HC ELA, math and science are always delivered via the self-contained model.

HF

Anonymous said...

So the principals May and Howard want to mete out social justice instead of fulfilling their duty to educate their students. The HC/HCC program has GOT to be about more than whose butt is in the seat next to the HC kid. I understand the value of the cohort, but outside of the north-end Cascadia (and what will happen to THEM after next year? Won't the demographics of their shiny new school be a problem now too?), we see that when it's just the cohort, not a truly advanced and rigorous curriculum, it is vulnerable to looking, even to those who RUN IT, like a racially divided farce.

cp

Anonymous said...

Why don't the leave the existing policy language as is, but add something along the lines of "Alternate delivery models may be approved by the board on a case-by-case basis and for specified periods of time. Modifications will be considered through a formal waiver process, which will include, at minimum, a description of the proposed model, a justification for the change, a plan for evaluating the success of the change, and a timeline for reporting results back to the Board for reevaluation of the waiver."

HF

Anonymous said...

HF,

I wouldn't say Fairmount Park does flexible grouping. Instead, the school's advanced learning classrooms include both Highly Capable and Spectrum students. There is no grouping of these students with students in general education classrooms. This doesn't assume to offend anyone because the classrooms all look alike.

Falcon Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

HF, your suggestions makes a lot more sense with transparency and accountability built in. I'm going to quote you when I write to the Board.

"We believe that Social Studies instruction is as much about the process of learning to learn together as it is about the content that we teach."

I'm with Charlie; what does this mean? If a principal is talking about "process of learning" that's pretty profound. I agree with CP that this sounds a lot like a social justice stance which is not a bad thing but it needs to be explained.

Anonymous said...

An English teacher at Garfield publicly calling Honors classes “apartheid”. The principal at Thurgood Marshall calling HCC segregation. Who only knows what they are saying and what decisions are being made behind closed doors. As a parent I would be scared to send my kids into these schools.

Anonymous said...

TM parents that aren't supportive of the change are unlikely to be given a voice. After the very public rant from Garfield's Ms. Taylor, parents could feel any dissent would label them as "obnoxious elitist unconscious racists."

Lynn said...

Have Ms. May and her staff read the Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements for Social Studies?

I don't see learning to learn together in there. It's a nice goal though. Perhaps the teachers want to volunteer to offer a multicultural club as a free after school activity for Thurgood Marshall students.

Anonymous said...

It should also be noted that Thurgood Marshall goes only so far in regards to inclusion and exclusion. There is no "access" program there for students with disabilities whose least restrictive environment is general education. Those students, whether TM is their n'hood school or an HCC pathway that they should be able to access, run into the "we don't serve your kind here" policy. Why doesn't that bother Principal May and the people who are encouraging this discourse about the value of integration?

parent

Anonymous said...

Because in both of these cases it is cheaper to take something away from a group you can call privileged than to actually spend the money to include SPED students, or make sure students in honors and gen ed BOTH get high quality education at the right level for them to be able to learn. And doing this, making everything equal if not equitable, still gives you impeccable social justice credentials.

Are there no Asian students at TM? I have been horrified at the degree to which Asian students have been whitewashed out of the Garfield discussion. A third of the students at Garfield are Asian. A third of the supposedly all white National Merit scholars are Asian, maybe more. Casting the issue as black and white makes it easier to cast your opponents as 1961 style civil rights detractors, but that is not the world we live in anymore. Far, far more of my students' classmates at Cascadia are first or second generation immigrants than at our neighborhood school, often from Asia.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

If there is segregation it is along SES and ELL lines and not race. And AL has done outreach into these communities and offers accommodations to widen these group's access. But alas we are all still unconscious about our racism.

We trusted the Admin when they said with the splits we would have a curriculum. We trusted the recommendations of the ALTF that there was going to be PD to teach all teachers on the importance and distinctions of HC education services. Evidently neither has happened.

Ms. Taylor and Ms. May should question their own unconscious racism as they are not serving anyone with their hate speech.

No curriculum, no justice.

-NCNJ

Anonymous said...

Ok, it's time for some people to check their privilege. There are a lot of white do-gooders claiming to speak for families like mine - and they don't.

I grew up in a family of farm workers. I worked in the fields and barely went to school until my parents got a service job when I was 8. My school was in a mixed race mixed income town in coastal California. All our classes were gen ed classes. We never had honors or advanced learning, not until high school.

I was tracked into gen ed classes in high school. One teacher also taught Honors English and saw I had some ability so she put me in the Honors class. I thrived. It prepared me for college. I was the first in my family to go and to graduate. Now I live comfortably in north Seattle. I made it.

I want my daughter to make it too. But she won't if you all take away her ability to go to a good college, which is what you're doing if you take away these Honors and advanced classes like this. She's one generation removed from the fields but you want to put her and kids like her right back by claiming its for the sake of equity.

The children of white kids can go to private school or supplement with outside classes. But that's just reinforcing the problem you all say you want to solve. Meanwhile you never once mention how these blended classes will help kids who are having trouble. You never once explain how this will help them get ahead.

Instead you want to use our kids as some sort of museum piece. Instead of slumming it in the ghetto you think your kids should slum it in our classes. I got news for you: that's not what we want. We want our kids to LEARN, dangit, not to be used so you all can feel better about yourselves.

So check your privilege. Your job is to help make sure kids get the instruction they need, not deny it to them so you all can feel better about yourselves. If you ever want to know why people like us are so frustrated with white liberals, this is why. Knock it off and give all kids the classes they need - and if those classes aren't as diverse as you want, then help us get our kids there, rather than just doing this by decree. You don't get it, you didn't talk to us, and you're not helping us. Just stop.

Hermano

Lori said...

"We believe that Social Studies instruction is as much about the process of learning to learn together as it is about the content that we teach."

The TM teachers' goals may be noble, but I don't know that they are developmentally appropriate for elementary students, particularly those with asynchronous development. It's like the actual reality that some of the HCC kids joined the cohort *precisely because* they weren't able to "learn together" with age peers is being tossed aside or ignored!

I've done a lot of reading about and have recent lived experience dealing with the social and emotional needs of gifted kids. I remember one study that suggested that social problems are greatest between the ages of 4 to 9 years, which is consistent with our own family's experience. Kids with wildly divergent or unusual interests simply don't relate to a lot of other children their own age, and they don't get to learn social skills or develop a healthy self-concept unless they can practice with receptive peers. As these kids mature, however, and develop better abstract thinking, they are better able to manage their asynchrony and develop relationships with a wider range of people. But trying to make them relate to each other before they're ready and, for some, able? It doesn't seem like a plan that's been developed with the quirks of asynchronous kids in mind.

Anonymous said...

Lori, the people proposing these changes don't believe those quirks exist. Really. Talk to them and they'll make that clear. They think it's just your privilege talking, that you're being overprotective, that you are just a "fragile" person.

In other words, they do not take your child's needs seriously and do not believe they have to do anything to help your child. That's disturbing. If they are willing to deny your kid the services they need, who else will they cut off?

Non-HCC Parent

Casey said...

As a parent at TM, I am fully in support of blending social studies classrooms in our school. This has not been an attempt to do anything to HCC (language arts and math will continue to be self contained) or push something through without people knowing. The school has arrived at this plan after our administration and teachers looked closely all year at how and where it would be best for our different groups of students to come together and learn.

The parents I speak to at TM feel lucky to be in a school that is diverse, with a principal and teachers who value growth mindset and work to provide each and every student with what they need. Planning has been happening and PLCs will be based on social studies next year. There is no doubt in my mind that we have a building full of staff ready and able and EXCITED to take this on. Ms. May and the TM staff do not have an agenda to change curriculum at any other school. We have a unique situation and this is the answer that works for our school.

I hope if a waiver or approval does come through, those of you who doubt from afar without ever being at our school, will come and visit. There is power, understanding, and empathy in bringing all students together to learn about everything from current events and Wash State history to the settlers at Jamestown. I have no doubt that text levels and writing opportunities can be offered to meet all students' needs (it's what our strong teaching staff does already daily) and students will return to their classrooms for self-contained reading/writing and math. Gaining the perspective of so many others from all over the city through social studies is a gift and in my mind, a necessity.





Anonymous said...

Casey, I wonder if you have talked to your principal lately. In the last month she was at Director Blanford's community meeting asking for a policy level change instead of just a school change. This call for advocacy also appears to be for a district wide change. If it is really just about your school, HF suggests language that retain hcc for the rest of the district.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I'm with Hermano. Give all kids the classes, curriculum and supportive teachers they need to learn! That GHS teacher who publicly announced her disgust for the youth working at an advanced academic level should be FIRED.

I hope Roosevelt and Ballard are ready for the flood of kids in 2017. Who in their right mind would send their HCC child to GHS knowing the teachers look at them with a hateful lens?

SPS dismay

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lynn said...

Reposting for anon @ 3:00 (you need to use a name of some kind):

I am a current HCC parent at TM and not only is there hostility from the administration towards HCC, but it is not a safe environment to voice any dissent to the proposed rule changes.
The "integration" discussions were part of equity committee work, so if you have concerns over the learning environment for HCC, you are cast as a person who just doesn't get it and needs to unpack your privilege.
And the discussions had nothing to do with the polished request that Ms. May wrote later. It was a lot of HCC bashing by parents of children in gen ed who have no idea how important it is for all students to be appropriately challenged. For example "The school talks about HCC as an aspirational program and I'm supposed to feel guilty that my kid's not in it!" Or, from the Vice Principal" HCC parents have to know coming in that they are not part of a program, they are part of a larger community- and if they don't like it they can go to Lincoln!" This comment was met with applause, although HCC parents are some of the most engaged, including the outgoing PTA President.
I hope that the district will not approve any changes driven by a unreasoned "stick it to the privileged" mentality.

Anonymous said...

Casey, nobody doubts this idea has some good intentions. The problem is that once again HCC kids are being treated as deviant, as something to be reeducated or corrected. You've notably said nothing about how TM will check to ensure all kids' academic needs are being met in this blended class. Neither have you explained why a pilot program at one school should be used as a basis to destroy HCC everywhere (which the policy change would do). There should be no hesitancy or defensiveness among people who support this change to explain how student learning will be protected and verified. You should be able to answer that question clearly and in collaboration with the HCC parents who are part of your community. We await your response - especially those of us whose kids aren't in HCC but who are watching with great concern at parents and admins telling a group of parents that their kids' needs are fake and don't need to be addressed. We worry which kids will be next to have their programs taken away.

Non-HCC Parent

Tara said...

In 1955, the Supreme Court found that: “[t]o separate [Black children] from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.” It has been more 60 years since Brown v. Board, but Seattle seems doomed to live in the past.
In 2016, there is now a full-on mountain of academic literature which finds that all children are harmed by segregation and that all children benefit from integrated learning environments. That research fully supports this planned curricular change. It has been studied and measured. But it would still be the right thing to do, even if we lacked the “data” to back up the benefits of something so basic as community.
The proposed change is meant to benefit everybody and it will, if we allow it to go into effect, by reducing some of the appearance that TM is segregated school. And for anyone who does not think TM is segregated, please just take a quick look at the yearbook. We might as well be looking back in time.
That segregation, more than anything else, is harming all of our children, their hearts and their minds, in a way unlikely to ever be undone. I support Principal May.
-Parent of HCC Student.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Parent of HCC student, a couple of things.

1) It was the late, great John Stanford who, after seeing the problems when HCC was sharing space with a gen ed population, ended that and said HCC should never be co-housed again. (I understand that it's not exactly a co-housing at TM but the point still remains - it never seems to work and the district never seems to learn this lesson.)

2) You make some broad statements and broadly assume that by having one subject be for the entire school, that solves segregation at your school. I would guess that won't be true and then the next shoe will drop.

3) I surely wish TM parents had been coming in numbers to School Board meetings but I haven't seen this. Do you know if parents have come to the Board about this issue?

4) Lastly, I'm going to assume you probably don't like charter schools because the number of articles about how charter schools are resegregating our nation's districts is growing. I hope parents pay attention to that area as well.

Anonymous said...

What about the exclusion of certain kinds of students from TM as other posters have pointed out? Students whose IEPs says "ACCESS" find that TM is a no fly zone. And TM is saying they have this big social justice thing going? Hello? Except for when it comes to disability, evidently.

parent

Tara said...

Melissa I agree completely. This change will not even approach solving the problem of segregation or its impact on students. And I should go to more Board meetings than I do. I know a number of TM parents are hoping to get more active after seeing the vitrolic pushback the school has received to this one small step in the right direction. I have a lot to learn about the history of this program and how it came to be structured in the way that it is. I appreciate comments from those who have been active on this issue long before now.

Scott said...

Lynn said: "It was a lot of HCC bashing by parents of children in gen ed who have no idea how important it is for all students to be appropriately challenged."

That's incorrect. Mostly HCC parents, as I recall, involved in those equity team meetings. Except for the kindergarten parents of course. Everyone wants their child appropriately challenged, not just you.

Melissa wrote: "You make some broad statements and broadly assume that by having one subject be for the entire school, that solves segregation at your school."

So what if it doesn't create total integration? Why can't we have one integrated class? Have you been to TM? Have you seen the problems created by this segregated environment? The kids see it, even if you don't.

You assume we can't have differentiated learning in a blended class, but assume (or don't care) that it can't happen for the other widely ranged abilities of kids in SPS not in HCC or self contained sped. If we are expected to meet the needs of roughly 80 percent of the student body (excluded self contained sped and hcc) in one class, why can't we do at the same time for the 5 percent in HCC?

The posters on this blog are assigning some ulterior motive to Ms. May that doesn't exist, out of some paranoia that we're coming for your kids next, to "destroy HCC" as the previous poster said. Give me a break. I'm proud to have a principal who is willing to take a stand on this.


Scott

Northender said...

Wasn't this the reason Spectrum was eliminated in elementary? To get rid of the labeling and inequity. In its place, we now have so called differentiation that barely happens in an overcrowded classroom. We have seen this process happen already, and there is no curriculum or oversight.

Lynn said...

Scott - I didn't say that - I reposted the comment of a TM parent.

Tara - Brown v. Board is irrelevant. We are separating students from others of similar age and dissimilar qualifications in a program in which the color of their skin is not taken into account.

Have you looked at the mountain of academic literature which finds that gifted students are best served in self-contained learning environments? As for your theory that everyone would benefit from this proposed change because TM would look less segregated - that is solving a problem that exists only in your mind. It's short-changing children academically in order to make adults more comfortable. If you must solve this problem for adults, do it by unwinding the district decision that caused it. HCC should have never been placed in that building.

Anonymous said...

Hermano is exactly right. I'm not white, and my HCC kid's education is going to suffer because of misplaced white guilt. Great. We're victimized both coming and going.

Is the ugly reality that we live with too uncomfortable for white people to see when HCC gets put in a building like TM? So uncomfortable they need to try this hard to disguise it? Does HCC really need to be physically segregated so that the uncomfortable truth of racism can stay hidden?

Why can't we give our kids great educations, and take a hard look at racism at the same time, and not make one suffer at the expense of the other?

- Hermano Tambien

Melissa Westbrook said...

Scott, I have not been to TM. But I was at Madrona when John Stanford said never again. So I can pretty much guess what it looked like.

So Hermano Tambien, you'd have to rephrase what you said for me. I can be dense at time. What are you plainly trying to say.

The change is happening at TM because of "misplaced white guilt?"

Who is "disguising" what?

HCC is not truly reflective of the district demographics but you are saying that's because of racisim?

I think that last sentence goes both ways for all kids. How DO we help all kids without pitting programs or needs against one another?

Anonymous said...

I would like Hermano's question answered: "Meanwhile you never once mention how these blended classes will help kids who are having trouble. You never once explain how this will help them get ahead. " This to me is the issue. I really want to see more children of color in HCC, because I know there are more kids of color in our district that belong there, but I also think that we keep trying to "fix" issues for kids of color without getting input from their parents. I know there have been challenges in getting parents of color to speak up/out on these issues, but we/the district have to figure out how to do better.

"We want our kids to LEARN, dangit, not to be used so you all can feel better about yourselves.

So check your privilege. Your job is to help make sure kids get the instruction they need, not deny it to them so you all can feel better about yourselves. If you ever want to know why people like us are so frustrated with white liberals, this is why. Knock it off and give all kids the classes they need - and if those classes aren't as diverse as you want, then help us get our kids there, rather than just doing this by decree. You don't get it, you didn't talk to us, and you're not helping us. Just stop. "

This is my fear- that the move to blend gen ed and HCC learning in the name of "integration" will do nothing to truly integrate kids and will just serve to dismantle the strengths of the HCC program. That white parents (and I am one) keep trying to guess at what parents of color want, and we expect their desires to somehow be homogeneous.

I don't know what the process was to get to this request from TM. I respect Ms. May, and assume this is coming from a good place, but that doesn't mean it is the right path for the students.

SPS parent

Anonymous said...

Our society is racist in many ways, but HCC isn't more racist than anything else. Shortchanging HCC kids of the education they need to make people less uncomfortable with having it staring them in the face only hurts the kids and whitewashes (sorry) the problem.

- Hermano Tambien

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Hermano Tambien.

Charlie Mas said...

Dr. Goodloe-Johnson spent good money to have a big-time national expert on gifted education from the University of Virginia come and do an evaluation of APP. One of the specific questions that the District asked the expert was: what recommendations do you have about co-housing APP with a neighborhood school. The expert responded that the program should not be co-housed with a neighborhood school at all, but if the District were determined to co-house it with a neighborhood school, to match it with a school with similar demographics and achievement scores. The District then went exactly contrary to that advice and placed south-end APP in Thurgood Marshall, a school that was radically different from APP racially, economically, and in achievement. The result, which we now see, is this terrible visual of nearly all White and Asian students from affluent families in APP and nearly all Black students from low-income families in general education. It has the appearance of segregation by race or class, but that appearance is purely a function of the program placement, not the program, and it is an appearance that was engineered by Dr. Goodloe-Johnson when she decided to place APP in Thurgood Marshall against the specific advise of the paid experts.

This is a repeat of the situation that APP experienced at Madrona before the program was moved into a stand-alone building at Lowell by John Stanford.

Institutional memory has value. It is valuable to know what was tried before and how it failed.

It is understandable for people to see the situation at Thurgood Marshall and conclude that it is the result of racial segregation. That's what the visual evidence suggests. But that's not the case. I'm not saying that it isn't the result of racism in the larger society, and I'm not saying that we couldn't do more to foster and identify highly capable students among historically under-represented groups. I'm just saying that there is no specific effort to keep African-American students out of HCC. The students are separated by program, not by race.

I'll say it again. This situation was caused by former District officials who went contrary to the District's own "lessons learned" and contrary to expert advice they paid for to unwisely place APP (now HCC) at Thurgood Marshall.

Charlie Mas said...

Scott wrote: "You assume we can't have differentiated learning in a blended class"

Yes, Scott. That's what we assume. We assume it for good reasons:
1) The bulk of classes that are supposed to offer differentiated instruction do not.
2) Differentiated instruction is labor intensive to prepare.
3) Differentiated instruction is hard to deliver.
4) Differentiated instruction is fragile. It depends on a deep commitment by an individual teacher. Any change in the teacher's commitment or change in the teaching personnel and the spell is broken.

Scott asked: "why can't we do at the same time for the 5 percent in HCC?"
1) Because no one else has been able to do it.
2) Because we have yet to see any expression of an interest in doing it.
3) Because no one will be checking to confirm that you'll be doing it.

Scott wrote: "The posters on this blog are assigning some ulterior motive to Ms. May that doesn't exist"
No. the commenters here are ascribing to her the motives that she has claimed: to address the visual appearance of segregation. That's a political motive, not a pedagogical one. They are also noting the absence of any mention on her part of maintaining high academic expectations for HC students.

Scott may think that people are paranoid (Are you a psychotherapist who can make that diagnosis based on the presented symptoms or is this simply name-calling?) for thinking that this is part of an effort to "destroy HCC", but this is exactly what it would look like if someone were trying to destroy HCC. And let's note that Ms May never said anything reassuring about preserving HCC, did she? In fact, her re-write of the Board policy went far beyond creating an opportunity for a blended Social Studies class. What was her purpose in that? Couldn't you also be proud of a principal who took a stand to maintain high academic expectations when blending the class? Why didn't Ms May do that? Scott has promised to differentiate instruction, Ms May did not.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie's right on what the consultant that Goodloe-Johnson said. To the word. And yet, nobody listened. I believe G-J went against that consultant's recommendations on the idea that somehow HCC would elevate the teaching at Thurgood Marshall and the rising tide would lift all boats.

Instead, it has played out as expected and now the principal wants to try something else. The problem is that the something else is a major shift in a district program, not just her school. If you read what she wrote, it reads like the change would be applicable district-wide.

And, as Charlie says, it's unlikely to change a lot. It feels more like social justice programming than social studies programming. And that would be okay but everyone has to be honest about what they are doing, why and why they believe outcomes will change.

Funny thing - the one time the district DID experiment with teaching at a higher level to all kids in elementary school? The Maple Elementary experiment? It worked but the district would not supply the school with needed funding to continue on and they decided they needed the money elsewhere in the school (I think either for a counselor or family support worker.)

z said...

Tara said: I know a number of TM parents are hoping to get more active after seeing the vitrolic pushback the school has received to this one small step in the right direction.

Anyone else catch this? "One small step in the right direction"

Could you explain the end-goal then?

The proposed change would very clearly be the end of HCC social studies at ThM. Continued steps in this direction would mean one thing: the end of HCC at ThM, and if taken further, the end of HCC in Seattle.

Where is your line Tara? Because there are a LOT of people in Seattle that want to eliminate HCC. Even parents in the program, without a long or wide or deep view of it and this city may not understand the depth of hatred in some circles for you and your kids, though the teacher's comments on FB give a tiny hint. I don't know about you, but for one of my kids this program has been a life saver.

Lynn said...

I can't understand why Tara would not just return her child to their attendance area school. They are guaranteed access to differentiated instruction in inclusive classes for the full day there.

Charlie Mas said...

Let's remember a few things.

There are some parents and guardians of advanced learners who prefer that their children be educated in an inclusive classroom. They acknowledge that the academics will be sub-optimal, but they put a higher priority on the diversity. No one is trying to take that choice away from them.

There are some parents and guardians of advanced learners who prefer that their children be educated in a cohort of other advanced learners. They acknowledge that the diversity will be sub-optimal, but they put a higher priority on the academics. Their choice is threatened.

You want an inclusive classroom for your kid? Great! Go for it. Everyone wishes you well and wants to do what they can to make that a success. While there are some who disagree with your choice they would not dream of taking that choice from you. So why are you trying to take the preferred choice away from those who want a cohort? Yes, the cohort model advocates understand that the inclusive classroom offers the benefits of greater diversity, yet they do not value that over the improved academics available in the cohort model. Please remember that all of these families have experienced the inclusive classroom - and chose to leave it. It did not work for their child. It's wonderful that it worked for your child, but that doesn't mean that it will work for all children. Some children, in fact the bulk of highly capable children, do better in the cohort model.

The presence of the cohort model for highly capable students or advanced learners does not take anything away from the general education classroom. Not a thing. The cohort model does not in any way prevent the general education class from being equally rigorous or challenging. The general education class can set its academic expectations as high as it would like - without regard to the presence of a cohort model classroom in the same school or district.

The animosity shown to students ready to succeed with a more rigorous curriculum and to their families, who only want an appropriate academic opportunity for their children, is irrational and vile.

Who is expressing vitriol? Not the advocates of the cohort model. They aren't saying anything about the people who are enraged by their choice. All of the vitriol is on the side of those who not only choose the inclusive classroom for themselves, but also want to make everyone else have only that choice by eliminating the other option. After all, who is calling whom racist, paranoid, elitist, precious, fragile, apartheid, and obnoxious? Despite the charge of vitriol made against those who support the cohort, all that I have seen is on the side of those supporting inclusion.

z said...

Thank you Charlie, for summing up the entire situation perfectly.

Please everyone, can we all just read this post and quietly digest it for a few minutes?

Anonymous said...

Agree 110% with Charlie and z.

- Hermano Tambien

Ann said...

Our child is a smart, high achieving kid in Gen Ed at Thurgood Marshall, which is our neighborhood school. We are dismayed by how it feels like two schools under one roof. Anything that can be done to integrate the HCC and General Education programs (and Special Ed, for that matter) should be done, to diffuse the us/them and segregated dynamic that is completely obvious to anyone who sets foot into the building (or opens the yearbook, as Tara points out).

Otherwise, those of us who are not interested in going to a school with segregated classes, as the HCC program has brought to Thurgood Marshall, will sadly have to leave OUR neighborhood school for more integrated school.

In fact, our family really asks, why stop with social studies? Why not integrate everything that possibly can be?

Concerned SPS parent said...

I am astounded by the language used in response to an effort to teach ALL of our kids a particular subject matter, ironically social studies. In a quick google search, I pulled this definition “The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world” So, how do we effectively teach such content in isolation (clearly homogenous groups as many of you advocate) when theory will contradict practice? Attempting to educate our children in context around others who have a different historical and lived experience and would thereby provide varied perspectives and consequently deeper learning is not an attempt to “destroy”, “dismantle” or “stick it to the privileged”. As is repeatedly expressed by the children at 5th grade promotion, they yearn to learn together with their peers and see the value of connecting with others both like AND unlike them regardless of program affiliation. Nevertheless, it is the grown-ups who can’t seem to recognize when we could possibly take some cues from our kids and provide them with such fertile ground for learning. Of course, OF COURSE, needs of each group should be met via different outlets, however, there are occasions when bringing them together teaches them much more than we can possibly imagine!
I encourage us all to think for a minute beyond rabidly protecting what we already have and perceive as being threatened…think about us ALL moving forward. Think about what your argument might sound like if you experienced the other side of the coin.

Anonymous said...

Back in the day Charlie and the rest y'all, diversity was important to some white parents. So they chose to send their kids to the desegregated schools. For other parents it was more important to meet their kids curricular needs by fleeing to the suburbs to maintain their all white cohort and avoid the messiness of racial integration problems and the poverty that went hand in hand with it. Education of their kids was more important. Did a whole lot of good for America, that priority. Made us what we are today. A perpetuation of intergenerational economic underclasses and festering racial issues. Those white kids? Sure, they got their education. But they and their kids and their kids' kids get to live with the results of their priority.

Look up people and get on the right side of history's lesson.

Southie

Charlie Mas said...

Here is the entire problem in a nutshell:

"Otherwise, those of us who are not interested in going to a school with segregated classes, as the HCC program has brought to Thurgood Marshall, will sadly have to leave OUR neighborhood school for more integrated school."

Ann, HCC didn't choose to come to Thurgood Marshall. HCC wanted to remain as a stand-alone program. Your beef is with the school district, not the HCC students, families, or community. Your animosity is misdirected.

It's pretty clear that you would be okay with HCC if it were just somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Concerned SPS Parent and Southie- did you read Hermano and Hermano Tambien's comments? Because these are comments from actual parents of color stating what they want for their children, and asking that us white liberals stop trying to make ourselves feel better by changing the optics, but not necessarily outcomes. Did you "hear" them? Because it sure doesn't sound like it.

The BIGGEST issue the district and white parents in the district have is the lip service paid to wanting to hear from parents of color, but then when they actually speak out, essentially saying "we know better what is good for your kids."

The more I read the comments, the more I am pushed to feeling like this "integration" is patronizing kids They aren't there to be a science experiment to make parents feel better. If this change happens, the district better gather data on how this improves outcomes for all the kids involved.

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

Just stumbled onto this article in the latest Atlantic.

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2016/07/the-war-on-stupid-people/485618/#article-comments

It's interesting to see the social weight posters placed on students based on academic designation. It's used to score points depending on which spectrum people favor. There's everything to equating HCC to SPED and the need for IEP, to racists/elitists, to the fragile tag. Then the slings toward the non HCC- the trouble makers, the thieves, the elite jocks, the poor, the non English speakers, the oppressed, the vulnerable, the neglected, the poor readers, etc.

I get the fear of the unknown and latching on to stuff to make a point like repeating the posting of that one FB teacher. it's just one teacher. I bet you'll find the yin to her yang out there teaching too. They are the exceptions.

I read frequently here that HCC offers nothing better than the cohort. Nothing in terms of great teaching and curriculum. Is that really true? From personal experiences and reading this and the HCC blogs, the results are more mixed. I remembered one summer reading about an award winning science teacher being maligned by APP parents on one of the blogs. It took a few APP parents to come to his defense and explain the effort this hard working teacher put in to put on the school science fair on his own time and remind many, he teaches all students.

The vast majority of general ed students are in school to learn. For example, some are dyslexic and the dyslexia affects timed verbal standardized test results, however dyslexia doesn't hinder their intellect or the ability to think critically and participate in class discussion and activities. They might need some accommodation in class such as audio books if books can't be read aloud and instead of vocab lists, will need words in written context or visual cues (why some teachers may ask for vocab words to be expressed in drawing instead of a written definition). Teachers may not explain these teaching methods to parents and thus may appear to be soft on the academics. That isn't true at all because nothing stops a student who aren't dyslexic from doing more. 2E parents understand this need for accommodation. Same for many other students who maybe ELL, with ADD or autism. One of the sadder things I've seen are the students who are extraordinary bright and inquisitive, but undiagnosed and untreated of their learning disabilities and thus are left academically behind because they are tracked into remedial classes, particularly devastating when this can be catchd and treated early in K-3. It sets up low expectations, conflicts, and if you want to talk about boredom and misbehaviors, just start here- a place where some HCC parents can empathize.

It's a disservice to the general ed students to assume these students aren't capable of great academics. If some HCC parents find it hard to find the challenging academics in SPS, there are just many more who are similarly frustrated in general ed. Intelligence is fluid and there are many different types. The best tests to measure IQ need constant tweaking and recalibration, and they aren't what SPS uses to measure who enters HC. One shortfall about HC entry is not merely the testing, but it truly requires parent advocates who have the time to research, to prepare their children from birth, to have the resources to navigate when they suspect their children have learning disability and afford the fixes they'll require. It's a huge advantage. Learning about the Wecshler test or CogAT requires some knowledge of what they are and the time to research the use and misuse of these tests. It wasn't taught in schools or university or at my job. It wasn't even mentioned by my child's teachers. It was through networking with other parents in the know which clued me in about them and what's in these tests.

I think that's why this system while appearing meritocratic isn't really. Hence the emotions.

My 2cents




Charlie Mas said...

Southie, segregated schools are not caused by HCC but by a neighborhood school assignment plan and segregated neighborhoods. HCC didn't cause segregated neighborhoods in Seattle. Don't try to put the weight of Seattle's segregation on HCC at Thurgood Marshall. That's not where it belongs.

Please remember that every family with a child in HCC at Thurgood Marshall lives in the south end. These are not people who are running away from diverse neighborhoods. These are not people who pulled their kids from public school for lily white private schools. These are not people who moved out of the city for white bread and mayonnaise suburbs.

These are people who are sending their kids to Thurgood Marshall in the CD. They look forward to enrolling their children at Washington Middle School in the CD and Garfield High School in the CD. At Washington HCC is just three classes a day. There are no classes at Garfield which are reserved for HCC. Don't bring your baseless accusations of White Flight to HCC at Thurgood Marshall. It lacks credibility.

Here's an idea: instead of dismantling HCC for the children who need it because they don't match your demographic ideal, how about you work to fix the demographic by working with historically under-represented communities so their children qualify for HCC? How about you build something up instead of tearing something down?

Anonymous said...

Sorry My 2cents, but you are misinformed, and I would appreciate it if you didn't perpetuate stereotypes. No one is saying that gen ed students aren't capable of great academics. And I would venture to say most HCC parents recognize that the way HCC students are identified at SPS needs work (in fact, it is my understanding that the TM PTA has taken on this issue and it working to get the district to do a better job of identifying ALL potential HCC students).

Not all HCC parents "prepare their children from birth." That is a particularly unfair stereotype, especially in the South end. Many parents do not want their kid to go to a school not in their neighborhood, as they WANT to go to their diverse neighborhood school, but discover their kid's needs cannot be met there. Many people I know make painful decisions around this, and acting like everyone is chomping at the bit to get into HCC devalues these experiences. Another one I hear a lot is that "people just pay a psychologist to get their kid in." I have actually heard (anecdotally, as their is no data on this that I could find) just the opposite- that even with "high IQ" scores from external testing, kids have not made it into the program based on other factors that are considered.

I completely agree that highly educated/networked parents have an advantage in jumping through the hoops SPS has in place for even getting tested for HCC. Let's all work together to change that- encourage working with community groups to not only educate people on the process, but gather information around the reasons why parents may not be interested in having their children participate in HCC. Actually ASK PARENTS of underrepresented groups what would be helpful for them and what kind of programs they envision for their children.

SPS Parent

Charlie Mas said...

@My 2cents, you're making the same mistakes that everyone arguing for inclusion is making.

"It's a disservice to the general ed students to assume these students aren't capable of great academics."

I agree. But if you look, you'll notice that no one in the HCC community is making that assumption. No one in the HCC community is saying that general education students can't do the HCC curriculum. That's coming from the schools and the district, not from the HCC community.

The HCC community is saying something VERY DIFFERENT and I really wish that you would take the time and attention to hear it because it's pretty obvious that you haven't heard it yet.

The HCC community is saying that the presence or absence of HCC students or programs in a school is not preventing that school from presenting rigorous curriculum to the students in any class. It is not the HCC community that is asking anyone to "dumb down" the curriculum for any student. The HCC community is saying that they want rigorous curricula that teaches their children at the frontier of their children's knowledge and skills. That should probably sound pretty familiar because, if I'm not mistaken, that's pretty much what everyone wants for every child.

When the HC students are in an inclusive classroom, however, the curriculum is NOT directed at the frontier of their knowledge and skills. We know this because every single HCC student was once in a general education classroom and it didn't work for them. That's why they had to leave it. That's why they undertook a long bus commute. That's why their families travel distances from home to participate in school activities. That's why they couldn't go to school in their neighborhood with their neighborhood friends. It is not an easy or a fun choice.

I don't know how many times I have to write this to get people to read it and understand it. The HCC community did not choose Thurgood Marshall. The HCC community did not determine the eligibility criteria for HCC. The HCC community did not make Seattle a segregated city. The HCC community did not cause multi-generational urban poverty. The HCC community did not choose its demographics. The HCC community did not "dumb down" the academics in general education classes. The presence or absence of an HC student or HCC classroom in your school or district has no effect on the rigor in your child's general education classroom.

All of you folks directing your animosity towards the HCC community need to take a moment and realize what you're really mad about and who really caused that, because I seriously doubt that the cause of your gripe is the HCC community.

My 2cents' laundry list of insults, "the trouble makers, the thieves, the elite jocks, the poor, the non English speakers, the oppressed, the vulnerable, the neglected, the poor readers, etc" was never uttered by anyone in the HCC community. These "slings" come from My 2cents' active imagination. It is an invented straw man. That person does not exist in reality and, even if there were such a person, they certainly would not be representative of the HCC community. So how about instead of projecting villainy on an entire community that does not deserve your contempt, you choose to be reality-based and notice that your fight is not with the HCC community.

Concerned SPS parent said...

Charlie, wow..."how about you work to fix the demographic by working with historically under-represented communities so their children qualify for HCC"?!?! Sounds like you are also "tearing something down." As Anonymous said, "It's a disservice to the general ed students to assume these students aren't capable of great academics." Let's not pretend that ALL children currently in HCC qualified from the first round of tests. Please remember that some children in HCC have had the privilege of retesting and all the privileges that come with that such as the social capital of their families to know and navigate the system and the financial capital to afford to pay for coaching/tutoring as well as the retest. It would be nice for ALL students to have access to such resources.

Anonymous said...

Concerned SPS Parent-

Do you have the data on how many kids get into HCC from outside testing? I would actually love to see this, as this particular meme has been going around for years, but I do not know one kid who qualified for HCC that did so through outside testing (not saying there aren't any, just don't know any).

SPS Parent

Charlie Mas said...

Concerned SPS parent had a very interesting comment that I would like to explore.

"I am astounded by the language used in response to an effort to teach ALL of our kids a particular subject matter, ironically social studies."

I wasn't sure what was meant by this exactly because no matter whether you support inclusion or the cohort model for HCC, everyone wants ALL kids to be taught Social Studies. There is no argument about that.

Then we have the statement about the purpose of social studies taken from Google, as if Google were some sort of sacred reference or in any way relevant. You know what would be relevant? The Washington State Essential Academic Learning Requirements for Social Studies.

Funny thing, there's a lot in there that I'm pretty sure Concerned SPS parent would really like, a quote from RCW 28A.150.210 about the purpose of the entire educational system:
provide students with the opportunity to become responsible and respectful global citizens, to contribute to their economic well-being and that of their families and communities, to explore and understand different perspectives, and to enjoy productive and satisfying lives.

So why Google? Because it was quick and easy even it it is irrelevant? The Washington State Law makes a stronger case.

Then Concerned SPS parent stated a pretty profound idea:

"So, how do we effectively teach such content in isolation (clearly homogenous groups as many of you advocate) when theory will contradict practice?"

If the study of Social Studies is about exploring and understanding different perspectives, then shouldn't it be done among other students who represent different perspectives? That's not just an elegant idea, it makes sense. Of course it presumes that the two groups are, as Concerned SPS parent presumed "clearly homogenous". Of course, if that's true for the HC cohort and it is true for the general education students at Thurgood Marshall then how many other schools have EXACTLY the same problem - without an HC cohort in the building?

"Attempting to educate our children in context around others who have a different historical and lived experience and would thereby provide varied perspectives and consequently deeper learning is not an attempt to 'destroy', 'dismantle' or 'stick it to the privileged'."

This is another interesting idea. It presumes that the children are learning a lot from each other's perspective on the subject matter. Again, the Washington State EALRs really drive this home:
"In first grade, students develop their understanding of basic concepts and ideas from civics, economics, geography, and history. The context for social studies learning in first grade is the family and the ways they choose to live and work together. To develop students’ understanding of the basic social studies concepts, students are asked to think about families nearby and those far away."

This sort of thing continues for second grade:
"In second grade, students apply their emerging understanding of civics, economics, geography, and history to their communities and others around the world. Students learn about how their community works as well as the variety of ways that communities organize themselves. To develop conceptual understanding, students examine the geographic and economic aspects of life in their own neighborhoods and compare them to those of people long ago."

continued...

Charlie Mas said...

... continued

And there's more. The EALRs make a very strong case for having as diverse a Social Studies classroom as possible.

Concerned SPS parent goes on to write: "Of course, OF COURSE, needs of each group should be met via different outlets, however, there are occasions when bringing them together teaches them much more than we can possibly imagine!"

And there's the sour note in this harmony. While Concerned SPS parent is saying of course of course the academic needs of the HCC kids needs to be met, the folks at Thurgood Marshall are NOT saying that. They are offering zero assurances of that. It's not so "of course of course" to people who been lied to about exactly this thing for decades.

Yes, Concerned SPS parent, by all means, think about what your argument might sound like if you experienced the other side of the coin. Think about what you would think if you have been told countless times that your child's needs would be met in a general education classroom and it NEVER happened. Every single promise of differentiated instruction broken. Every. Single. One. for decades. Think about what your argument might sound like if you experienced that side of the coin. Wouldn't you want to see some mention of this? Wouldn't you want some assurances of this? And, in the absence of any such mentions or assurances, wouldn't you be a little bit gunshy?

If you really want us ALL to move forward, then the HCC community is going to need some assurances - assurances that have not yet been offered. And, I notice, you didn't offer any. Instead you waved those concerns away with a dismissive "of course of course" and laughed at people's scars. You chided them for foolish fears of "an attempt to 'destroy', 'dismantle' or 'stick it to the privileged'." when they have seen Spectrum destroyed and dismantled in exactly this fashion and a number of the people promoting this idea are saying "stick it to the privileged”. You see value in hearing the voices and the stories of people with different experiences? Then listen to the HCC community. They have a different experience.

I'm not saying that you're wrong about the value of a diverse student group for a Social Studies class. I'm saying that you're right about that. But you're also right about the need to honor other's experiences and voices - and not dismiss them with a wave as you did. You're the one who is preaching the theory and ignoring the practice.

Charlie Mas said...

"Let's not pretend that ALL children currently in HCC qualified from the first round of tests."

Ummm... I didn't. Where did that come from? Not from me.

Could you not accuse me of saying things that I never said? You know, as a courtesy?

And just what, exactly, are you accusing me of tearing down? That wasn't clear from your comment.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Attempting to educate our children in context around others who have a different historical and lived experience and would thereby provide varied perspectives and consequently deeper learning is not an attempt to “destroy”, “dismantle” or “stick it to the privileged”."

You make a broad assumption that everyone in HCC is from the same background. Are you saying that only race provides diversity?

"As is repeatedly expressed by the children at 5th grade promotion, they yearn to learn together with their peers and see the value of connecting with others both like AND unlike them regardless of program affiliation."

Does TM not split grade level classes for PE and music? That's what my Spectrum school did and every kid in their grade level knew who every other kid was in that grade level.

Good thoughts, My2cents.

"Actually ASK PARENTS of underrepresented groups what would be helpful for them and what kind of programs they envision for their children."

This is THE key thing that the district and schools should be asking. Over and over. I'll bet the answers would surprise some people. (It also would allow the district to correct any misunderstandings about programs.)

"Please remember that some children in HCC have had the privilege of retesting and all the privileges that come with that such as the social capital of their families to know and navigate the system and the financial capital to afford to pay for coaching/tutoring as well as the retest."

One, I have never met a parent who paid for "coaching" for the HCC test. Never.

Two, and again, any F/RL child whose parents want a retest get one - for free and thru with a private test. Nothing irritates me more than people saying retesting is only for those with money.

Scott said...

Charlie, no one is "making mistakes" here. We have differences of opinion about what is equitable and right for a public school system. Accusing people of "mistakes" for disagreeing with you is arrogant.

If there's any mistake it is believing that the IQ test of a six year old is somehow likely to accurately predict potential and intelligence such that we should reassign resources to suit them indefinitely. It isn't.

HCC can maintain an inequtiable cohort model for as long as the political process allows. The numbers don't favor this indefinitely.

Scott

Anonymous said...

Just want to remind everyone that the HCC:gened population at TM is 3:1. If anything, I would imagine the bar will be high due to the vast majority of kids in the classroom being HCC. Sometimes the tenor of the argument against any mixing of the populations sounds like HCC is going to be thrown into a social studies classroom that will be so detrimental to their learning needs they will be forever behind. It will not be.

We have a friend, now in their 20s, who was at Lowell APP from 1st grade. They look back on their experience and say it was pretty weird that they were so special they needed their own school. Actual quote. Has anyone asked the kids at TM what they think?

PW

Melissa Westbrook said...

Scott, what resources do you believe are being reassigned? Because HCC does not have different curriculum or resource materials. The transportation is paid for by the state (and, in fact, actually saves money for the district.)

We are trying to avoid making a public education model a political issue. Why do you think this is political?

Hermano Tambien said...

Respect kids of color. Try to understand their actual lives. Don't patronize them by sticking them in a white classroom as an anthropological field study and call it education for white kids. Respect them enough to apply the same high standards of education to them as everyone else and help them overcome barriers so they can meet those standards on their own merits like everyone else. Don't do it for them, help them do it for themselves.

Kids will naturally get to know each other on the playground, sports teams, clubs, lunchroom, non-academic classes, etc. That's great. Encourage that. But it's an insult and harmful to force them into the same classroom together in pretend instead of real desegregation. Believe me, even little brown-skinned kids are smart enough to tell the difference.

- Hermano Tambien

Devin Victoria Bruckner said...

As the parent of a child in HCC at Thurgood Marshall, I am excited about blended social studies. I also realize there are concerns and valuable questions. I imagine families will continue to have different perspectives, even with lots of dialogue! A few thoughts:

This change won’t eliminate the cohort or apply broadly, but allows elementary schools to apply for a waiver for social studies alone. It is written narrowly so TM can make the change (which I feel was thoughtfully developed by leadership with input from parents), while keeping the overall model as is. (The proposed change is: “Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) service model is self-contained in Grades 1-5 in ELA, math, science, and social studies. A formal waiver to allow flexible grouping of Gen Ed., AL and HC students for social studies may be requested by HC Cohort elementary schools.”)

The self-contained model will still apply in most subjects, but allows blended social studies at TM. The teachers at TM are excellent and I trust their ability differentiate well. I realize differentiation doesn’t always happen, but I trust these teachers and school. They are excited about this plan and working hard so it works well for all students.

I think blended social studies at TM will enrich the learning experience of all kids, and will help address (in a small way) some of the downsides of having multiple programs with different demographics. I believe my child (and all kids) will benefit more from the blended experience than without (in part from the added focus due to this discussion!). I realize not all parents feel the same. I personally don’t think this will lessen the value of HCC for kids in HCC, instead I think its enhances the value (and enhances education for Gen Ed children) by improving the overall learning experience by tailoring it to the community they are in. I trust that if it doesn’t work well, the TM staff can make changes or go back to the old model. I don’t believe this is a step towards removing the cohort model generally, but is a specific change for TM.

I agree a more important issue is disproportionality in HCC, which I is think is critical to address (I am on a committee working to improve equity & reduce disproportionality in HCC). But the situation is complex and changes will take time to bear fruit, even with positive steps the Advanced Learning office is taking. In the meantime, blended social studies is a small way to improve the learning environment and culture at TM. (To be clear, blended social studies isn’t intended to address disproportionality in HCC. It is designed to address issues related to housing programs with different demographics at TM.)


(Disproportionality in HCC in SPS is high, much larger than nationwide. In 2015 black students were 16.4% of SPS, but only 2.4% of HCC/Spectrum eligible students (and 1.6% of HCC eligible in 2014-15). Latino students were 12.4% of SPS but only 4.6% of HCC/Spectrum eligible students (3.3% of HCC eligible in 14-15). Nationally the gap is much smaller. 2009 Dept of Ed data showed black students were 16.7% of U.S. students and 9.8% of students in gifted programs. Latino students were 22.3% of total students and 15.4% in gifted programs. These gaps are smaller than in SPS and show we can make progress-but that is another discussion! Interestingly the % of kids in AL in SPS is fairly high. AL office data shows 8.9% of 1-12 graders were eligible for HCC in 2016 and an additional 13.3% of 1-8 graders were eligible for AL/Spectrum. 20% total in many grades!)

I realize there is history to why HCC is at TM. Regardless, HCC is there now. TM is working to make it the best school possible, given this reality. Blending a subject, while small, can help kids build friendships, create a rich learning environment, and be a small step towards a more unified school atmosphere, while ensuring kids learn appropriately due to differentiation by talented staff. This doesn’t address bigger problems, but is a small step TM wants to make given its context. I hope we can make this change for the TM community!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would have to say I disagree that the waiver is narrowly written. It is not written as though it was for one school but is a change in policy.

"(To be clear, blended social studies isn’t intended to address disproportionality in HCC. It is designed to address issues related to housing programs with different demographics at TM.)"

I'm not sure there's a difference in there.

There is not necessarily a "regardless" to HCC at TM. APP was taken out of Madrona when that co-joining failed. And the district has shown it believes both Sped and APP are moveable based on many things other than actually serving kids.

Devin, can you tell us if TM splits kids at grade level for PE and Music? That would be one way to start those ties.

Anonymous said...

They don't mix HCC and gen ed for music, art, or PE at Thurgood Marshall. I've heard that the administration finds it too difficult.

--TM Parent

sps parent said...

Yeah TM P is right. Would make perfectly reasonable sense but nope. They share recesses though.

sps parent said...

Devin,

You are right the issue is very complex so you can't look at national averages and say why we have such a large gap verses those numbers. Can you tell me the percent of FRL and ELL students in those programs? Really shouldn't that be the area for outreach? Would we really feel it was a victory if Obama's kids went to GHS HC? And I wonder of those non-counted asian children how many are of lower economic status here in SPS?

IMHO race is overrated when it comes to defining disparity as it really is SES and ELL which are the two things widening SPS' achievement gap.

And MC stop with your inane drabble. You are not fooling anyone Choose a moniker so we can skip your post!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wait a minute: they can't mix classes for PE but they can for social studies? I think that's something the Board might need to know.

Anonymous said...

Do kids in self contained advanced learning programs get more than those who share schools with them who aren't in those programs? Melissa, Lynn, Sleeper are convinced that they don't. In the past Charlie felt also felt they didn't. As a parent who had a Gen Ed child in a school with such a program I would suggest asking the parents of the kids who aren't in the program WHY they feel this way. You may not be aware of what "more" consists of these days in Seattle Public Schools. More might be what you take for granted as just OK or even LESS than that. It might seem like nothing special. For my kid, getting less meant that the other group of children had a stable, predictable group of peers year to year and usually knew ahead of time which teacher they would have. They were able to form friendships with these children because they spent the majority of their time with them. My child was part of a group of "leftovers" who were shifted around in multi-age groups of kids who had nothing in common other than the fact that they were not in the self contained program. They never knew from year to year who their teacher would be, who their classmates would be or whether they would be in a split class or not. Getting less meant that their teacher didn't do ANY writing with them and the principal didn't notice until I brought this to her attention around Christmas time because even though this was a brand new teacher with a very difficult split class, the principal was not able to visit her classroom to see what she was doing or how she was handling the difficult task she was assigned. Nor was the principal able to direct much energy to the problem even after I brought it to her attention. It meant standing outside the principal's office for 3 days and stalking her in order to get a chance to talk to her. The principal had "too many other fires to put out". I guess getting more means that you are in the group that has your fires put out. Getting more can probably also mean that it is assumed that your child is bright and capable. Someone on this thread complained that the integrated Honors classes at Garfield will be a waste of time because there will be disruptive kids in the classes. Well guess what? Every Gen Ed class in Seattle has a few disruptive kids. Every one. I guess getting more could also mean that when your kid is disruptive it's assumed that your child is bored, not that he or she is a bad kid from a bad home with bad parents. I am not saying that you all assume this, but there have been studies done that show that just telling a teacher that he or she has a class that is gifted leads to better academic outcomes. I have a Gen Ed kid who was very bored this year with the busy work in one of her Gen Ed classes. It never occurred to her teacher that she might be brighter than she seemed but bored with the work. I am not blaming the teacher or the school. I am just saying that many kids are not challenged and not working to their full potential. Many kids are bored at school. Most kids don't even have books these days. More is not much, but it still COULD be more. I would not ever again consider putting a child of mine in a school with a self contained advanced learner's program that she was not a part of based on our experience.

GenEd Mom

Anonymous said...

Some advocates of "blended" classes blame HCC for what they see as segregation at their schools. What would Thurgood Marshall look like without HCC? According to SPS enrollment data, only 117 of 528 students attending TM come from the attendance area. Maybe I'm missing something, but it doesn't seem like TM classes would be particularly diverse without the HCC kids in the building. Having the HCC program housed at TM taking classes side by side with the neighborhood kids just highlights the residential segregation problem. Without HCC at TM, the segregation is just by building rather than classroom. HCC students should not have to forego advanced classes just because SPS put the program in the wrong building years ago as part of some social experiment. No doubt greater efforts should be made to diversify HCC, but denying HCC students an appropriate education is not the solution. No doubt housing HCC at TM creates the appearance of segregation, but the HCC students did not create that problem and they should not be moved around like chess pieces to make the classrooms at TM look better while the underlying residential segregation is ignored.

--Step Back

Anonymous said...

Charlie said my "laundry list of insults" are never uttered by anyone in the HCC community. Well then I've got news for Charlie. I've heard quite a bit directly and you can check postings on this blog and the HCC blog for these labels and descriptives. They are collected from the postings within the last week. You are right to call out out on the use of racist/elitist/ snowflakes as I and many others have done. Those are hurtful characterization and unfair stereotype of students. But it's important to call out the stuff going the other direction too.

Hermano Tambien wrote a post at 5:30 pm which I find pretty upsetting in the characterization of brown skin kids. Does that pass the acceptable laundry list? In that post I see a teaching moment. Why is it ok to say things like that and think brown kids and their brown parents will accept it? It might for the poster, but the reaction around me was one of cringe and a few expletives. Maybe it's a form of left handed compliment, a la Anthony Scalia? To those around me, it felt like a punch in the stomach.

Is it only with people with the same IQ range and academic preparation that students can only discuss and learn social studies with? How did people 10,000 years ago manage to traverse the world, exchange the bad and the goods without speaking the same language or the same level of education and get to where we are today? For me, history is more than treaties, facts and political theories. Sure you may get young ones to read more difficult things because of their advanced vocabulary, but ask the teachers and they'll tell you that doesn't always translate to comprehension, critical thinking or applying ideas and events in historical context and to today's world. That takes classroom discussion. When studying the world (or this country), wouldn't it be more meaningful if you have a diverse student body to take advantage of that diversity and have students who have direct experience and knowledge of that part of the world (country) and its culture, history and customs to be part of the discussion and learning?

my 2cents

Anonymous said...

I believe Hermano Tambien is a minority, and is addressing the lack of minority(his) voice in taking away honors classes. It's a "we" statement not a "them" statement. I don't know exactly which post you are referring to, though.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Ah. 3:50? Yes, read that in the tone of a minority who has been told by white people all their lives what they feel. It makes more sense that way. Maybe HT will come back to correct me if I am wrong.

There are not enough girls in upper level math classes. Should we only offer one math class level per year to fully integrated them? As a math inclined girl- this would have been nightmarish for me, supposedly the person you are trying to help, who needed to not be thwarted by nice sounding but poorly thought out faux equity policies, since I had enough to deal with. Let me have my challenging classes.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Gen Ed Mom, I am sorry for all that happened to your student. I was at a school where all kids pretty much knew who the teacher would be for the next year. My son didn't have as much fun as you might have thought because there were 6 boys in the class for his entire 1-5 career. (If it had been 6 girls and 26 boys, I guarantee the school would have done something but they refused. You can imagine how the boys felt.)

That you had a principal who was not effective is not the fault of the HCC program. It is the fault of the district.

As for the tone of the classroom, I found that the kids seemed more easily controlled but that there still were kids with issues. No amount of smart can change issues for students. What I found more striking was the very low number of kids from divorced families. Given the divorce stats in this country, I thought it interesting.

The studies I have seen say what you said - teachers do better with gifted kids in the classroom (sadly, some of them think those kids should be "teaching" other kids.). They like when kids are engaged because it engages more kids. But what comes out is that teachers do better, other kids in the class do better but guess who doesn't? The gifted kids. So do we put more advanced kids in a regular classroom just to help the teacher and the other kids? You tell me.

2cents, you missed that Hermano Tambien self-identified as non-white. That's why he referred to his kids as brown.

I think you are right that students all have things to contribute to classroom discussion. But the assumption that all white/asian kids are the same is not true.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think there's been a lot of discussion and I will end it here.

I'll just say that I don't really have a problem with a waiver...for one school. But, as currently written, it sounds like a policy rewrite and that's for the Board to do, not one school.

Please, let the Board know what you think.