Thursday, August 18, 2016

100 Black Parents' Survey

In advance of the meeting tonight at Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 6 pm with Garfield principal Ted Howard and black parents at GHS,  I thought I would put up their short survey.

I'm putting it up for two reasons.

One, if there are any black Garfield parents who haven't seen it, they might want to weigh in.

Two, I note the list of items that is their wish list of 17 items.  Know what's NOT on it?  Blended classes.  It's a long list and that's not on it.  What they do say on honors is this:

Increase of black students in Honors and AP classes

Now I asked public education activist and Garfield teacher Jesse Hagopian about this issue of drawing more students of color into Honors/AP.  I asked if there couldn't be encouragement for kids to go into these classes and supports for those who need it.  He had no real answer except that there wasn't enough of a cohort of these kids for a comfort level for them.

A cohort.  Yes, that's a term used a lot at Garfield but usually HCC students.  It apparently matters to many groups of students.

What the list DOES include are supports like:

- academic supports like tutoring
- college/career opportunities
- resource list for testing, AP, etc and supports for tests like SAT/ACT, AP

I think the entire list is valid and quite interesting.

As well, you may remember that I posted an article earlier this year from The Atlantic on more black parents who are homeschooling.  Here's another interesting one on that same topic from the Christian Science Monitor.
While some parents cite religious and moral reasons, others say they are keeping their kids out of public schools to protect them from school-related racism.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Increase of black students in Honors and AP classes"

If this is what you call "blended classes", it's on the list.

Syllogism:

There are few black students in honors.
There will now be an Honors for All.
Therefore, there is a net increase of black students in Honors.

FWIW

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, that's not what I call "blended classes."

Anonymous said...

I just belatedly realized that "blended" must be your euphemism for "integrated".

FWIW

Melissa Westbrook said...

Nope. A blended class is one that starts with an identified group of kids and then, if not filled, is "blended" with students that teachers identify as being able to do the work and/or need the support that class may offer.

Jet City mom said...

My daughter took AP courses at Garfield. She also was enrolled in support classes for students who were catching up to grade level math and english.
( she did not really need the remedial english as much, but it was a package)
She had quite a few friends, often black, who were in both levels of classes.
They quickly caught up to grade level considering they began 1&1/2 yrs or so behind in math, and they graduated with honors.

Im sorry to hear that students are now not encouraged to participate, although even at this age, they pay the most attention to their parents encouraging them.
But if the parents dont feel it is a good fit, it can be an uphill battle for the teacher to try and convince both the student and the parents.

Anonymous said...

That is not how other schools necessarily define blended classes. Blended classes are often integrated or detracked classes where all students have the opportunity to earn an honors credit or other advanced distinction. They don't start with a certain group of students. The self-identified honors and non-honors kids are intentionally placed in the same classroom.

CST

Anonymous said...

Melissa you are wrong about "blended". SPS used to have something called a "blended kindergarten". It was simply a mixed track class with some extra special education support.

Wasn't 9th Grade Honors LA already "blended"? Yes it was. By every definition. It took an "identified group of kids" and filled up the classes with others. "Blended" has only become a hot button when Honors LA became Honors for All. The problem for HCC parents is the "for ALL" part. When HCC parents felt like they were no longer getting a special privilege, then "Blended" became something bad and "pc liberal". If having black students in Honors classes is a goal for black parents - then that will be happening with Honors for ALL. This is not something invented by white teachers. The solution - Honors for ALL - is obvious, and teachers in the trenches clearly see it, and called it like it is.

And by the way. It won't really be "Honors for ALL" at Garfield. The students in the "Garbage for Some" class will not be in "Honors for ALL" class. So HCC parents can take solace. They are still better than some. Maybe you can get the name changed to "Honors for Most".

reader

Anonymous said...

HCC parents do not look for "special privilege". They look for harder work so that their kids can be pushed as hard to excel as everyone else's kids. Kids who come out of school never having to work hard are immediately set up for failure in life. Kids who learn to work hard, at whatever level, will likely be successful.

Melissa's definition of "blended" fit both our Spectrum program (which was also sometimes called "inclusive") and also some of our HCC classes in which students who were not officially in HCC or Spectrum were identified by teachers as likely able to handle the extra work. If they did, they staying in the class and if they did not they were transferred out.

-SPSParent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I was given that definition years ago by district staff.

Anonymous said...

I just belatedly realized that "blended" must be your euphemism for "integrated".

Sheesh, FWIW. Really?

First of all, it's not Melissa's euphemism. It's a term that's been used by many, including SPS staff.

But to the main point, it's typically about blending ACADEMIC groups, not RACIAL groups. It's about mixing kids who were previously identified to be eligible for different programs, e.g., GE, Spectrum, HCC. It might mean, for example, that Spectrum-qualified kids join what would otherwise have been an HCC-only class. Or that Spectrum classes are eliminated and those kids are placed in GE classes. Or that all three groups are placed in the same class, under the premise that they can all be served well together despite their differences.

@ CST, you said: Blended classes are often integrated or detracked classes where all students have the opportunity to earn an honors credit or other advanced distinction. They don't start with a certain group of students. The self-identified honors and non-honors kids are intentionally placed in the same classroom.

Detracking, yes. Integration? No, unless you're talking about ability-level integration. "Blending" is not a term I've ever seen used to refer to racial integration of schools or classes. It may be a side effect of academic integration--in some but by no means all cases--but it's not what blending refers to.

And Melissa's comment about starting with certain groups is not incorrect. To do blending, you first recognize that there are these different groups, then you blend them. If you didn't start with separate groups, there wouldn't be anything to blend. Schools with blended classrooms are often strategic about it, e.g., spreading the different groups of students evenly across classrooms, or clustering them in specific group combinations.

HF

Anonymous said...

If, as Jesse Hagopian reportedly said, there isn't enough of a cohort of black kids at Garfield for a comfort level with honors and AP classes, why do they think the Honors for All approach will work?

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

Melissa stated that parents did not ask for blended classes at the meeting.

They did ask for more access to advanced learning and honors classes.

Why was it then stated they didn't ask for "blending" (given that we now know
what Melissa meant by "blending" after having to probe for her definition)?

That makes no sense to say parents didn't ask for blending specifically after they
made it clear that wanted more advanced classes.

This discussion about what "blending" means is not even relevant since it would have been redundant for the parents to ask for it (if they knew this now defined meaning) since what they asked for may include this type of class.

Which goes back to the question: Why was it stated specifically that parents didn't ask for a type of class that no one here even agrees on the meaning of? Melissa, why did you say they didn't ask for this class, when what they asked for would include this type of class?

FWIW

Yep said...

"The problem for HCC parents is the "for ALL" part. When HCC parents felt like they were no longer getting a special privilege"

A wonderful unsubstantiated claim that exemplifies discriminatory attitudes towards advanced learners and their families. .

Lynn said...

I assume Melissa is saying that the parents at the meeting want their children in traditional separate honors classes where all students are given more challenging work. They would know how well differentiation works in actual classrooms.

The change at Garfield is happening to make the teachers happy, not as a response to an expressed desire by black parents for blended classes.

Anonymous said...

Geez, FWIW. You love to argue, don't you?

They did ask for more access to advanced learning and honors classes. Why was it then stated they didn't ask for "blending" (given that we now know what Melissa meant by "blending" after having to probe for her definition)? That makes no sense to say parents didn't ask for blending specifically after they made it clear that wanted more advanced classes.

Let me school you now. Blending is where you put kids who are id'd to have different academic abilities into the same class. The 9th grade LA classes at GHS, for example, were already blended. HCC students used to have the ability to access a more challenging course, but that was eliminated a few years ago in favor of blended LA classes for freshmen.

According to Melissa's report, the parent survey identified an interest in providing greater access to AP (not "advanced learning" as you said) and honors classes. Greater access. That could mean providing better middle school level instruction to get kids ready, better counseling to encourage kids to take these classes, more supports to help kids wishing to take on the added challenge, etc. But what it does NOT suggest is that parents want unlimited access to and mandatory enrollment in AP and/or honors classes.

"Honors for All" represents blending, whereas greater access to AP and honors classes suggests the maintenance of different "levels" of instruction. Parents asked for the latter, but are getting the former. That's why Melissa brought it up.

Let me put it a different way. You said "That makes no sense to say parents didn't ask for blending specifically after they made it clear that wanted more advanced classes." Your comment is what makes no sense. "Blending" does away with the levels and distinctions, while "advanced classes" suggests the existence of levels and distinctions (i.e., a class is "advanced" relative to a more average class).

HF

Anonymous said...

Oh yes. The discrimination towards HCC is everywhere! If I push my kids, then the district must match my efforts otherwise it won't be challenge for them. Guaranteed seats at 3 high schools, a virtual assurance of alternative seat at 3 alt high schools, and a chance for a seat everywhere else, every foreign language the district offers, a right to great music programs, all AP and IB classes guaranteed, lab science and microscopes in elementary. It's just not enough! Please stop discriminating and give us more.

And we don't want any of this "for ALL" stuff, that just waters it all down. If it's "for ALL" it can't be good enough for me. Friends, lets post another 600 times about this injustice and discrimination. How else will anybody know about it?

But beware. We are loving ourselves to death. If some of us don't drop out of HCC, soon it will be unsustainably large. Any takers to decline? You know. Take one for the team? What good is HCC, if everyone is in it?

Curious

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

So much Seattle drama. The list frankly looks like a list from any parent group, with the exception of the discipline issue which (backed by date) statistically impacts black kids a disproportionate amount. That is an issue we can hopefully change policies to fix. Doesn't really make sense to me that a suspension is a real punishment anyway. I would personally like to see more community service - use it as an opportunity to teach skills and give kids a sense of contributing and doing something. Kudos to Anita and these other parents for getting organized.

I find it really interesting that accelerated classes are such a flashpoint in Seattle. State law stipulates all kids that qualify should be challenged with accelerated work. The parents who are experiencing the equity issue seem to be asking to have it addressed with more supports and structures. The parents of kids in the current accelerated classes have (in general) said that their experiences bear out that blended classes tend not to offer accelerated challenges.

When you step back and look at almost everything else at Garfield - sports, music, AP classes, running start - you realize that sorting kids by perceived ability is the model. If blending produces the best result for each group of kids, why aren't we blending everything? We don't do it, because we know it doesn't really work. Most parents tend to think that way - we understand our kids have different needs. I have two HCC kids and a gen ed kid. I know the HCC ones really benefit from accelerated pace and more challenging assignments. But it isn't the right scenario for my gen ed kid. I do however want great, engaged teaching for that kid too.

Sounds like everyone also believes that there are a bunch of kids in the gen ed cohort who with some encouragement and some support can do the accelerated work. Why on earth wouldn't we focus on that - as the one thing most reasonable people agree with? My $.02 is because it is hard. We probably aren't very good at fairly perceiving ability and nurturing all kids to excel - I am sure that is the case. If you don't have super engaged parents, are starting way behind.

So we are conflating two distinct but separate issues. Issue #1 should be what is the best way to deliver accelerated challenges to those learners. Issue #2 is how do we provide more support to a specific population of kids who appear to be underachieving versus potential.

The reason we are all talking past each other is that the teachers are really solving for issue #3: how to racially integrate the classes the quickest. I think we can stop pretending that honors for all is the optimal solution to 1,2 & 3. It is the optimal solution for #3.

- Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

What I find so interesting is that, of all the things these 100 black parents have asked for, the thing that a group of white parents have fixated upon is HCC and honors classes. That tells me this isn't about equity or desegregation, but about one group of white parents having deep resentment toward another group of white parents, and using kids of color to justify a desire to tear other people down.

Where's the demand for a diverse teaching corps? Where's the support for the NAACP and BLM in their fight against charter schools? Where's the support for local Seattle teachers who have fought against standardized testing, which is a racist practice? Where's the demand for disciplinary reforms? Where's the demand for culturally relevant curriculum?

Fauntleroy Father

Cap hill said...

Fauntleroy Father:

1. Garfield has already changed its practices on suspensions. Ted Howard has shared data showing a very significant drop y/y - probably have more to do. I haven't heard a single parent complaining about less suspensions. This is also something I have yet to hear a single parent say we shouldn't try to fix.

2. Standardized testing: most parents show their support or non support on the issue by opting out.

3. Demand for for a diverse teaching corps - sure, why not. The school and district need to come up with a plan to do this, but yeah - I think in general people would love to see this.

Point being the things you point out are *generally* things that most reasonable parents are in favor of. The thing that people are fixated on is the bs move.

Anonymous said...

@ Fauntleroy Father, what do you mean that "this isn't about equity or desegregation, but about one group of white parents having deep resentment toward another group of white parents, and using kids of color to justify a desire to tear other people down"? That white parents whose children have not been identified as gifted are resentful of the (predominantly) white (and Asian) parents whose kids have been, and so they want to see HC services reduced or eliminated, and that they jumped on the "equity means blending" bandwagon as a way to avoid their child not being in the "top" level? I could buy that.

Sad mom

Anonymous said...

Right Fauntleroy Father. One group of white parents, hate the slightest move towards equity and are willing to post about it on every blog, on every FB page, anywhere possible - to decry even the tiniest change which is the obvious solution to many problems. They'll quibble over what inclusion or blending means. Anything to keep an edge for their kids, even as they call complain about how the line in the sand they insist on defending wasn't all that great to begin with.


reader

Charlie Mas said...

Boy, everybody sure does want to be the spokesperson for the other side. I guess it's a lot easier to make a fake, bad argument for someone else than to make a good argument for yourself.

Anonymous said...

It's not an edge to HCC kids to meet their needs, that's what we should be doing for all kids. Being educationally different isn't necessarily "better," it depends on the kid. Many, many kids would be miserable in the HCC program just as many HCC kids were miserable before they joined.

No one who has posted in defense of HCC, anywhere, has done so on the grounds of defending racial division. I haven't heard or seen a single opinion on that. For HCC parents, it's an educational problem, not a racial one.

@Cap Hill, 8/19/16, 1:34 PM, I agree completely.

@Fauntleroy Father, 8/19/16, 3:12 PM, I agree. Where is the serious, detailed discussion of effective ways to help black students, if there is so much concern about them? They need real solutions, not superficial ones, but no one seems to care.

HCC

Yep said...


I remain concerned about individuals that prefer to pit groups against each other. Here is a good article regarding the needs of advanced learners.

https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/04/25/what-do-we-risk-losing-by-not-challenging-gifted-kids/

Frankly, some of the comments on this string are cringe worthy.

Anonymous said...

I agree 100% with Sad mom when they say this about the folks pushing the blended classes - at least, those who do so with open contempt for student academics: "That white parents whose children have not been identified as gifted are resentful of the (predominantly) white (and Asian) parents whose kids have been, and so they want to see HC services reduced or eliminated, and that they jumped on the "equity means blending" bandwagon as a way to avoid their child not being in the "top" level? I could buy that." And I say that based on my experiences talking with and reading from those resentful parents.

Charlie Mas's point is a fair one. I don't defend HCC as it exists because I know enough parents who are in it and see its shortcomings, but stay there because their child is better off there than at a neighborhood school. HCC at least makes an attempt to serve their child's needs. The blended neighborhood schools don't.

I do think some sort of Spectrum model is a smart one. We also need to do more to explore how to get more black and Latino and immigrant kids into advanced learning programs. I've seen immigrant kids who clearly have advanced learning capability get neglected in the neighborhood blended classrooms. Some have been able to make it to an HCC program, others didn't for various reasons. That needs to be addressed and it seems like there are many HCC parents who are keenly interested in doing just that.

There is an unspoken but very clear belief motivating the attack on advanced learning: that *any* attempt to serve advance learners is racist. Some even go so far as to say the very concept of advanced learning is racist. I wish people would just say this openly. It would make life so much easier for everyone.

I believe advanced learning is real and valuable - particularly for kids of color who otherwise will never have their abilities identified and nurtured. So I think we must devise inclusive ways to desegregate advanced learning delivery systems in SPS, but we must do so in ways that ensure every single child has their educational needs met. Right now the "smash advanced learning" crew is actively disdainful of such attempts, because it gets in the way of having their cathartic moment when the people they resent get pulled down and made to feel bad.

Racial and social justice isn't about ending some white mother's privilege. It's about ending systemic racism. It's about ending poverty and oppression and lack of power. I would be 100% on board with what's going on at Garfield or Thurgood Marshall if that was what was driving curriculum and program changes. It's not, and so a whole bunch of parents are starting to talk to each other and beginning to look for the exits from SPS.

Because, ultimately, you will not ever defeat a parent's desire to have the best for their child. Ever. So why not harness that for the cause of inclusion and equity, rather than use the term "equity" as a cover for an attack on parents who just want their kids' needs to be met?

Fauntleroy Father

Anonymous said...

Maybe instead of doing more to get more black and Latino and immigrant kids into the existing advanced learning programs, it would be useful to talk to parents of black and Latino and immigrant kids and find out what kind of advanced learning services would actually help their kids, and maybe even try to provide those services instead / in addition to the current ones. Over the years I have talked with many parents of students with Asian or African heritage who looked at the current AL offerings and found them completely inappropriate for their students. I for one would trust parents ahead of anyone else for the best guess as to what their students need.

Irene

Melissa Westbrook said...

Irene, I have suggested this to Board members and senior staff - ask parents of color what they would like to know about AL and how they would like to see their children served.

Watching said...

"That white parents whose children have not been identified as gifted are resentful of the (predominantly) white (and Asian) parents whose kids have been, and so they want to see HC services reduced or eliminated, and that they jumped on the "equity means blending" bandwagon as a way to avoid their child not being in the "top" level? I could buy that." And I say that based on my experiences talking with and reading from those resentful parents."

I noticed this comment, too. Disgusting.

I maintain that the city of Seattle should assist with providing children at risk with private testing services.

Anonymous said...

When I have asked the question to a few parents they said they wanted to see an advanced learning option that would maintain connections within their communities of origin as well as the larger communities. Specifically, they wanted more teachers who are trained in advanced learning and are African-American / Korean / Filipino / Vietnamese / Somali, and classes with at least some classmates with similar backgrounds. But that was just the few parents I asked.

The AL office probably has not done this kind of outreach because they are completely swamped with work just managing the selection process and have almost no time for anything else. But the board could request some public engagement around the question.

Irene

n said...

The teachers are also going to be available for study sessions after school (and maybe before school.)

I wonder if by stating he's got the right teachers now he's really saying I've got young, energetic and fresh teachers who can put in the time without cost to families. To me, part of the problem in education is teacher burn-out and fatigue. Yet asking teachers to do even more seems obvious.

Rather than asking for the names of teachers who left, I'd be more interested in understanding if there are common characteristics among the teachers: more senior (not older but with more years) teachers? Those with families and children who need them at home? Poorer teachers as evaluated by Howard?

I'm curious more than judging here. I've posted many times that teachers need more planning time. Perhaps Garfield has already managed that as part of its new model?

Anonymous said...

Charlie says, "Boy, everybody sure does want to be the spokesperson for the other side. I guess it's a lot easier to make a fake, bad argument for someone else than to make a good argument for yourself."

I agree 100%. So next time you're planning a long post against the positions and intent of corporate education reformers, Charlie, you should heed your own words.

Bill

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bill, I think you may have misunderstood what Charlie was saying. I believe he was saying that when there is a topic and all a commenter can do is say how wrong someone else is (rather than offer solutions or give their own cogent argument), then they may be doing it wrong.

I don't think Charlie or me care about stands on issues but if an issue is presented, have a good counterargument (or at least don't attack people personally.)

Charlie Mas said...

Bill, I have paid attention to the arguments made by Corporate Education Reformers. If I have misstated them, then please point out the errors. You didn't note any on the recent blog post on that topic.