Sunday, September 09, 2018

Washington Middle School Woes

 Below is a letter that Washington Middle School parents received from the principal.  Frankly, I was gobsmacked at seeing so many issues and that the principal seems to want to place blame on HCC  for several of them.  Additionally, the situation that WMS is in seems to show that Capital and Facilities do not seem to understand what happens when they take large numbers of students from one building to another in the name of "capacity management."
I'll preface by saying that I know, in past years, Washington Middle School was a fine school.  But over the last several years there has been upheaval over the Spectrum program, the music program and, of course, the reopening of Meany Middle School that saw about 500 students leave WMS.   That's a big hit for a school to have (we should also recall Whitman Middle School).

Most of the issues in this letter are man-made.  The principal chooses to blame the former principal for some of it.  But much of this lays at the feet of Teaching and Learning.  (Just to note, who's the Executive Director for Washington Middle School? No surprise to me, it's Sarah Pritchett who somehow seems to be the lead for many schools that end up with these kinds of issues.)

- Using LAP money wrongly - how did that happen? I'm a little shocked to see this admitted so plainly.
- No entry-level music courses - how did that happen?  I'm astonished to learn this is so.
- The school was "hoping" for an allocation for a teacher thru the summer. That's no way to plan for a school year.
- We had very few applicants, and, like Garfield High School, we were unable to find anyone to hire.
What's up with SPS' inability to hire foreign language teachers?  This seems to be now a perennial problem at Garfield.
- I don't question the principal's commitment but working up to the very end of summer on scheduling seems a formula for bad outcomes.  Again, what was the district doing?
- "...world language courses were to be taken almost exclusively by students in the Highly Capable program."  So it's the fault of HCC students and their parents because they enrolled?  Why aren't more students across the board enrolling?  I'm confident in saying that I'm sure that these courses are open to all.
- Students who were enrolled in French 1B and Japanese 1B will be given the opportunity to take the course on-line.  I'm going to assume this is cheaper than a teacher but what is the cost? And what about students who don't have computer access (or is this at school)?
- Instead, we have opened up four new sections of an innovative, entry-level music course that will enable 120 students who were not previously enrolled in music courses to participate in our music program. This is great but why hasn't there been an entry-level music course previous to this?

I have written to the Board and senior staff on this issue.  I ended that email saying that sometimes it is very hard to be supportive of this district.

Good evening, Washington Families,
We had a strong start to the week with great community-building taking place in advisories and at an all-school assembly on Wednesday and Thursday.  Due to scheduling problems, Friday was not a strong day at WMS, and for that I am ultimately responsible.

Many of you have questions and concerns about your child's schedule.  To give some context, the schedule was developed by previous administration with the hope that the school would receive an additional teacher allocation, which means that it included a position the school did not have. We were not given additional positions during the summer.  The position we needed but did not have funding for was an English Language Arts position, which is particularly concerning given just 29% of our students not served in any of the district's gifted programs have met grade-level standards. 
Throughout the summer, we were also searching for a teacher or teacher(s) for our French and Japanese courses.  We had very few applicants, and, like Garfield High School, we were unable to find anyone to hire.  Given both budgetary and hiring challenges, we decided to use the position to address the bigger priority of not having enough ELA teachers. This was a decision made early on Tuesday, 9/5, after the last lead we had for a teacher fell through and Garfield HS sent out a message to its families stating that first year French and Japanese will not be offered to students until the 2019-2020 school year.  Students who were enrolled in French 1B and Japanese 1B will be given the opportunity to take the course on-line.  Students enrolled in Spanish 1B will take that course.  Despite working late nights, all day on Wednesday and Thursday during Strong Start, and literally all night Thursday evening/early Friday morning, I was unable to get all students fully scheduled for Friday morning.  I’ve worked the majority of today and will work all day tomorrow in order to have them ready when your children come to school on Monday morning.
Many of you have questions about world language at WMS.  I have been impressed by WMS families' interest in and commitment to equity.  While world language is not a content area often thought of on par with English, Math, Social Studies, or Science, it is, unlike PE, music, technology, or fine arts courses, very often a requirement for admissions to college.  Exposure in middle school is important for all students and is a typical part of middle school programs in grade 8.  In reviewing course requests developed in the spring based not only on student interest but also the school's staffing capacity, world language courses were to be taken almost exclusively by students in the Highly Capable program.  83% of the 220 students were slated to take world language were in the HCC program, despite that group representing just over half of our student population; only thirteen were black (20% of our population) and nine Hispanic (just under 10% of our population).  Given the inequity in these figures as well as budgetary issues in other areas, we pushed all enrollment in first level world language to the 2019-2020 school year, and will spend the next budget and scheduling planning year identifying ways to ensure 100% of our 8th graders have access to world language.

Similarly, our music program has almost exclusively served HCC students.  Seventy-five percent of students who were slated to be enrolled in music this school year were in HCC and just 14% were black or Hispanic, and, due to our offering of four levels of band and orchestra and a course not offered at the high school level in Eclectic Strings, there were no opportunities to offer survey-level music courses which are standard in middle school.  When our famed orchestra teacher resigned two weeks before school started, it was not only a tremendous loss to the community, but an opportunity to increase all students’ access to our incredible music program.  We reduced our performance levels from four to three, which is in alignment with Garfield HS, and while difficult, decided to eliminate the course offering of Eclectic Stings/Fiddlers, which served only 17 students.  Instead, we have opened up four new sections of an innovative, entry-level music course that will enable 120 students who were not previously enrolled in music courses to participate in our music program.

When you view your child’s schedule next week, keep in mind that we are not only a public school, but also a small, public school.  Washington lost over 500 students in the last year and a half, which was almost half of its general fund or baseline budget. 
Additionally, almost 20% of our budget comes from additional Levy and LAP funding, which is exclusively for serving our students living in poverty and not meeting grade-level standards.  That is funding that has not always gone towards that purpose, but in making this year’s revised schedule, it was.  Given our advanced learning programs, we are a middle school that not only needs to offer intervention courses for more than a third of our population that is not meeting grade-level standards, but we also have offered upper-level high school courses atypical for middle school including Algebra 2, Chemistry, and Biology, all without receiving additional funding for students identified as ‘gifted’. 
In middle schools, it is typical for all students to take a rotation of PE/health, music, visual art, and computer/technology.  Choice at the middle school level is often limited to whether or not a student opts to be in band, choir, or the general music course.  This is in part because middle school is all about breadth and exposure, while high school begins to be more about depth.  As consistent with past practice, all 6th graders will take Health and PE.  I have worked extremely hard to ensure that all students who requested band, choir, or orchestra were placed in those courses.  Seventh and eighth graders will take a rotation of art, technology, the new music course or PE.  The school may not be able to honor all requests to waive PE courses as was done in the past.  Aside from music, our second largest elective department is PE/Health, with two teachers, and getting physical activity during the school day is beneficial to learning in middle grades in particular with the absence of recess.
I will send another update tomorrow afternoon/evening.  Your patience and understanding is appreciated as we work hard to finish tomorrow.

Mrs. Butler Ginolfi, Principal

Update:  a couple of articles about the principal, Emily Butler Ginolfi.  The first is from an Indiana newpaper, an inspirational piece;
“Emily’s successful methodology learned in athletics carried over into the classroom. She always wanted to teach at a ‘hard-knocks-kind-of’ school. Emily says the best thing she learned from me was to tell students something important at least three times,” said Wrenn, 
It appears she only stayed at that post one year.

This other piece, decidedly not inspirational, is from the Chalkbeat education blog, about a previous post in Indianapolis. 
Indianapolis Public Schools’ George Washington High School has lost more than a third of its teachers this summer after what the district acknowledged was a difficult transition year under a new leader.
The change wasn’t confined to teachers. Of the 116 total staff — teachers, administrators and support workers — nearly 40 won’t return, including vice principals, front office secretaries and a dean.
What's troubling is this pattern:
Butler said she was working around the clock — including scheduling multiple interviews on weekends — to get all the positions filled by the first day of school just two weeks from today.

The same problem happened last year, after Butler was hired late in the summer. Students and parents complained of substitutes filling in for months until teachers were hired.
end of update

97 comments:

Middleschool Mom said...

OMG, what????!!!!


Jet City mom said...

Is there a reason why Seattle cannot grow it’s own principals?

https://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/in/2015/07/20/a-third-of-george-washington-high-schools-teachers-wont-return/

Sheryl said...

We appreciate your attention to this as my kid is an incoming 6th grader at Washington.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jet City Mom, well, they are growing their own teachers but I haven't heard about a principal program.

Wowza said...

Hard to believe that a principal would take aim, pit and divide communities.

Shameful.

Anonymous said...

Speaking as an HCC parent, and only for myself, I did not feel the letter targeted or blamed the HCC community. The comments seemed descriptive. I was interested to receive the information.

There has been, and I believe will continue to be, beginning band, orchestra, and choir. There hasn't been an "intro to music" course at WMS since I've had a kid there,

The schedule stuff has been a hassle but I am far from ready to start accusing the principal. Again, speaking for myself, others may have access to different information.

Ruthie

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ruthie, thanks for that info. I'm a little confused then why the principal made it sound as if music were only available was upper level and there was nothing for beginners. That said, I also think it would be good to have chorus for kids who don't want to play an instrument.

I appreciate your support for the principal, hence, my calling out of district staff.

No matter what, the scheduling issue is a major error.

Anonymous said...

Highly educated people are pouring into Seattle for jobs. Thousands a day. Many of these people have families with school-aged children, and they have expectations that the public schools offer a world-class education for their students, whether or not they are in HCC. The companies hiring these workers also depend on world class schools to attract those workers. Again and again, as at Washington and Whitman, we see a district that can't keep its eyes on more than one ball at a time. A district this big has many, many balls in the air at once.

Whether you're arriving in Seattle from Boston, Austin, Shanghai, or the European Union, you expect your middle school to offer three solid years of literature/writing, math, science, social science, as well as three solid years of world languages and music. Anything less than that is simply second-rate, and anything less than that is what drives families out of public schools and into private schools. It creates fertile ground for charters as well.

The inability to hire French teachers is shocking! Its an official language of a country only 3 miles away from us and is spoken by 130 million people globally, most of whom are in Africa and the Middle East.

The fact that we're limited to only 6 periods in middle school further limits our ability to be world class, since it locks most students out of exploring electives like art, etc. This idea that middle school is for exploring different areas rings completely hollow in a district where there are only 6 periods per day.

I do notice a pattern, however: the schools that are most hostile to HC students tend to be the ones that eventually implode like this. Not always, but often. Ironically and sadly, it's the HC sites attended by more low-income students that suffer from this problem, which further erodes the ability of low-income students to access advanced coursework if they need it. Hostility to HC doesn't improve things for anyone; it merely scapegoats a vulnerable population of students without improving anything for anyone. This is palpable in Soup for Teachers and other forums, where you get whiffs of what some teachers really think (misguidedly) about HC students.

Washington and Whitman are examples of middle schools that have lost their way and are led by principals with narrow visions and limited perspective about what parents actually want education in Seattle to be like. This kind of incompetence is breathtaking.

Richard

Anonymous said...

What is left unexplained entirey in the WMS principal letter is the rationale behind dropping Spanish for 7th graders, and instituting a new rule that world language is now only for 8th graders. Spanish is one of the most high value subjects for all students and it has all of a sudden been eliminated, with no explanation why. and no notice, for all but 8th graders.

WMS

Anonymous said...

I felt the letter was fairly out there in terms of HCC blaming. It is a divisive way to start out.

And I agree with Melissa that it is also shocking that the Executive Director Sarah Pritchett has allowed all of this to unfold in the manner that it has unfolded.

Serious questions about WMS and T&L leadership.

reader

Matthew Cary said...

Several years ago I was on the PTA board of Madrona K-8 when we were having problems hiring music and art teachers. The two main problems seemed to be that (1) the jobs were part time, and (2) required certification. There were just not that many applicants with certification who had a schedule that could fit the 8 hours a week or whatever it was we were looking for.

I think it's hard when the district/union requires certified professionals who generally look for full-time positions, when the pay and hours are attractive only as part time/supplemental work where getting certification is not realistic.

I should add that I don't know about the full-time/part-time situation in this case, middle school language teaching could be a different situation from elementary art and music (although I don't know if it *should* be...).

This is all speculation. But generally my impression is that outside of core teachers and staff, schools have the budget demands for the gig economy but the bureaucracy for old-fashion full-time jobs.

Matthew Cary said...

Several years ago I was on the PTA board of Madrona K-8 when we were having problems hiring music and art teachers. The two main problems seemed to be that (1) the jobs were part time, and (2) required certification. There were just not that many applicants with certification who had a schedule that could fit the 8 hours a week or whatever it was we were looking for.

I think it's hard when the district/union requires certified professionals who generally look for full-time positions, when the pay and hours are attractive only as part time/supplemental work where getting certification is not realistic.

I should add that I don't know about the full-time/part-time situation in this case, middle school language teaching could be a different situation from elementary art and music (although I don't know if it *should* be...).

This is all speculation. But generally my impression is that outside of core teachers and staff, schools have the budget demands for the gig economy but the bureaucracy for old-fashion full-time jobs.

Anonymous said...

WMS - I don't read the principal's letter as instituting a new rule that 7th graders can't take a language. Isn't the decision essentially to take the current year to "reboot" the world languages program? Seems like a reasonable choice under the circumstances, given that there is no one to teach French or Japanese (a longstanding problem not confined to WMS). I can't speak to the choice about 7th grade Spanish.

A second letter from the principal came last night, and apparently there will be a special PTA meeting next week to discuss all of this. Meanwhile, I would urge everyone to take a deep breath.

Ruthie

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why middle school foreign language classes vary so much from one middle school to the next. At Whitman, students could only take 1 semester of a foreign language while at Hamilton, students could take a full year. This created a bit of a problem when Eagle Staff opened and you had students who had a half-year and students who had a full year of Spanish placed together in the same class.

More importantly, I think all students should have access to a full year of a foreign language starting in 6th grade. The younger you start, the more you will learn. Foreign languages should be considered a core academic priority. But students' access to foreign language classes seems to vary significantly between middle schools.

Jane

Anonymous said...

Additionally, at some middle schools students are not allowed to begin a language after 6th or 7th grade. That means interested and/or new-to-the-school 8th graders are completely shut out of taking foreign language classes. Why?

Flummoxed

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

Ruthie - You are mistaken. No 7th graders will be offered any world language option at WMS. A less drastic solution to the situation of not being able to hire a French/Japanese teacher would have been to hire an additional Spanish teacher so that any 7th grader could at least have one world language option. HOw is this equitable? And yes, Music and World language classes are open to all students at WMS if they choose to take them.
WMS parent

Anonymous said...

Well they didn't have inequity in access to foreign languages before--students presumably had the same access, regardless of whether HCC or not. Now, since the principal decided to scrap it since mostly only HCC students wanted it, they DO have inequity in access. Most non-HCC students didn't want it, so HCC students who do want it can't get it. HCC students' access to classes they want seem to be dependent on non-HCC students interests.

Given our advanced learning programs, we are a middle school that not only needs to offer ...all without receiving additional funding for students identified as ‘gifted’.
Nice. "Gifted." Maybe she could have expanded on that and called them "so-called 'gifted'," since that's how it comes across. Not to mention that they have not been identified as "gifted" in the first place, but rather "highly capable."

The music decision seems like it makes sense--if you have limited resources you can only offer a limited number of levels, and it's important to offer intro level access--but there was absolutely no need to suggest HCC was to blame. A simple "it was not sustainable to offer as many options and levels as we had been doing, so we have restructured the offerings to maximize access while still serving as many of our most advanced musicians as possible" was all that was needed. The interests of HCC students ma have been why they had so many levels to start with, but if so, that was and administrative decision to do so--and if they screwed up and created something unsustainable, that's on them.

I fully understand that it's challenging to run a school that has such a diverse range of learners and learning needs, especially in SPS, which doesn't provide the additional supports that would be needed. However, this principle SERIOUSLY needs to learn to communicate better from a place of unity and collaboration rather than driving wedges deeper. No need to call out any group. Why not just come out and say "we have a lot of diverse learners and need to provide for a range of needs, which is challenging in the current funding climate. As a result, we've had to make certain changes..." It would have been nice to also see something like this at the end: "I'll be holding a community meeting to talk about some of the hard decisions that had to be made, and what we'll be doing--this year and in the future--to help ensure that as many students as possible get what they need. Please know that I'm also working with district officials to see how they can help us meet student needs, and I'll be inviting our regional Executive Director and other district officials to the community meeting as well."

Which begs the question, if WMS can't manage it's larger HCC population, how the heck do district officials think we're going to be able to move to the HCC-in-all-schools model?

DisAPPointed

Anonymous said...

There have obviously been years of mismanagement -- YEARS -- and lack of oversight addressing the needs of all students. Let's focus on demanding better management and try to avoid sanctimonious rants for or against any one demographic. Let's encourage the principal to do same.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I'll reprint your comment only because I want to ask you a question. But if you read our Comments policy (right above the comment box), you'll see - no anonymous comments. We also don't allow name-calling of students - ever. Don't do that again.

"As the parent of a former WMS student let me say this, HCC parents say its unfortunate the shrinking program now these "poor students" wont have access to this great programming. Well let's be clear they don't have access. Black and brown kids at Washington were overwhelmingly in health and PE with lack of access to WL and Music. And the fact HCC parents want so desperately to keep this outdated model of HCC cohort heightens the issue. Schools are funded a certain number of teachers and then schools have to figure out how to allocate those teachers to the classes their students need. But until all kids are in the same Elective rotation at the middle school this will continue to be a problem. Quit opting your kids out of health and PE and saying that your special wonder needs three years of middle school language to the detriment of CTE, Health and PE which are required courses. You don't know the inner workings of the school, the laws, the mandates, the issues, so until you spend a day in the principals shoes why don't you quit complaining. This blog is full of whiners."

So it's whining that an entire school's schedule is out of whack?

"Black and brown kids at Washington were overwhelmingly in health and PE with lack of access to WL and Music."

Please explain that statement. How are some students denied access?

Any WMS parent, if you receive another letter and/or notice of a school meeting, please let me know. sss.westbrook@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

@Jane
Yous asked " I don't understand why middle school foreign language classes vary so much from one middle school to the next. At Whitman, students could only take 1 semester of a foreign language while at Hamilton, students could take a full year. This created a bit of a problem when Eagle Staff opened and you had students who had a half-year and students who had a full year of Spanish placed together in the same class."

I believe it is because of the complexity of offering dual language immersion program and kids splitting to other schools. This has nothing to do with the HC program. However, HIMS also hosted a HC program prior to split to Eaglestaff, so there were HC kids (some also dual language) split from HIMS to Eaglestaff.

However IMO, the district also seems to be moving towards standardizing what is offered at elementary, middle and high schools. However, they are still offering the dual language immersion program which creates a paradox situation. Students at HIMS used to get credit for spanish, 1, 2 & 3 then things changed in recent years and their transcript now reads spanish 2A & 2 B in 8th grade etc.

In other areas besides foreign language they eliminated spectrum programs & have been splitting HC so it is in many more schools. They are also trying to keep HC at the same level in various subjects as general ed and other kids. In recent years HC kids who were 3 years ahead in math were encouraged to go ahead no more than 2 years. They also separated math from HC and now also place students outside of HC into the same two year ahead math classes. The only class where HC students enter into high school in a different class is science. LA & SS classes in high school have both general & HC students. However they may offer honors LA options or separate honors SS classes.

SPS observer

Anonymous said...

IMO it's not that black & brown kids lack access to world language or music. However, as race intersects with class, I am guessing many black & brown parents may not be paying for & and/or have the time to drive their kids to after school sports etc.

AT WMS the HC kids are also probably the more affluent kids. Many middle and upper class families with kids in SPS (important caveat HC or not HC) at all schools waive PE as their kids are taking sports outside school. This allows a student to have more room in the daily schedule for foreign language and music. In high school same goes for Health.

We had a conversation recently with an HC student who is also white but also very low income FRL and was identified very late in 8th grade. The parent had no idea the kid could waive health in high school and take online, nor the benefit of taking foreign language for college prep.

The focus should not be on what middle class or affluent students choose to be better prepared for college. Maybe the middle and high school counselors need to do a better job of communicating the benefits of taking foreign language for prep for a selective college to all students and focus on FRL populations.

SPS parent

D.R. said...

Butler Ginolfi needs to offer "intervention courses for more than a third of our population that is not meeting grade-level standards." Of course she does. This is a critical component of her job as an administrator. However, 70% of the students at the school don't need these intervention courses. So, while the 30% who do need them take them, the other 70% of the students need something to do. Turns out that's ALSO Butler Ginolfi's job.

What happened to:
"Our students come first."
"Seattle Public Schools is committed to excellence in education for every student."
"Every student, every day."

She sounds like she dislikes and disapproves of over half of her own student body! Follmer was getting $137,000 a year. And whatever Butler Ginolfi is getting, it's to be the administrator for ALL the students.

Anonymous said...

SPS should have foreseen that they were creating a mess at WMS when they decided to make it a mix of HCC and geographically less well off kids all in one school. If it hasn't worked at Thurgood Marshall, why did they replicate it at WMS? This lack of thoughtfulness for economically disadvantaged students is terrible; it just reinforces the inequality of our society. I have family who went to WMS in HCC and Spectrum a few years ago, and it was a great school.

Helen

Anonymous said...

This is the vibe that we got from the first letter: "She sounds like she dislikes and disapproves of over half of her own student body!"

Parent

Anonymous said...

I am watching this transition closely. I have a 5th grader at TM who will be at WMS next year, in HCC. My older child just moved on to Garfield. I want to give the new principal the benefit of the doubt and assume that her email was hastily put together after many sleep deprived nights of schedule sorting, but like the others, I am disheartened to hear how a distinction between the needs of scholars and HCC students is discussed in this letter. I 100% support attention to the fact that such a low % of scholars are meeting grade level standards, but the presence HCC population is not the reason for this. Music and language are technically open to all students, although I understand that in the case of music, there is a cost associated with renting an instrument that can be a burden for low income families. Is the goal of supplying instruments for FRL kids still communicated to all students?

~Hopeful things sort out

Anonymous said...

I'm still trying to get past the idea of online world language classes (for middle schoolers, no less) for Year 1. That's like learning how to play a sport by watching youtube videos. Crazy!

intervention needed!

Anonymous said...

Families received another email from the principal at 8:57 pm last night (Sunday 9/9). A few things stand out to me:

1) Principal Butler Ginolfi says she looks forward to making "a stronger plan for next year." It's day 4! Let's please not write off THIS year already!

2) According to families posting on the WMS facebook page, many kids do NOT in fact have adequate schedules today (Monday), including kids missing core classes and being assigned to entirely wrong classes. I don't know what's up with my kid because schedules STILL aren't posted on the Source for families to see (I assume the parents posting on Facebook either went to school this morning or heard from their kids).

3) My understanding from a WMS counselor is that NO language option is being offered to 7th graders this year and that will affect their ability to enter a 2nd-year high school language class in 9th grade. So despite the district's recent commitment to improving world language pathways, this actually eliminates the pathway for current 7th graders at WMS (who would have to start in High School Spanish 1 after taking Spanish 1 in 8th grade)?

--Frustrated (letter from WMS copied & pasted below)
_________________________________
Good evening, Washington Families,

Schedules are done! All students will pick up their schedules tomorrow morning in the cafeteria during breakfast and immediately transition to first period. In order to keep the size of advisories consistent with previous years (under 20), we moved advisory to the time period before lunch. The revised bell schedules will be posted to the website by the end of the day.

The schedules handed out tomorrow will not yet be viewable in PowerSchool until end of day tomorrow. They were done in a spreadsheet for efficiency and mail merged on an easily-readable Word document for students. The counseling team and our registrar will have them in PowerSchool for your review on The Source by the end of the school day tomorrow. I will send an additional School Messenger (these messages) out tomorrow afternoon with information regarding scheduling change requests. PTSA has shared with me that many of you would benefit from a one-pager outlining the differences in schedules from last year to this year. I am happy to put that together and will have out to you by end of day on Tuesday. There will also be a special PTSA meeting on Monday, 9/17 at 7pm at the school with a brief presentation further explaining the info I shared in my last message followed by a Question and Answer session. More info to come on that, too.

Thank you, again, for your patience. I also appreciate the questions I've received and look forward to continuing the discussion regarding our budget, the schedule, and equity in the coming weeks and months so the school has a stronger plan for next school year.

Mrs. Butler Ginolfi, Principal

Anonymous said...


I wonder where she thought she was going to be the principal? And how does such a shockingly divisive person (based on her email) ever get to lead a school?

Sorry that those students need Algebra II and Bio. (They also used to get accelerated learning in SS and LA but that has been watered down so much that it is nearly nonexistent.) But they do and it is just basic education!

Getting rid of 7th grade world languages because not enough non-hcc kids take it is wrong headed and should be challenged by everyone who cares about SPS. Especially in a district with how many LI programs? So if you are HCC in the south you can't take language until 8th grade but in the north you can in 6th or 7th? I can see cutting Languages but not all languages. This is a huge BLUNDER and seems from their email it is all about not wanting to meet the varied needs of HCC kids.

doyour job

E. Eagle said...

Here's the other crucial issue. SPS has over 50,000 students living in lots of different neighborhoods and attending lots of different schools. It's pretty lame for students who happen to live in the Washington zone to have such limited access to world languages and music.

Eckstein doesn't have HCC, but they offer seventh graders Spanish 1A, French 1A, and Japanese 1A. Eighth graders can choose between Spanish 1A, Spanish 1B, French 1A, French 1B, Japanese 1A, Japanese 1B.

Eckstein offers math 7, 8, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra II, putting students into whatever is the right level for them. And not bellyaching about it.

Eckstein offers Guitar, Beginning Orchestra, Junior Orchestra, Intermediate Orchestra, Senior Orchestra, Beginning Band, Junior Concert Band, Intermediate Band, Intermediate Jazz Band, Wind Ensemble, Senior Jazz and Combos.

Washington middle school students have fewer options than Eckstein middle school students and HCC has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

There's a huge difference between not having "access" to a class vs. "choosing" not to participate. Music at WMS was ALREADY open to everyone regardless of experience or money.

Some excerpts from the Myths and Facts section of the WMS Music Department:

"Myth: I don’t think my family can afford this, so it’s not for me

Fact: Music at WMS is for everyone. We can help provide you with the resources you need at no cost


Myth: I can’t read music or play any instruments at all, so this will be too hard for me

Fact: Most students who join beginning level have never played any instruments. We learn how to read music starting with basic note reading and rhythms. Your prior knowledge is not a factor!


Myth: None of my friends participate in a music class, so I won’t know anyone

Fact: With over 50% of the school population in a music class, you will make new friends! We also encourage you to invite your friends to learn an instrument with you."


https://washingtonms.seattleschools.org/academics/music_department/

Fact Check

Anonymous said...

Frustrated and all others,

This needs to be resolved now. Please call or email your school Board member now.

APP Parent

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous

I do want to correct one thing you claim specifically. You refer to the cohort model as being "outdated" for hicap services delivery. This is not accurate and is a widespread source of confusion in Seattle Public Schools. The issue of cohorting is nuanced and is rarely addressed with the needed nuance.

Because hicap students typically show delayed social development, hicap students developmentally will hit social milestones at different and later times than their will their age peers. The cohort model is widely recognized to be the best way to addressing this major developmental difference at the primary level (i.e., elementary school and early middle school). By secondary level (i.e., high school), hicap students have usually caught up in their social development, and the cohort model is not usually needed per se, so long as appropriately leveled coursework is available to hicap students in high school.

However, the appropriately leveled coursework is one of the main challenges for hicap students at high school level. In a large district, it is usually not cost-effective to offer advanced coursework at every school, so for financial reasons we usually see cohorts at secondary level. If appropriately leveled coursework is not available at every high school hicap students would attend, then a cohort model remains preferable - not for developmental reasons but as a practical matter.

Seattle uses a cohort model at elementary level and a partial cohort model at middle school level. Both of these are sound, evidence-based practices. Seattle does not use a cohort model at high school level, except that for financial and other reasons having nothing to do with hicap students in and of themselves the district chooses to group hicap students at a small number of high schools where offering appropriately leveled coursework is cost-effective.

-Simone

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous, Simone has it right re: cohorts, and other have it right re: access to WL and music (not a lack of access, but rather a lack of interest--perhaps borne out of a lack of understanding of the value of WL and/or the availability of free instruments, so something the school could tackle via parent and student outreach).

As to your statement that CTE is required in middle school, required by whom? Other middle schools don't require it, and I know of plenty of other middle schools that don't do a PE-Health-CTE rotation. Some schools combine PE and Health into one semester-long class, then students can take an art class or another elective the other semester.

unclear

Anonymous said...

I think that all families with incoming students at WMS deserve a HUGE apology from the District, first for a principal who starts out denigrating any demographic and second for not having things in place for the start of school. Seriously, did nobody see this coming? So blame HCC? Instead of management? Prichett ought to be fired, and this new principal ... what to say.

Tax payer

Anonymous said...

Simone and E Eagle both make great points. We have a district where more affluent schools with or without HC (like Eckstein) have more majority students taking advanced language as well as music because there is a demand.

HC kids are often the same demographic as the Eckstein kids and if given the opportunity they take the same elective courses as other middle & affluent kids from their demographic in the district.

However, when the program gets placed next to kids in the same school who are not taking those courses they become a target for equity. Theoretically by their attendance & aspirations, the HC kids should be bringing opportunity for more advanced math & elective courses to all at the school.

However, I am guessing there are indeed some less affluent kids who do take advantage of the foreign language & music offerings. When these electives get cut, they are affected and they also suffer.

The focus should be on increasing participation of FRL students in music & foreign language courses.
PK

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The focus should be on increasing participation of FRL students in music & foreign language courses." Boom! Was that so hard? Please go tell that to Director DeWolf who seems to look at equity in a myopic manner.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent Juneau,

I welcome your leadership and many of the thoughtful communications you have shared since taking the helm of SPS. Unfortunately, I am contacting you now as the new leader at WMS has cut 7th grade world languages. This will have dire complications for any student on a college preparatory track. In addition, this really heightens the disparity of the north HCC versus south HCC program especially as you look at HIMS with three languages and three years versus WMS scheduled to change to one year and one language.

In addition, I urge you to review the email sent to parents by the principal blaming HCC for budgetary concerns and their high interest in world languages and music programs. I found those espoused beliefs to be very unwelcoming as a member of the HCC community.


Director DeWolf,

As the parent of a seventh grader at WMS I hope that you will short circuit this and return world languages to seventh graders THIS YEAR even if it is merely online access.

Best regards

Anonymous said...

It is fake equity to take away programs and classes. True equity is finding ways to include everyone.

I mean, think about it. The United States is an inequitable country. Do we just say "welp, sorry folks, we're ending the USA now, go find your own country?" No. We figure out how to fix it. (Well, "we" meaning everyone who didn't vote for Trump.)

WMS parents should be furious. This is about dumbing down the curriculum out of a belief that low income kids need a diet of language arts and math all day long in order to raise test scores...which is totally, 100% wrong.

Leschi parent

Anonymous said...

New schedules today at WMS were not correct for many students. My senior band student is now assigned to take the new beginning music elective whether she wants to take it or not. Total waste of time.
WMS parent

Anonymous said...

Talk about mismanagement. What about a language arts class with 46 pupils? You might as well stay home. Who is affected by these large class sizes?

The robocall from the principal today said that there are a few classes that are too large. It's not even thinkable, but here it is done.

tax payer too

Anonymous said...

What are the "dire consequences" of not being able to take a foreign language in middle school? Colleges want 2 years; highly competitive colleges want three. All of which you can get in high school. "Dire"? I do not think this word means what you think it does.

Inigo

juicygoofy said...

I just want to chime in here, anecdotally, and add that full year Spanish 1 in 6th grade at Hamilton was a fantastic class for my HC kid. It was fast paced and exactly the kind of challenge she needed. It excited and motivated her not just to go to learn the language, but to also learn about Hispanic cultures. She is now in Spanish 3 in 9th grade, with AP Spanish planned for 10th, and probably 2 independent study years after that. It's very likely that she will be FLUENT by graduation. Every child, HC or not, should have the same opportunity.

Robert said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

@ Inigo, “easy to get three years of a foreign language in high school”? I’m not sure Garfield students would agree.

Doesn’t missing out on middle school foreign languages also make you ineligible for IBX, which is supposed to be one of the HC service options. I believe you need to enter high school at 2nd year language level, which means two years of middle school foreign language.

HS soon

Anonymous said...

HS soon, that is another example of the in equality of going to school south of the ship canal.

Also as everyone knows the earlier you are exposed to both music and world languages the easier it will be.

Finally, it is set up so that they take one year over two years - 1a and 1b. Now they will take 1a as an eighth grader and have to repeat 1a as a freshman? Not great for a HC kids and in direct opposition of best practices for such learners.

Anyone know what they offer at Meany?

APP parent

Anonymous said...

I think WMS is the District telling parents: stop with your *#&$# expectations! This is a PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM! You should have no expectations."

Charlie

Anonymous said...

You are no Charlie.

Everyone should anticipate basic education. WMS is SPS saying we can't teach HCC kids with hostile admins.

Whole truth

Eric B said...

HS Soon, not entirely, but it is more of a challenge. My older kid did IBX starting with French 1 in 9th grade. French 2 was taken in an online summer class, followed by 3 and 4 IB in 10th and 11th, respectively. It worked, but it wasn't ideal.

Anonymous said...

After yet another day of sitting in the cafeteria yesterday, the eighth grader finally has a full schedule today! No Spanish 1B, although Spanish 1A was last year's elective. Planning to try a schedule change request to remedy that; we'll see what happens.

HS Soon and others - For perspective, our oldest took no world language at WMS, excelled in 4 yrs of language at GHS (including AP) and is now attending a top tier liberal arts school on a partial merit scholarship. There are many routes to success for your student.

All that said - You'll get no argument from me that disparate world language offerings across the middle schools is an equity problem.

Ruthie

Anonymous said...

I don't think that's an option anymore, Eric. Yes, it worked for some, but it's my understanding they are no longer allowing it [an online class over summer]. Having a year of French 1, where pronunciation and basics are covered, makes a 3 month summer online class more doable [3 months, not an entire school year]. Very different than asking a middle school student to learn a language online when they have had no exposure to the language.

As a side note, support for the IBX option is paper thin. IHS is clearly discouraging the option. It's still an option, but course options are scheduled more around those following the traditional IB pathway. There was also talk about RESMS not allowing Algebra 1 for 6th graders (which means they would not have to offer Algebra 2).

more ceilings

Anonymous said...

I agree with juicygoofy. My child had the opportunity for 3 years of fantastic Spanish at HIMS etc. It is a dual language immersion school so foreign language is a focus. Not fair some will not be able to choose even two years of foreign language in middle school. Also, at some high schools due to overcrowding kids do not always get the language classes they choose. We know of one student who ended up not getting assigned to AP Spanish in 10th. Choice is to take Spanish online, TA or have a gap year in Spanish instruction probably not the best option. Until the high schools are right sized, foreign language is an elective and not a guarantee.
JK

Anonymous said...

There is no guarantee students will be scheduled for 4 years of WL in HS. Only 2 credits of World Language are required for HS graduation. Most likely, scheduling priority will be for those who need the credits for graduation (even though extra WL languages count toward the elective credits students need). Schools also don't guarantee that students will be able to continue with the same WL they took in MS.

It's great to hear things have worked out just fine for some of those whose children have graduated, but there have been changes as schools deal with overcrowding, budget constraints, and differing ideas about what constitutes the "basics."

times a'changin'

Anonymous said...

Equity isn’t taking away foreign languages from kids who sign up, even if they are mainly HCC and equity isn’t adding/changing kids to a music survey course (which isn’t that what elementary school is about - of course at most elementary schools you get music or art which is an issue at the start) without looking at what they’re asking to take and why.

Equity is the middle school schedule I had (and a similar one that I see in at least a few schools I’ve looked up recently on the East Coast), where all 6-8 graders take math (leveled based on incoming skills), social studies, science, language arts and a foreign language. All kids take an art (choice of art, chorus, band/orchestra), all kids take PE/health and all kids take a rotation of home ec/technology. I thought maybe it was because the school days were longer, but actually, they weren’t meaningfully (aside from the Wednesday early dismissals).

That’s (more) equitable. Everyone gets exposure to everything. Then they can adequately choose to focus more in high school based on their strengths and interests. And they get basically the same thing no matter what part of the city they live in. Maybe some schools only offer Spanish or Spanish and French, while another might offer Spanish and German or Spanish and Japanese, but the overall experience is pretty consistent. Which makes way more sense than here where your entire school experience (Hale vs Roosevelt), elective offerings (art or music in most (all?) elementary schools), foreign languages (WMS vs Eckstein vs Hamilton) is different, simply based on your home address.

NE Parent

Anonymous said...

...just now reading the dates of the articles posted by MW. Is it correct that the new WMS principal, and TFA alum, is also new to WA and new to SPS? And the last position she held was at the George Washington High School in Indianapolis? What experience does she have with gifted or highly capable programming? The high school looks like is it organized into career academies - not a traditional comprehensive high school. The Chalkbeat article does not inspire confidence.

wow.

Anonymous said...

@wow, it certainly raises significant questions about how principals are chosen in SPS and for what reasons. Why was someone from outside the district and from a TFA background made a principal? Why not someone from within SPS who has a better understanding of our community?

Leschi parent

Anonymous said...

@Leschi parent
One of the things going on is that principal hiring has to go through a racial equity step, which has led to some unexpected hiring decisions. For instance, both Bryant and Thornton Creek have new principals who are out-of-district hires this year and both were surprise picks. That said, both seem to be very strong hires, actually, so that's good news for those schools. Elsewhere as at Washington MS, not so much. But the district has been intentionally ignoring its pool of "home-grown" candidates and favoring out-of-district hires under Nyland.

Richard

Anonymous said...

The latest SEA contract included changes in the language around equity. "Race and Equity" was changed to "Racial Equity." Was this change meant to reflect the original intent, or was the intent changed? SPS board policy on educational equity includes disability, income, etc.

wondering

Box Ticking said...

Having watched a different recent principal hire play out, I think it's quite possible that at her job interviews they only asked her questions about her opinions on "equity" and basically not much else. They certainly don't seem to have looked for someone with a demonstrated track record as a gap closer. I'm strongly in favor of hiring members of minority groups, but a principal who is going to run a hicap program should have or get some training and/or experience in hicap education. It seems like for WMS it would have made sense to hire someone who is either a gifted gap closer or has a background in hicap education (preferably both). Instead they seem to have gone with someone who ticked their diversity box but appears to have a track record of scrambling around at the last minute and making a lot of teachers quit...

Anonymous said...

I'm especially concerned about her quote that "educators in particular can be very rigid in their beliefs." You mean...they believe in their professional expertise? So she thinks educators in particular are the problem?

Teach

Anonymous said...

"Equity" is the reason given for justifying many SPS decisions, yet there is no generally accepted definition of the term and no generally accepted way of measuring it. "Equity" just seems to be the reason for justifying whatever they want to do.

This makes no sense.

Fed up

Anonymous said...

Question: do parents normally serve on hiring committees for school principals? I know this happens here and there, but it doesn't sound like this was the case at WMS. Having parent/community representation on a hiring committee for a principal search seems like a step in the right direction for finding a good match between a principal and a given school.

Flummoxed

Anonymous said...

I guess my original post was deleted because I didn’t sign with a pseudonym.

HCC has never been a perfect program, nor has any other program in SPS or any other school in the world. However, by in large, most HCC students do okay and are largely satisfied with their classes. Most have supportive parents who have the time and resources to advocate for their kids. Most have parents who can pay for high quality after school and summer programs. WMS has long been a segreagated school. For years black students at WMS have been vastly underrepresented in the HCC program, and they have been amongst the lowest scoring, if not the lowest, black students in the district. In short, the gen ed program at WMS has been in crisis for a long time. I think the new principal hire was brought in because of her experience in helping turn struggling schools around in both Baltimore and Indianapolis. She went to Northwestern and has graduate degrees from both Johns Hopkins and Columbia, so I am sure she understands what preparation is needed to succeed in postsecondary education. I am sure she cares about all students, but I understand her attempt to focus WMS’s limited resources on helping address the fact that only 29% of general ed students at WMS meet standard. Because most students in HCC do not qualify for F/R Lunch and make up such a large chunk of the WMS population, WMS has never received the same Title I dollars that other SPS middle schools, like Mercer, get to help their students in need. For years, WMS did not have reading and math coaches like Aki and Mercer did. One reason why many gen ed students do not enroll in music or world languages is because they are placed into reading and math improvement classes, which, sadly, have not made much difference in achievement and sometimes even alienate the students enrolled in them more even more from school. Because many of these students cannot afford after school sports leagues, they are not able to opt out of PE. Since PE and Health are mandatory, this means they do not get the opportunity to take classes in the arts, tech, or world languages. Also, often gen ed students who are able to take world languages do not have as strong of a grasp on English grammar which puts them at a disadvantage for learning new languages (as they have traditionally been taught) and many world language teachers do not have extensive training in differentiation. This results in many gen ed students quickly become frustrated in language classes and dropping out after a semester or at the end of their first year. I wish HCC parents would consider the needs of the school community as a whole. Yes, the system is messed up. It’s unfair to have to make sacrifices, but the big problems stem from politics and funding systems at the macro- level which can take years to turn around. Why not enroll your kids in language programs after school instead of select sports leagues and let them take PE in school which is the one class in which they actually have an opportunity to mix with kids who aren’t in HCC?

- A Community Member

Anonymous said...

The new WMS principal drops a bombshell email like this, does not introduce herself as the new WMS principal in the VM left and my kids school schedule is still not complete. My kids are playing cards in class as of yesterday, 9/10/18.

Anonymous said...

SPS needs to decide what constitutes the baseline offerings for all students (for example, minimum 1 year of HS level WL in MS + 2 continuous years in HS) and make an effort to provide a continuum from MS to HS. What we have now are schools operating in silos, with little assurance of continuity from year to year.

Don't music classes help school budgets in that on average one teacher has a higher load of students - you can have well over 32 in a band, choir, or orchestra class. It's my understanding they aren't bound by the same class size limits. PE and art classes are limited by the size of facilities. One gym can only serve so many students. Some schools limit PE to one semester because they don't have the space to schedule year round PE.

another 2cents

E. Eagle said...

The new principal admits that the LAP and levy funding the school has received to support students performing below grade level has not been used for that purpose!!!! So, who's to say title 1 money would be either?

It's pretty questionable of the district to tell HCC middle schoolers from all over the SE quadrant to ride buses all the way to Washington M.S. for their basic education and then when they get there to say, "psych!" Surely SPS is not putting all these kids on buses and sending them all the way to Washington for them to play cards and take PE?

According to this list, here are the world language offerings for Seattle's other middle schools:
Hamilton- Japanese, Spanish
Eaglestaff- French, Japanese, Spanish
Whitman- French, Spanish
Eckstein- French, Japanese, Spanish
Jane Addams- French, Spanish
McClure- Spanish
Meany- French, Japanese, Spanish
Mercer- Chinese, Spanish
Aki Kurose- Spanish
Madison- French, Spanish
Denny- Chinese, Spanish
https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/International%20Education/WorldLanguages/SPS_Regional_World_Language_Offerings_Spring2018.pdf

Sports-4-All! said...

You don't need to pay for an after school sports league to get a PE waiver. Washington's web page says the school offers:
Fall: Co-ed Ultimate Frisbee, Girls Soccer
Winter: Boys Basketball, Girls Basketball
Spring: Co-ed Track, Boys Soccer, Girls Volleyball

Probably doing any one of those would be enough to get a PE waiver if a student wanted to take a different elective besides PE during the school day. At no charge. Right?

Anonymous said...

@ Community Member,

You make a lot of assumptions about HCC family income and resources, as well as assumptions about the free time activities of HCC students (try long bus rides, for one).

I don't think the heart of the problem is that HCC students are all waiving PE. Taking PE in lieu of organized sports isn't likely to provide a lot of benefit to anyone--nor is it likely to provide a lot of exercise to those taking it, or a promote a love of sport, or teach collaboration, etc. Have you ever been in a middle school PE class?

My own HCC student doesn't have time for afterschool language classes due to occupational therapy sessions. Surprise!

Why send HCC students to a school that won't/can't serve them? f

Crazytown2

Anonymous said...


this is is all dribble, error ridden and unconcerned about the whole community ... just those that are behind.

"One reason why many gen ed students do not enroll in music or world languages is because they are placed into reading and math improvement classes, which, sadly, have not made much difference in achievement and sometimes even alienate the students enrolled in them more even more from school. Because many of these students cannot afford after school sports leagues, they are not able to opt out of PE. Since PE and Health are mandatory, this means they do not get the opportunity to take classes in the arts, tech, or world languages. Also, often gen ed students who are able to take world languages do not have as strong of a grasp on English grammar which puts them at a disadvantage for learning new languages (as they have traditionally been taught) and many world language teachers do not have extensive training in differentiation. This results in many gen ed students quickly become frustrated in language classes and dropping out after a semester or at the end of their first year. I wish HCC parents would consider the needs of the school community as a whole. Yes, the system is messed up. It’s unfair to have to make sacrifices, but the big problems stem from politics and funding systems at the macro- level which can take years to turn around. Why not enroll your kids in language programs after school instead of select sports leagues and let them take PE in school which is the one class in which they actually have an opportunity to mix with kids who aren’t in HCC? "

after school sports are free for those in need.
you don't need a waiver to take a wl just if you are doing music and wl.
select sports clubs are just that. most waivers come from rec or school activity.
select was obviously added to defame the hcc.
you have misled enough to understand your dog in the hunt and probably who you are.
you want to get rid of the hcc because ... well you do. and equity seems like the easiest way to do that.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Another change that appears to have been made (albeit not yet announced) - HCC LA and Social Studies have been eliminated at WMS in favor of "honors", which I suspect is similar to changes made at GHS (Honors for All) and TM a couple of years back.

I say "appears" as there has been no announcement to parents, the HON designation just appeared on our student's schedules (which, by the way, when posted on the Source prior to school starting still had LA and Soc Studies designated as HCC) - and kids were told today by their respective LA/SS teachers, when the schedules were finally/mostly done.

If this is true, she is making some very big changes without any community engagement - and without any communication to families - which is very disappointing.

-WMS parent

Anonymous said...


i'm down with crazy town.

no caps

Anonymous said...

Please let the education reporter at the Seattle Times know about EBG at WMS. Her email is dbazzaz@seattletimes.com. I already have.

J. Lardizabal said...

"In light of the recent changes regarding certain courses being offered/ not offered at WMS, the last minute schedule revisions, and all the questions/ concerns that ensued, the PTSA would like to provide parents with an opportunity to ask questions directly to our Principal Emily Butler Ginolfi: Monday, September 17, 7pm at WMS, the PTSA is inviting all WMS parents to this “Q&A with the Principal”. More detailed invite to follow in the next few days via different formats (email/ hard copy/robocall)."

I'll bring the popcorn.

Anonymous said...

what no thought exchange? how best to divide people? put them in desperate situations and then ask them to calmly express those concerns in front of hundreds of others against the powers that be. well played michael tolley. meanwhile a week in and no finalized schedule.

no caps

Anonymous said...

"Please let the education reporter at the Seattle Times know about EBG at WMS. Her email is dbazzaz@seattletimes.com. I already have."

anon you should know you have to sign your post. strange. stranger than that is you would direct those that are concerned about this debacle should look to the seattle times as they have only one outdated perspective which includes charters.

what the times should have reported on was the gerrymandering of leschi and mount baker to meany. meaning those students would have to be bussed past a much closer school that they could have walked to. instead sps chose to kill wms with a smaller gen ed / higher frl population kids. well played michael tolley. just like mgj.

now those chickens are coming to roost

no caps

Anonymous said...

Hey Michael Tolley, Associate Supt for Teaching and Learning: Is this what effective teaching and learning look like in Seattle Public Schools?

Hey Supt Juneau: Does this work for you? (If not, why does Michael Tolley still work for you?)

Please explain

Anonymous said...

hey director dewolf is this what you think of when you say 90% white? do you think it is fair to take away classes from the hcc because ge is not adopting those classes at the same rate?

what about you dir. mack, patu, geary, harris, burke and pinkham? do you think 1 year and 1 language is good enough when other middle schools that don't serve the hcc have multiple years and languages?

no caps

Anonymous said...

@Richard, Thornton Creek had a fantastic assistant principal who treasured the kids and school community. Instead, SPS hired Jon Gasbar - someone with significantly less experience. Not cool and quite frankly an example of sexism.
- SPS No
-

Anonymous said...

crazytown2 --

I am not making a lot of assumptions about HCC students' economic status as a whole or the underrepresentation of black students in HCC, and please note I was referring to MOST HCC students. There are always exceptions in any group.HCC has a higher percentage of affluent students that the general education population. I could not find any data tables that specifically break down the district's different programs by F/R Lunch this evening- but there are data tables on the district's website for advanced learning eligibility by race/ethnicity and for students receiving F/R lunch by race/ethnicity from 2016. In 2016 84% of black students received F/R Lunch, while only 10% of white students received F/R Lunch. In 2016, the district was about 15% black, but only 2% of black students were eligible for advanced learning. The district was about 50% white and 24% of white students were eligible for AL. I am sure you have seen similar reports before.
Access to after school sports is not just about the cost. School sports teams often must cut students after tryouts because they do not have the resources to coach every student who is interested in the sport. There is no prohibition against students who play for Select teams playing on school teams, and, so teams can end up being filled with students who are already getting plenty of opportunity to play. In addition, a lot of students from low SES have family obligations that prevent them from participating in school sports and other programs ( often babysitting younger siblings) and lack transportation needed to get to Saturday games.

What do you mean by HCC programs should not be placed at schools that cannot serve them? There is nothing in the district's description of their HCC program that guarantees HCC students will have access to world languages or a rich assortment of music options. Of course, it would be great if all students could have access to such things, but the district is not obligated to serve HCC students in these ways. The HCC program is specific to LA, Math, SS, and Science only. (See the district's website's description of HCC) At any rate, where would you suggest the HCC program at WMS go? Do you want it to have its own school? That I think would be an absolute form of segregation. You would also still have the problem that small schools cannot support robust music and language programs. Move to Eckstein? That would create a host of transportation problems worse than the ones already at WMS. Move the HCC to Mercer or Denny and I think you would end up with the same challenges that WMS already faces. There are no easy solutions.

You make the assumption that I want HCC eliminated. I do not. I do have doubts about the process by which students are admitted to HCC programs. And I would like to see programs that require accelerated students to meet performance expectations. In the middle school I attended, students could enroll in accelerated classes if they qualified as gifted OR if they had demonstrated excellent scholarship (good grades, good state assessment scores), and ALL students in the accelerated programs were expected to maintain good grades in those programs. They were expected to put in a lot of effort, have good attendance, and keep up with the pace of the classes, and if they didn't after a year, they were often switched into less accelerated classes. Not all kids with high IQs benefit from accelerated learning, and some kids who do not test well on IQ tests are able to handle accelerated classes. They should be given a chance to prove themselves. Also, students at my middle school had the option to follow accelerated pathways in LA and not in math - something this district does not allow. In SPS middle schools, kids can place into advanced math even if they are not advanced in LA, but if they don't do well in BOTH math and LA assessments, they can't take advanced LA. That policy needs to change.

A Community Member

Anonymous said...

The situation at WMS is getting worse and worse. As communicated in the letter from the principal, 7th grade foreign language has been eliminated entirely, 8th graders who had French or Japanese last year will have no language this year, and music classes have been reconfigured. And now it seems like the principal has also entirely eliminated HCC classes. We're suddenly hearing from the kids that LA, Social Studies and Science are now blended. (Previously these were the only self-contained HCC classes; Math and electives were already blended at WMS.) But I can't say for sure what's going on, because there has been zero communication about it, including to staff. Apparently the principal is also considering eliminating Algebra 2, leaving a group of 8th graders with no math class this year. Oh, and schedules are still messed up and the kids might get their 5th new schedule tomorrow.

Am I correct that District policy says K-8 HCC is self-contained, and a principal would need a waiver from the District to deviate from that? I know that was the case a few years ago when Thurgood Marshall got a waiver. Is there some difference in what is required at the elementary level vs. the middle school level?

Completely Aghast

Anonymous said...

you are correct. if blended they are not following superintendents rules as submitted to the state. if that is the case then stephen martin should truly be running over there and resolving this issue.


"School sports teams often must cut students after tryouts." but not at washington. you repeatedly make stuff up to get rid of hcc. hum, who does that sound like? just on the top of my tongue.

as for giving a chance to prove themselves that happens every fall by applying to the HCC.

no there isn't anything that says ms hcc students need to have wl. but to cut wl because too many hc kids wanted those classes is asinine. and the altf3 should certainly recommend a minimum number and type of electives too.

no caps

E. Eagle said...

So Black and Hispanic middle school students who live in the zones for Hamilton, Eaglestaff, Whitman, Eckstein, Jane Addams, McClure, Meany, Mercer, Aki Kurose, Madison, Denny, Hazel Wolf, and the Center School can study Spanish if they want to, but the 13 Black and 9 Hispanic students at Washington who wanted to can't because of equity?

Anonymous said...

Issues around single subject access are good topics for the AL task force. Having clear policies around middle school course offerings and pre-reqs *that are consistent among schools* and *clearly communicated in advance* seems to be what's missing.

What we have now is schools making program decisions based on scheduling challenges, convenience, and personal ideology, not SPS policy. SPS needs to get their @#$% together and have a real plan for serving students. WMS just needs intervention. NOW.

Apparently the principal is also considering eliminating Algebra 2, leaving a group of 8th graders with no math class this year.

Just wrong. Also, RESMS is supposedly not enrolling 6th graders in Algebra 1.

intervention needed

Anonymous said...

@A community member- HC kids are no more affluent than any other kid from their neighborhood demographic.

You said" The district was about 50% white and 24% of white students were eligible for AL. I am sure you have seen similar reports before." Did you also know the Eastside has an overrepresentation of Asian kids qualifying for their advanced learning and whites are underrepresented? One large caveat to your statistic, we have a much larger white population in Seattle than who is enrolled in Seattle Public Schools overall, and any statistics need to also look at the intersection of private school enrollment.
It seems IMO that if a kid qualifies for HC the parents keep them in the public schools. Perhaps because many private schools do not have a program for them. You need to take this into account as it skews the stats.
However, I and probably most on this blog agree that low income students of all races are likely very underrepresented in advanced learning programs. I also agree that all kids should be able to access single subject honors in middle.
However, I don't like the blending of honors & non-honors in one classroom, as I don't feel teachers with the typical large classes in SPS can teach as well in that environment. Honors becomes extra worksheets and the teacher naturally spends more time with the kids who are non-honors who are lagging in the classroom.


KL

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have gone to several all-school meetings over the last couple of years. Two were about principal effectiveness and one was about Sped services. At one, multiple senior staff were there and at the other two, it was just the executive director which was, coincidentally, Sarah Pritchett, who oversees Washington Middle School.

I have to say that I didn't leave any meeting thinking that the parents who went and expressed their concerns left feeling that much better.

I will be interested to see what exactly the meeting next week at WMS will look like and who in senior management, if any, shows up. At the very least, Stephen Martin should be there to explain the HCC end of it.

Lastly, I either read the minutes of or go to the Curriculum&Instruction Board ctm meetings. I have seen nothing about a waiver for blended HCC at WMS. There certainly was for Thurgood Marshall so I have to wonder about any changes like that for WMS.

Anonymous said...

@Community Member,

I was referring to things like your reference to select sports, so yes, that was a big assumption. To insinuate that HCC students are the "select" crowd is based on your personal biases, and is likely unfounded. Many HCC students aren't interested in competitive team sports, preferring things like chess clubs, robotics teams, and math circles. Also, HC students often lag years behind in social skills, and many are highly sensitive, so the intense team experience may not be that appealing. (If you really need to attach and AL label to select sports in your mind, maybe consider "Spectrum"--still typically affluent families, and smart but less academically-oriented kids?) By the way, there are select sports leagues/regions in less affluent parts of town, too. Those are often some of the strongest teams, just like some of the high FRL public schools have some of Seattle's best athletes. But I guess now you've moved on from the idea that parents are buying their kids' way into HCC to the idea that parents are buying their kids' way into competitive sports?

No need to inform me that school sports teams often cut students--my nerdy HCC kid was usually one them. Others were more committed, and spent more of their time hanging out playing ball after school and during the summer so were far superior. HCC doesn't make you a great athlete. You implied that school teams are filled with HCC students who also play on select teams, but I haven't seen any data to back that up. You haven't either. (Your argument is confusing, regardless. On one hand you suggest HCC kids who also play select sports are hogging the school team spots, then on the other you say it's not fair because low-SES, family-obligated students don't have time for school sports.) FYI, transportation is an issue for all, so carpooling to games (and practices) is the norm. I've also seen school busses used for transporting some lower income teams to weekend games/tournaments in the past--I'm not sure if the district paid, but it was interesting nonetheless.

What I mean by my statement that "HCC programs should not be placed at schools that cannot serve them" is that, if the district defines their program like this...

HCC provides significantly accelerated curriculum in reading, math, science and social studies based on student need. Services include student progression through pathways to specific school sites with adequate cohorts of Highly Capable students. This model provides students peer learning and social/emotional opportunities, teachers with suitable experience and/or professional development on the academic and social/emotional needs, appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities and accelerated pacing. Once students begin HCC services, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student, from grades K-12. A self-contained cohort option is available in grades 1-8.

...

Crazytown2

Anonymous said...


...then if a school can't or won't provide the self-contained classes at the appropriate level as they are supposed to, then they shouldn't be an HCC pathway site and students shouldn't be bussed there for promised services they don't receive. Apparently WMS has, on the down-low, disbanded HCC LA, SS, and Science classes in favor of a blended "honors" approach. That's not HCC. They also seem to be considering denying an appropriately advanced math curriculum to 8th graders whose next course in the math sequence is Algebra 2, even though they are required to provide a continuum of services to HCC students once they start HCC. Additionally, regardless of the level of support, one of the district's official high school HC services is IBX. To start IBX in 10th grade you need to take a 2nd year World Language class in 9th grade, which means AT LEAST a full year of WL in middle school. (It may even be more. In the recent past, 3 years of WL at Hamilton translated into 2 yrs of HS level language, with students starting HS at level 3. The idea was that 1 year of middle school WL was not equivalent to 1 year at the high school level.)

I'm also not suggesting the HCC program at WMS go anywhere, or anywhere specific. I'm saying that if the district is going to denote a school an HCC pathway, they need to provide the supports a school needs to (a) serve it's non-HCC population; and (b) provide the HCC population with services that align with the district's stated HC services.

As to performance expectation, is there any evidence that many HCC students aren't getting good grades or good state assessment scores? , Data I've seen indicate HCC average scores are the highest, then Spectrum, then GE. No surprise, and what's the problem? Are there maybe a small percentage of students who don't do as well? Perhaps, but we'd need more data to understand why and what that means re: acceleration. I DO agree with you on one point, that "not all kids with high IQs benefit from accelerated learning, and some kids who do not test well on IQ tests are able to handle accelerated classes."

Crazytown2

Puzzled Mom said...

I'm confused that she says "middle school is all about breadth and exposure" and then says she is getting rid of French, Japanese and beginning Spanish and most music offerings. Wouldn't breadth and exposure mean the opposite of what she's doing?

Sarahthetree said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

actually, I should say as it is the truth, we care about all kids. and no this is not fun! you are a saddist if you think it is.

no caps

Anonymous said...

SPS parents, HCC and/or otherwise, generally want all students to get the services they need. It's not an either-or type situation. We need to serve all. If one group is speaking up about not getting what they need, that does not imply they want their group to get served at the expense of others.

all types

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Anonymous said...

@ Community Member,

Your claims are largely ideologically based and not supported by evidence.

"HCC has a higher percentage of affluent students that the general education population"

While FRL qualification is an indicator of poverty, the converse is not an indicator of affluence. A family of four's maximum annual income is $46.4k to qualify for FRL. Following your logic, a school with low % FRL, but average annual income of $50k could be considered affluent. Considering that non-FRL for this example is $46.5k+, the income range is broad enough that attributing affluence is reckless at best considering your lack of access to the data to support this claim.

" I would like to see programs that require accelerated students to meet performance expectations."
Shouldn't we hold high expectations for all of our students, but not under the duress of removal? It's obvious your equity advocacy doesn't extend to inclusion of disability or difference otherwise you would be aware that ability and performance don't necessarily align in pretty, neat little rows.

Data

Melissa Westbrook said...

Wow.

One, do NOT take someone else's moniker. all caps is already being used. Find another name.

Two, no caps, this is not gossip central. Cease and desist from making comments about mental health, personal life, etc. about staff.

I think we'll end this discussion here for now.