Tuesday Open Thread

Via Soup for Teachers, a thought-provoking piece from NPR from a new book, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children, on raising bright kids.

We're training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts. And computers are always going to be better than human beings at that. But what they're not going to be better at is being social, navigating relationships, being citizens in a community. So we need to change the whole definition of what success in school, and out of school, means.
You present something you call the 21st-century report card. And it contains six C's, which I've seen versions of elsewhere: collaboration, communication, content, critical thinking, creative innovation and confidence. But what's new is the way you relate these skills to each other, and also, you've described what they look like at four levels of development.
A new book for kids caught my eye, My First Kafka: Runaways, Rodents, and Giant Bugs. 

Good editorial from the Islands' Sounder about how the Orcas Island Education Foundation has been shoring up schools on Orcas and other islands for years.
OIEF is committed to providing funding to the Orcas School District when the state has failed to do so.

Thanks to OIEF, our students' school experience is enriched with classes in such topics as guitar building, theater, debate and physics.

The foundation also oversees two very special programs: Arts for Orcas Kids, known as A-OK, and Farm to Cafeteria. A-Ok brings local artists into the classroom to bring visual arts to life, and Farm to Cafeteria allows students to maintain the 8,000-square-foot school garden. In addition, school meals are now entirely cooked from scratch and include local produce, fruits and meats.
There's a new parent group at Garfield, One Hundred Black Parents, that's out there but the only info I can find is a sign-up page.  Anyone know anything about this group?

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
I wonder if the 100 black parents is a different version of the 100 black men groups around the country.

Anonymous said…
Interesting NPR piece, but the authors are a little over the top, IMHO. "What we do with little kids today will matter in 20 years," she says. "If you don't get it right, you will have an unlivable environment. That's the crisis I see."

Unlivable environment? Crisis? I don't see how anything they discuss is that different than 20 yrs ago, and we're all still here... Should we help our kids learn to communicate effectively, collaborate, learn, be confident and creative, etc? Of course. But is that really so different? It may be more challenging, in some ways, to teach them some of those things than it was before, although you could probably also argue it's easier in some ways, too.

Common Sense (a 7th "C" to add to their list?)
Anonymous said…
"We're training kids to do what computers do, which is spit back facts."

Anyone who thinks this is what schools are doing is not visiting very many classrooms. I've seen many classrooms in action, and regurgitating "facts" is hardly the limit to the work I see kids doing.

In my own classroom, we're way more about researching or observing evidence, and using that to state a claim, model an understanding of something, or support/disprove a hypothesis.

-SPS teacher
Anonymous said…
Copied from the comment at the APP blog, this quote is from the teacher organizing the move to detrack 9th grade LA at Garfield, writing to the outgoing PTSA head:

"Garfield was the designated APP site for the district many years ago. Now every neighborhood school is providing AP courses for their neighborhood populations. To answer your question. Does Garfield need permission from Michael Tolley, School Board, or Sarah Pritchett to make Academia changes. The short answer to your question is NO."

How can one set of teachers/administrators dismantle an entire pathway like this? Combined with the language being used to describe HCC kids (white fragility and unconscious elitism/racism), how can HCC families send their kids to Garfield next year?

Well, that quote certainly says it all about SPS. Schools apparently do believe they can do anything they want academically.

This - plus the changes Thurgood Marshall wants to make - may be the opening salvo in a wider struggle.
Anonymous said…
These students are just going to go back to rhs and bhs, further segregating the district. HCC is an integrating tool at the high school level. Was.

Anonymous said…
The revelation by some staff at GHS of their animosity towards the APP/HCC cohort is just sad. For a few teachers (with the support of Ted Howard, clearly, or this would not be happening) to drive an academic change at the 9th grade level without announcement, at a time when it will be met with surprise and helplessness (summer), is just wrong. The PTSA is dismissed in a meeting to gain clarity. Whatever side of the fence you are on in regards to the merits of this program change, the end result of alienating a vital part of the GHS community is in the making. It's kind of like GHS' own Brexit.

I hate to hear about academic flight because of this change. I understand why it is alarming. But don't throw the baby out with the bath water. The cohort is strong and has amazing opportunities at GHS that can't be found anywhere else. The leadership possibilities in student government and beyond, music, both orchestra and jazz, sports (yes, many HCC kids are captains of sports teams at GHS too), the broadest offering of AP classes in SPS, and many teachers who love to teach the cohort. Until it is clear that the district really is mandating a one size fit all education for all kids regardless of ability, which is against the law I believe, fight to keep all that is good about GHS for your kids. The kids do love it, and are proud to be Bulldogs. Part of that pride is that they know how to interact with all kinds of people, not just those who are in the cohort or live north.

I understand the reaction to run far away from this mess. But it seems so off on so many levels that there must be a fix, a possible negotiation. Like the teachers that hold HCC kids in contempt should not teach them. Or maybe shouldn't teach at GHS. I think you have allies on the staff, sure of it. And does Ted Howard view the HCC kids with this contempt? The article pointed out that he has much more personal relationships with the black kids than the white kids. The kids at GHS will tell you this is true. I did not know it might cross the bridge into supporting a hostile faction of the staff. He did not communicate this change to anyone prior to summer, except the Seattle Times reporter. Interesting.

The cohort and their families have been a vital part of the Garfield fabric for a long time. Just like the UK is waffling over enacting Article 50 and starting the withdrawl process from the EU, negotiate to keep your stake at GHS. It's good for both GHS and the kids. Garfield would be a much different school without you. And many more would leave with you.

Old Bulldog

Anonymous said…
Sue Peters' responded to the Garfield teacher's facebook post critical of HCC:

[begin quote] For a teacher to harbor such hostility towards certain students is indeed alarming. As both a School Board director and parent of HCC children, I too find such prejudice against a group of students distasteful and deeply troubling.

It is never acceptable to mock, stereotype or insult any students or diminish their worth (“the fragile products of APP”), nor to make inflammatory accusations against parents or guardians (“obnoxious elitist unconscious racists,” “APP apparatheid”).

This is not the way to create a healthy culture of understanding within our schools and among our diverse student populations. Instead it perpetuates a culture of ‘us versus them’ that has been a fault line within SPS for many years and a trend I would like to see reversed. [End quote]

--Peters Fan
Anonymous said…
Why is GHS always stirring up trouble in the district?

Split time
Anonymous said…
Old Bulldog, you are talking to parents who have experienced a good number of changes and moves - many of them announced as a June surprise. The Garfield change is just one more in a long line of changes to AL. There is little reason to hope things will magically resolve. The teacher's words cannot be taken back. Who knows what kind of toxic environment that will create? Why step into it? The wide range of AP offerings will only exist with a large enough cohort of advanced students, many who have now been made to feel very unwelcome.
Anonymous said…
Here's the 15-16 list of special education citizen complaints with updated status:

· 15-60 district failed to provide the parent with progress reporting

· 15-61 told parent that an IEP team could amend an IEP only once.

· 15-62 complaint was withdrawn. District hired additional IA.

· 15-78 complaint was withdrawn. District hired additional IA.

· 16-28

· 16-31

· 16-40 *

· 16-41 *

· 16-46 *

· 16-47 complaint was withdrawn. District granted parents request.

· 16-49 *

· 16-55 *

· 16-56 *

· 16-57 *

* denotes decision pending

Sped Parent
Anonymous said…
As a parent of an incoming GHS ninth grader I welcome this move towards greater classroom integration and expanding opportunity for all. I am horrified that Director Peters refuses to acknowledge her privilege and that of her children who have a publicly financed education, exclusive of the social and cultural range of SPS demographics. Her very public support of segregation and this blog's support of it is distasteful and shameful. We can no longer continue to have social, ethnic and economic privilege masquerading as intellectual advancement as a basis on which to run schools. It's morally wrong and has grave consequences for society as a whole. Bravo to Principal Howard and all the other progressive principals who will no longer accept the status quo.

Anonymous said…
I keep hearing from AP parents how they must have their own group or cohort because of the many social stigmas around HCC students which effects their ability to integrate with the gen-ed students.

Is this the reason most AP students don't simply move up a grade or two? My child moved-up and it was the best thing we could have done for her.

It just seems best to move up a grade or two if that is where you perform academically. Doesn't it all level out in Collage?

Anonymous said…
Like the teachers that hold HCC kids in contempt should not teach them.

How, exactly, would you filter for that? The sentiment expressed by Garfield's teacher is not limited to one teacher at one school. She just expressed it openly.

Lynn said…

We don't skip a grade or two because:

We want them to have what most other students have - both appropriate instruction and healthy relationships with children their own age

We want them to have a full eighteen years of mental, physical and emotional development before they leave home for college

We know that skipping a year or two is a temporary fix - it adds a challenge but they do catch up and the pace with which they learn means the new grade level won't be a good fit for long.

No - it's doesn't all level out in college but it does get better. While the pace at which they learn remains faster than that of other students, the floor in the classroom is now higher.
Anonymous said…
J'accuse, what the heck are you talking about? Sue Peters was right to call out that teacher for expressing shocking disrespect for her students. The teacher's statements were not only inappropriate but unhelpful in making the idea of a blended class work, because to that teacher, the goal of the change is to punish kids who are different through no fault of their own, who have particular needs through no fault of their own. Sue never said she supports segregation and you are wrong and dishonest to suggest she does.

I must ask whether the goal here is to address the problems of students who are underachieving, or address inequality and injustice. Because all I see is a desire to punish kids and teach them a lesson. If your goal is social and racial justice, this is not how you go about it, and this is not how you will achieve it. Turning teachers and a school against a small group of diverse students is morally wrong and shame on all of you who are doing it.

Non-HCC Parent
Anonymous said…
@ Peter's Fan

Where did Sue Peters make that response? I find her response deeply disturbing and incendiary and completely off base. A teacher expressed her lived experience of "obnoxious elitist unconscious racists." If that is a true statement for her, she should certainly be able to express it without fear of attack or being forced out from her job, as some people on the various blogs have pledged to do. Disagree with people all you want, bu the vitriol expressed on this blog and the APP blog is truly appalling.

GHS is a segregated school and the 9th grade LA Honors serves as a gate keeping pathway that excludes students from upper level courses later on. Dismantling it is a good idea and will lead to more opportunities for many students. Advanced classes on all fronts still abound at GHS and students will still get an amazing education. - Capitol Hill Parent
"It's kind of like GHS' own Brexit."

Good one.

"I am horrified that Director Peters refuses to acknowledge her privilege and that of her children who have a publicly financed education, exclusive of the social and cultural range of SPS demographics."

If you take Director Peter's one statement on the GHS teacher comment as her whole view, you'd be wrong. Director Peter's is a culturally competent person. As well, HCC is not exclusive. Does it reflect the entire demographic of SPS? Not really but given that anyone can apply (and get free private testing on appeal if F/RL) and that the district has truly tried to get more students of color in the program, I'm not sure it's fair to lay this all on Peters.

And you are equating having a gifted program to not supporting all learners. That's not fair and, I believe that's an apples to oranges comparison.

Lastly, J'accuse, if you are going to make such a sweeping indictment about others, have the courage to sign your name. Because when Emile Zola first wrote that phrase to the president of France in 1898, he signed his name.

Anonymous said…
Capitol Hill parent said "GHS is a segregated school and the 9th grade LA Honors serves as a gate keeping pathway that excludes students from upper level courses later on."

How exactly was 9th grade LA Honors a "gate keeping pathway" when it was open to anyone reading/writing at grade level, and when Language Arts 10H says it has no prerequisites (meaning you don't have to have taken the honors level class in 9th grade) and when AP World History (10th grade) is also open to anyone whether they took honors or non-honors world history in 9th? Which upper level courses are students being excluded from?

There's a lot of talk of "tracks" and "gatekeeping" at Garfield, but it doesn't seem to based on reality. Social pressures, self-selection and other factors may be at play, but don't make it sound like the academic policies are the cause.

Anonymous said…
"HCC is an integrating tool at the high school level. Was." This may be one of the most ludicrous statements I've ever read on this blog.

Anonymous said…
A front page story just landed in the New York Times about the many small ways NYC is trying to desegregate their schools. It strikes me that the Garfield situation is along these lines. If the main criticism of the varied NYT approaches seems to be "not enough/not fast enough" I have to think that SPS administrators, who have signaled that the outcomes of our lower income and minority student groups is of very high importance, will see Howard's idea favorably and look for more, not fewer, ways to raise the learning opportunities for our lower income kids.

Anonymous said…
Director Peters remarks speak for themselves. In addition I clearly heard what she said in her director's comments at the last board meeting in responce to the various principals' appeals to the district's need to implement policy through the lens of equity. She said there were other stakeholders (I'm paraphrasing) whom she would be considering and we all know whom she means. She seemed affronted to have to even consider equity and had no compunction in saying it was not her priority. Capitol Hill parent is correct that major gatekeeping has been going on and Director Peters has the entry code. In general the idea, heavily promoted here, that there is a bell curve of intelligence on which public school children are placed and which then conveys them to their life's destiny is abhorrent in a republic. This is simply historic social advantage, a caste system if you will, enshrined in a public institution. It is the something rotten in the state of Denmark. Where is Director Peters outrage over the children who have to go to school everyday and be told that they are not highly capable and that their classes are segregated in terms of class and color? Instead of calling for the head of a teacher who dares to call outrageous privilege what it is, she unloads the wrath of elected office on her. Director Peters needs to be censured. She has shown conduct unbecoming of an elected official.


Anonymous said…
On the other blog somebody is yelling at me that gen Ed, sped, and ell students are already in the many honors classes having the cohort there affords the school(and so I am wrong about something else). It's all opt in, and many non hcc students take advantage of what the economies of scale means with do many kids who need higher level classes. No, having, an hcc program at a school does not by itself undo the effects of poverty. But having so many high level classes provides a pathway for some students who want to work harder to achieve, especially students who can't enrich outside of class. We have to keep the high level classes for that to work, though. And we have to keep them for students who need a higher level of work to begin with. Most places would see this as win-win.
If we dismantle hcc at Garfield, it will become an impoverished school with very little opportunity, and rhs and bhs will become whiter, richer, and even more full of advanced classes. Having hcc at Garfield increases spreads the opportunity to another school. So yes I think it is integrating.
Anonymous said…
One missing piece in the puzzle of Garfield is where are all the high achieving African American students? Rainier Scholars does a great job of mentoring and teaching middle school students of color and helping with high school placement. Their college placement, listed on their website, is more impressive than some of the private schools in Seattle. Here is their high school placement for 2014-15 - notice anything missing?

Annie Wright School*
Bishop Blanchet High School
The Bush School
Deerfield Academy, MA*
Eastside Preparatory School
Explorer West Middle School
Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart
The Hill School, PA*
Holy Names High School
Lake Washington Girls' School
Lakeside School
The Northwest School
O'Dea High School
Oregon Episcopal School, OR*
The Overlake School
Philips Exeter Academy, NH*
Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences
Seattle Lutheran High School
Seattle Preparatory School
Shawnigan Lake School, BC*
St. Michael's University School, BC*
University Preparatory Academy
Villa Academy
Westside School

My kids' public K-8 had about 10 African American kids in each of their classes (out of 60), and not one of them continued on to public high school. All received scholarships to private schools in Seattle. One African American dad told me, who lived within blocks of Garfield, that he would never let his son go to Garfield.

The best and brightest among the African American community are cherry picked by private schools and Garfield is left with a sticky problem. African American high achieving peer mentors are few and far between at GHS. It's out of balance. If all the high achieving African Americans that lived near Garfield attended Garfield, or were HCC, the honors and AP classes would look different. But parents don't want their high achieving kids to be tempted by the being smart is not cool stigma, the peer pressure, which we know is huge in high school.

It would be great if this new program, honors for all, works at GHS. We just received a very positive letter from incoming PTSA chairs supporting the change. There is a segregation that would not exist if everyone went to public school, but that is not the case. I truly hope the teachers have a magic wand that will create engaged learners who will make the naysayers wrong. But it might take a magic wand.

Old Bulldog
mirmac1 said…
I disagree. This change enables many, including my well-educated and sophisticated immigrant parents, to push for more secondary HCC offerings available to families like ours. Thereby, we open doors to advanced learners from different backgrounds, more able to work towards the betterment of those who follow behind us. This is reality.
Anonymous said…
Given that the size of the African-American community in their historical CD environs is shrinking faster than a puddle in Texas, HCC can hardly be seen as an integration agent even if it probably did start at that building with that thought in mind. (And to fill the building when the flow of families was away, not to, the downtown core.) Today is a different scenario. Every high school is offering more AP classes or the IB program. It is very apparent the HCC "cohort" guarantee at Garfield had limited days, and that was before this Howard announcement.

Public school teachers by and large do not like the idea of tracking. (With an asterisk for special education.) It does not matter that there is an argument to be made that HCC isn't tracking. What matters is what the teachers and administrators think. And it appears they thought the freshman English course taken by most HCCers veered toward tracking. So Howard is doing something about it. If that causes HCC families to revert to their neighborhood schools it is unlikely staff will do anything beyond shrug. And yes, that is even with capacity issues in some areas of the city.

Further, class offerings and staffing are done at the end of the academic year as much as possible (minus the awful SPS surprise teacher rebalancing of the past few years.) If Garfield has decided all students are taking Honors English, even if philosophical arguments rage here, my supposition is the die is cast.


mirmac1 said…
Thank you EdVoter. Of course SpEd has never been envisioned as an "Alternative Track". SpEd is intended as a means to support students on a track to an appropriate "real" education. Somehow that got perverted into an alternative, lesser, track in our "state of the art" leading district. This, in spite of the best efforts of parents (of which I am proud to be a part of).
Anonymous said…
Could one of the proponents of this change at Garfield explain what makes this new class "honors" in the absence of an alternative? Are there going to be different requirements Imposed on those students who would not have self selected into honors previously? What are they?

Trying ToUnderstand
Anonymous said…
Mirmac I don't understand what secondary HCC offerings are. There are no first HCC offerings at GHS. There are no self contained HCC classes. There are just honors and AP classes, open to literally every GHS student (though I understand Mr. Howard has done a terrible job with SPED students there and has no plans to change). HCC kids often need them. But they don't all take honors classes, and definitely not every kid in honors classes is HCC.

I agree that GHS has capacity problems now, too, like almost every corner of the city. I am not sure dismantling the HCC pathway after open enrollment is a remotely fair way to deal with that.

Anonymous said…
Why not get rid of the grade requirements(which the school has complete control over)? Why not just make it 100% opt in, and have teachers aggressively recruit? I could easily get behind those changes.

Capital Hill Parent, I disagree. A teacher can have his or her opinions, even about a program, but the line is crossed when there is characterizations of parents and students. That teacher crossed the line and there should be a discussion about it with Principal Howard. I didn't advocate for anything else myself.

No, Peters said at the Board meeting that she could not, in good conscience, refuse to listen to ALL parents. Go back and listen again.

This blog is an open forum so be careful what you assign as being "promoted" here. I do not support a bell curve theory for educating students.

J'accuse, you are certainly on a high horse for someone who won't sign their name especially if you are calling for a censure for an elected official.

Old Bulldog, thank you for those details. Interesting.
Anonymous said…
Re Peters remarks at the board meeting, I went back and had a listen. Her words bear little resemblance to J'accuse's "paraphrasing" summary. So much so I took the time to transcribe. Here they are verbatim:


"I’m troubled by the message we got tonight from a few people that we should not listen to certain people who come to us, who come to the board, because they are maybe louder than others. I don’t think we as a board can embrace that message. We have to listen to everybody who comes to us, whether they’re loud or quiet.

Yes, we have to reach out to those who we are not hearing from a lot. But I have to say that in my three years on the board, there have been quite a few different communities who have come to us on many different issues, people from various walks of life and backgrounds who’ve been passionate, who come to us. I will not ignore any of them.

It worries me when we get into a situation where we seem to be playing a zero-sum game, where we’re pitting groups against each other. And naive as it may seem, I want to embrace all of our children, all of our 53,000 students and meet the needs of all of them. I recognize it requires priorities, but I will not dismiss the concerns of any of our groups.

It is my hope and my goal that we address issues of equity and fairness with an eye to all of the students in need, and that we don’t forget any of our students."


Clearly J'accuse has an ax to grind and it has nothing to do with equity or truthfulness or real dialogue. Making stuff up doesn't advance a point of view, it just comes off as a meaningless rant.

--GHS Parent
Lynn said…
Here is the PTSA email:

Dear Garfield Families,

Members of the PTSA met with Principal Howard and Language Arts/Social Studies (LA/SS) teachers last week to learn more about the proposed changes to the 9th grade LA/SS curriculum. We requested the meeting after The Seattle Times published an article about Ted Howard and Garfield that discussed the school's race and equity challenges. The article indicated that 9th grade LA/SS Honors was going to be cut.

Principal Howard and the teachers clarified that The Times story mischaracterized the LA/SS Honors change. In fact, the school plans to offer Honors curriculum to all 9th graders. There will no longer be two curricula tracks for LA/SS - regular and honors. Now, all students will take the LA/SS Honors curriculum and be held to the same standard: Honors for All. The PTSA, the school and the teachers feel this is an important change to demonstrate to a greater number of Garfield students that they can enroll, and take on the rigor of more challenging courses, and succeed in that environment.

The teaching staff are 100% committed to Honors for All and to its success. All of the teachers are certified and trained to teach Honors and to teach a wide range of learning styles. They voted unanimously to make this change and to supporting each other as a team.

The teachers explained they help initiate the change because it would hold all students to a similar standard and it will be a rich learning environment. Classroom discussions will be enriched with the new classroom composition and the teachers will introduce project-based learning, a nationally recognized teaching tool. It will enhance learning for all as students will have the opportunity for individualized learning and peer learning opportunities will grow.

The teachers acknowledged the challenges they will face and shared how they were preparing for them. It is a challenge to teach Honors to a broad spectrum of students. The LA/SS teaching teams have been preparing for several years: enrolling in courses to teach differentiated learning; researching the newest teaching methods; studying high schools that have already made this change. Principal Howard also announced a new reading class for students to improve their reading skills.

Principal Howard and the district are committed to supporting this change, and the PTSA will work with the school and the district to ensure its success. The PTSA is requesting that the teachers share their implementation plan for this change and communicate the plan to the community, and it will also request quarterly check-ins to learn how it is going and to identify where we can best support the students, teachers and classrooms.

In the short term, the PTSA has shared parent questions with the teachers, and next week the teachers plan to address the questions and share their implementation plan for LA/SS Honors for All. The PTSA will continue to invite feedback and update the community. We are committed to partnering with the school - One Garfield! - to deliver an excellent education to the entire student body.

Garfield HS PTSA Executive Board
Sally Hulsman and Barbara Kelley
sally_hulsman@yahoo.com 206.992.0924
bjkelley62@hotmail.com 206.349.1697
My only question is why did it take an article in the Times for parents to know this? After school let out?
Anonymous said…
In the context of the remarks and appeals made by the dedicated principals in relationship to the district's commitment to equity and the fact that some (perhaps on the board, as why else would the principals feel the need for public testimony there) were wavering in their support, Director Peters chose to make a strongly coded statement, conveniently wrapped in the language of inclusion (all) that she would be looking out for all groups, which I take to mean HCC as it is that privilege and its supporters here, monied and well-connected that remains the principals' greatest obstacle to desegregated inclusive schooling. Make no mistake, Director Peters was sending a shot across the bow to those principals that she could not be appealed to on the grounds of equity and inclusion and that she would use her bully pulpit to paint them as divisive merchants bent on creating division between ostensibly equal and competing needs. It is the same strategy used by many posters on here who say they or their progeny are being attacked when any proposal for creating more equal opportunity is raised. Make no mistake, no one has anything against you or your lovely children, it is your politics and their effects on others with which we take issue.

Or, Peters, like any other elected official, made it clear that her job is to listen to and represent all voices, loud/quiet/whatever. She didn't have to wrap her language up in anything - she did the smart thing that any elected official would have.

If you believe everyone in HCC is "monied and well-connected," well, that's your right to have an opinion. I just know there's a wider group of parents in the program than most people think.

What I hear J'accuse saying is this new equity banner whereby if you wave it, everyone else is wrong, racist, or worse. Equity is important but as I said elsewhere, there are many roads to get there. No one group - not even principals - have all the answers nor should they have all the power.

And again, even sarcasm used against children is unseemingly.

And that last item "it is your politics" shows just how very much some people WANT to make this about politics and not public education which is truly what this blog is about - public education.
Anonymous said…
Equity is more than important, it's essential.

It seems anytime the district tries to make progress in this direction you deflect to the many roads argument. When is there going to be a road that you think is right? This dialogue has been going on for years. It is time for change. The principals know the challenges of their schools. Many of them have years of experience. They haven't jumped ship. Sure they don't have all the answers but they do know that the one simple solution is to detract. Why are you so opposed? Richer more evenly balanced classes will be a benefit to all. Why fight that?

Anonymous said…
Because we don't believe it will be a benefit to all. We believe it will harm most and benefit no one. They will be more evenly balanced classes. They will not be richer. They will be appropriate for fewer children.

Anonymous said…
To be clear I would be ALL FOR getting rid of the gatekeeping. Make honors classes only opt in. Just opt in. Anyone who wants. But if it's not for you, you don't have to do it; maybe next year. Have the teachers get better at identifying kids who should take on the challenge. But let the kids who want to challenge themselves do so.

mirmac1 said…
The only director who has made a concerted effort to represent SpEd students districtwide, is Leslie Harris.
Anonymous said…
Harris kicks ass !

Go Leslie
Anonymous said…
J'accuse is making horrific and indefensible attacks not just on Sue Peters, but on every HCC child and parent in the district. This person believes that it is inherently racist to even identify as HCC. I am willing to bet that J'accuse spent their high school years bullying autistic kids. I would love to see defenders of the Garfield proposal to end Honors classes come here and call out J'accuse, but their silence speaks volumes.

By the way, this: "and the teachers will introduce project-based learning, a nationally recognized teaching tool."

Seems really important and needing further discussion. Seems like a further massive change that will primarily hurt underachieving kids - you know, the same kids whose needs have been totally ignored in this mad rush to punish HCC kids for the crime of being different.

Non-HCC Parent
Lynn said…
It's going to hurt everyone if they rely on group projects and those groups are heterogenous.

How will students get the training in academic writing and literary analysis they need by doing projects?
Anonymous said…
The AMA strongly discourages doctors from treating their own families because it leads to loss of objectivity and lack of judgment. Similarly, judges must recuse themselves when there is a prior personal role in a case.

Sue Peters clearly is a dedicated school board member. However, she made a serious ethics breach by conflating her roles as parent and director by publicly rebuking a district teacher. Personnel matters are routinely closed door at school board meetings in order to preserve the rights and due process of employees. This matter should be addressed promptly by an district review of her behavior since it fueled a witch hunt as a result of an abuse of her position as an elected position. The quoting of Peters' email on this thread confirms the severity of attack on this employee's basic rights by an elected board member.

Similarly, it calls into question Peters' ability to address equity issues in the district without implicit bias. I concur fully with J'Accuse's appraisal.

Anonymous said…
The employee spoke publicly on a forum of over 3000 people. There's no ethical problem with Sue Peters responding on the same forum. Like we wouldn't have a problem with an oped by a teacher and a reply by a board member. The teacher lost her expectation of privacy when she posted on a public forum.

Charlie Mas said…
Isn't it funny when a person writes something and someone else jumps up and claims that the writing was all in code and actually means the exact opposite of what was actually written?

The words are the words provided by the speaker. The interpretation - especially the interpretation that the words actually mean the opposite of what they mean at face value - comes from the listener. In this case I think I'll trust that the speaker means what she said instead of what the listener claims she meant. I think the speaker is a better authority on what she means than the listener.
Anonymous said…
The teacher in question showed explicit bias against her own students. I notice Sue's critics have not mentioned that inconvenient truth. Do you all think it is acceptable for a teacher to be biased like that?

Charlie Mas said…
Help me out with this:

Here is what Sue Peters wrote. Tell which part of it is objectionable.

"For a teacher to harbor such hostility towards certain students is indeed alarming."
Anyone want to disagree with that? Is it not alarming for a teacher to be hostile to a group of students or is that okay?

" As both a School Board director and parent of HCC children, I too find such prejudice against a group of students distasteful and deeply troubling."
Anyone not find prejudice distasteful and troubling or are there some here in favor of prejudice?

"It is never acceptable to mock, stereotype or insult any students or diminish their worth ('the fragile products of APP'), nor to make inflammatory accusations against parents or guardians ('obnoxious elitist unconscious racists,' 'APP apparatheid')."
Who will stand up for teachers mocking, stereotyping, or insulting students? Who will support inflammatory accusations against parents and guardians? Who thinks that's okay for teachers to do?

"This is not the way to create a healthy culture of understanding within our schools and among our diverse student populations."
Anyone want to disagree with that? Anyone want to promote mocking vitriol as the path to a healthy culture of understanding?

"Instead it perpetuates a culture of ‘us versus them’ that has been a fault line within SPS for many years and a trend I would like to see reversed."
Who here wants to continue the "us versus them" practice?

Oh, right. J'accuse isn't alarmed when a teacher is hostile towards a group of students. J'accuse is totally okay with prejudice (so long as it is pointed in the right direction). J'accuse will stand up for teachers mocking, stereotyping, and insulting students and inflammatory accusations against parents and guardians. And J'accuse wants to perpetuate the "us versus them" tribalism. I guess I have my answer. I would have thought those were rhetorical questions, but I guess they aren't.
Charlie Mas said…
And just how does Sue Peters' comment constitute a rebuke against a teacher or a personnel issue when the teacher was not identified and Ms Peters is not her supervisor in any way. The employee's rights were not the least bit curtailed, not by the District and not by Director Peters.

Catching crap for writing horrible things is not a violation of First Amendment rights; it's a natural consequence. The First Amendment doesn't guarantee anyone freedom from disagreement.
Peters didn't name the teacher or the school so I don't see it as interference. She doesn't say anything about talking to the Superintendent or the principal.

On the other hand, I did write to the Board about this issue (and the overall issue of Garfield re: the Times article.) I did name the teacher because she posted as herself at Facebook (and, despite repeated attempts at two different contact points, she hasn't answered me back.)

I agree with Charlie; post something fairly inflammatory with your name in a public place, work for a public entity and not expect it to come back to you? Hard to believe but that's probably why she then took it down. Luckily, there's a thing called a screenshot.

Woke, a couple of people did address the teacher's statement, saying they saw nothing wrong in what she said. It takes every kind of people.

Anonymous said…
MW, the comment is actually still there. You just have to expand the thread, as it has several replies now. It's under the comment by RC.

I've spent the morning reading about institutional racism in education and gifted programs. I have NOT seen the placement of high school students that run the entire gamut of achievement levels in one level of a class proposed as any kind of solution.

Where was the outrage when there was no money for talent development of underrepresented students after the universal screening? That is almost universally where long-term solutions are focused -- on universal testing and opt-in for low SES/underrepresented minorities. As sleeper proposes, I think the majority of us would support 100% opt-in with no requirements for honors classes.

Project-based group learning, unless students are grouped by achievement, which I'll take a wild guess is not their plan, will be academically appropriate instruction for exactly nobody.

Also, from the letter from the PTA Board:

"The teaching staff are 100% committed to Honors for All and to its success."

I have virtually never - in all my years in Seattle public education - ever heard of 100% of teaching staff agreeing on one thing and certainly not on one academic thing. I'd like to see that vote. (I'm assuming here because they didn't say "100% of the LA teaching staff" that they mean the entire GHS teaching corps.)
z said…
You're right, it's never 100%. I think we know the comment referred to only LA teachers. But can you imagine the pressure to conform if you were a teacher who didn't fully agree with the move?

Right now there are ThM parents who are afraid to speak against their proposed plan because of appearances. It's a type of implicit "social bullying" to conform, which isn't all that different from some of the behaviors we're hoping to eliminate in our schools and city, but they persist.
Lynn said…

I've asked the PTSA to forward that question to the staff for clarification. I expect it was 100% agreement from the staff teaching these particular students. I know a few teachers there who'd think this was a ridiculous idea.

I don't know why these employees at TM and Garfield believe that their ideology trumps state law, board policy and the district's commitment to parent and community engagement but they must be brought back in line. Are they incapable of doing the jobs they were hired for, within those parameters?

I believe Stephan Blanford is behind this and hope the rest of the board doesn't let him get away with it.
Anonymous said…
Melissa Westbrook said...

Capital Hill Parent, I disagree. A teacher can have his or her opinions, even about a program, but the line is crossed when there is characterizations of parents and students. That teacher crossed the line and there should be a discussion about it with Principal Howard. I didn't advocate for anything else myself.

I say ...

It's not easy being at the mercy of the squeaky wheel crowd, consider that before you get your torches.

GHT, no one is getting torches. People are offended and concerned that this teacher was exceedingly blunt with those either in the HCC program or those who disagreed with this change.

I'm sure as an LA teacher she knows words have meaning.

Just as a reminder, we try to not "out" people on this blog. I'm sure we all know who some of those with monikers are but there's not much to be gained.

I would like to note that even know I know who the Garfield teacher is (as do others), no one has named that person. Thank you for that.
Po3 said…
Sorry, was just trying to point out that there is a commenter who linked your name to that blog post so you could remove it if you wanted.
Outsider said…
Somehow unnoticed in the fray is the total non-sequitur that forms the basis for eliminating HCC classes at Garfield: In order to offer an honors curriculum in general ed, we have to eliminate HCC. It does not follow.

What has ever stopped the teachers at Garfield from offering anything to their students? They could have installed an honors curriculum in general ed classes a long time ago, if that is what they wanted, or cared about. But that in itself seems not to interest them. If the current curriculum of general ed at Garfield reflects "instutitional racism", who are the perpetrators? It can't be anyone other than those very teachers, can it? Those teachers who are in 100% agreement to eliminate HCC are the only ones who could be behind the supposed institutional racism. No, none of it makes sense as stated.

I have no involvement in Garfield, and don't even know anyone in a SPS high school, so this is not an informed view. But as a far-away observer trying to make sense of it, here is the only way it makes sense: "Honors for all" is a newspeak phrase that means "gen ed for all". The goal is not to increase opportunity for anyone (something they could have done a long time ago if they wanted.) The goal is to eliminate HCC, and cut back the education offered in SPS to "privileged" students. What am I missing?
Outsider, just as devil's advocate, I think it could be said that no, it's Honors for all, not Gen Ed for all. (As I mentioned previously, this experiment happened at Maple Elementary but the district did nothing to support it at the time.)

But you are right; there was nothing -apparently- stopping Ted Howard and his staff from enriching or making more rigorous the Gen Ed classrooms.

I noticed that someone said else said that HCC kids got to "escape" some unruly Gen Ed classrooms. I'm don't think anyone can say that HCC kids are better behaved than Gen Ed students but classroom control is the teacher's job so if Gen Ed classes are more unruly, that's for the teachers and the principal to fix.

Why has Mr. Howard and the teachers allowed Gen Ed classes to be less rigorous and more unruly? I don't know but again, it has very little to do with the HCC program.
Maureen said…
This is actually an excellent point. If the 9th grade LA/SS teachers had just decided to teach Honors courses to everyone, and made the default enrollment Honors then no one would mind.

Oh. Wait.
Anonymous said…
It's your blog Melissa, but it's still super annoying that you misrepresented what I said in the other thread and then shut down the comments. Where did I mention an ineffective principal? I know the principal was very, very busy. It seems that some classrooms and students were getting this principal's attention. But it was not equally distributed. And it's possible there were not enough hours in the day for her to put out all the fires. Has it not occurred to you that this might be common in schools that contain more than one community/program? We all know that Sped students don't get nearly enough attention in this school district; that's why there are so many lawsuits. There are not infinite amounts of time, resources and energy. Some kids might be getting more of it, and it may not look like it's more, but I ask you to consider that possibility instead of dismissing this as a case of an ineffective principal. I am sorry that your son didn't have as much fun as he could have. That's not what I was complaining about in my daughter's case. She spent a whole year hating school and begging to stay home every day. She was the flip side of your son's experience - a girl in a class of mostly boys who were a year older than her. She was placed there to balance gender not to serve her educational needs. And no one cared that the class was all boys with a handful of girls, so your guarantee does not hold. Finally I did NOT say that teachers do better with gifted students. I said STUDENTS do better when teachers are told they are gifted. If teachers are told that a kid has tested as bright they will assume the best. If they are told they have the "dumb class" they may assume the worst. A disruptive kid could be acting out for many reasons, but if a teacher has a "gifted" class they may try harder to engage and challenge that child, whereas someone on this blog presumed that the disruptive kids at Garfield who are not HCC are just delinquents. That assumption could add up to "getting more/getting less". I experienced this when my child, who has always been a good student and well liked by teachers, was summed up by her inexperienced and overwhelmed teacher as "very young for her age" when that has never been true at all. She is short for her age, and was feeling terrible every day in an out of control classroom but rather than assume competence on my child's part and look at how she might help her, the teacher blamed my child. I have to wonder if part of that attitude didn't come from the culture of the school and the teacher feeling she had an undesirable class. (PS when my child's test scores came out the teacher was amazed and told me something along the lines of "She's smarter than I thought she was") that's inexcusable!

Gen Ed Mom
Maureen said…
Gen Ed Mom, I really appreciate your perspective and your even tempered comments. I hope your daughter has landed at a school where she is happy and valued!
Gen Ed Mom, I thought you had an ineffective principal because you said this:

"..the principal didn't notice until I brought this to her attention around Christmas time because even though this was a brand new teacher with a very difficult split class, the principal was not able to visit her classroom to see what she was doing or how she was handling the difficult task she was assigned. Nor was the principal able to direct much energy to the problem even after I brought it to her attention. It meant standing outside the principal's office for 3 days and stalking her in order to get a chance to talk to her. The principal had "too many other fires to put out".

That you had to "stalk her" seems pretty drastic. Sorry I misunderstood.

As well, you seem to think that HCC kids are having a lot of fun in their classes while other kids in Gen Ed are not. That's what I meant in terms of "fun." I'm sorry your daughter had to have the same gender imbalance that my son did. No matter, I think it's wrong.

I'm sorry; I did misread your statement on teachers and gifted kids.

Lastly, could you please write in paragraphs? It's pretty hard to track what you say in one long paragraph.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, Hermano Tambien may have outed as a brown person in the other thread. But don't assume I'm not one myself or the people around me aren't either. I can only speak for myself and those around me. I don't speak as an authority for my race or ethnicity. We are too diverse and fragmented, While I don't find some of these proposed changes threatening or see it as an end to HCC, I can see why others might. My concern as always is with the implementation. I put my case out there and got called out for it and in my opinion harshly and unfairly. It's your blog and you and Charlie have strong beliefs, many of which I share and a few I disagree with.

I've been educating myself by checking out other local programs and grilling my friends and office mates. I find G&T programs and special ed challenging and many are poorly implemented for too many reasons to get into. It doesn't addressed the highly and profoundly gifted well or at all. If your child have a learning disability, it's even more hellish. It's probably impossible to find that ideal because standard K-12 education is highly sequential, heavily dependent on achievement testings and emphasize acceleration over enrichment so that many potentially bright and gifted kids are missed or are ill served and underserved. And because intelligence is fluid and comes in many forms which aren't well addressed in the widget making school system, I think the frustration and fear lead to such strong feelings. The same can be said of many other populations who just don't fit well on that conveyor belt too.

The weird thing as I read more about the ideal G&T curriculum or program, I can see how the same ideal is just as applicable to a gen ed classroom too. why? Because kids don't come in as one type of learners regardless of their academic designation. You have students who may have ADD/ADHD and can't jump through the hoops to make the cut, much less do well in regular classroom because of behavior problems but have very active and curious mind. You have different learning types, some of whom are asynchronous. Under these conditions, I think there has to be some ability grouping in certain subjects with flexibility to adjust for the strengths and weaknesses of students where possible. I think elementary SS can accommodate more blending and much of that success will depend on the teachers and the support of the community.

my 2cents
Anonymous said…
I'm a firm believer in the 80% rule, that most of us fall in that middle range of abilities. When you teach a normal population of kids, the demands on them and the material need to be aimed solidly in that range. That's often been the knock against the education system, that it only aims at the middle and doesn't handle outliers well of any type. My experience is that center of gravity of the class itself creates this phenomena. Go too fast or too complex to quickly and you leave the class behind and find yourself slowing down or spiraling to make sure the concept is understood by the majority. The opposite effect occurs if you go too slowly, complaints about boredom and disengagement rise you reach a point where visible improvement slows. Its not an accident that we teach what we teach when we teach it.
So I assume either the honors class were already not really different than their gen-ed counterparts or that all the classes will regress to the mean. The idea that given a large population you can do anything that will consistently lead to above-average results seems naive.


Anonymous said…
But you are right; there was nothing -apparently- stopping Ted Howard and his staff from enriching or making more rigorous the Gen Ed classrooms.
Yes there is! It would still have all those gen Ed students in it. That's what we're trying to avoid. It doesn't matter how good the class is, only who is in it. We signed up for a cohort.

Anonymous said…

That's 100 percent true about the principal. But I know there were people who did get to talk to her. I know there were classes where she did know what was going on. it really did seem like two schools.

And like I said, EVEN when I told her that the class had done no writing she pretty much told me there wasn't much she could do about it. She was busy. But she had demands on her time that didn't seem to have anything to do with my kid and her classmates.

Like I said, getting "more" can mean that you are in the group who gets your fires put out.

But it wasn't just the principal. It was the teachers too.

One day I stood in the hallway and watched my daughter's class stand outside their locked classroom for 10 minutes while every adult who walked by yelled at them to be quiet because other classes were trying to learn. What about their right to learn? What were they doing at school, locked out of the classroom? Why didn't any adult at that school care that they were wasting their time and not learning?

You seem to think my daughter had a bad year because it wasn't "fun". No.

She came home one day mid year and told me "this school is not for me." And she was right. She's a funny, happy, resilient kid who makes friends easily and loves school. All she needed was a setting where she could learn and connect with a few people. She spent most of the year reading the Percy Jackson series in class and she was given a pass to visit the nurse's office any time she needed a break from the classroom. She wasn't the only child in that class to get such a pass. That the principal was giving multiple passes to kids to escape a classroom that she had no time to visit - when she was in fact busy every day with "fires," says something.

It was also suggested by the school that we home school her. Not because there was anything out of the ordinary about her. She's an average student but the school couldn't meet her needs. I have to ask why.

You'll remember when I first brought this situation up on the blog, the school community reacted exactly as you did and exactly as the teacher in this situation did. Instead of being reflective about how this situation might have some valuable information that says something about the school culture, people attacked me and my daughter. They said the principal was doing the best she could. They said I should not have put my daughter in a new school because this kind of thing happens to new kids. They put 100 percent of the blame on a "bad teacher" just as you are putting 100 percent of the blame on the principal. Someone said maybe my daughter suffers from anxiety (no). They pointed out that I never volunteered at the school. They said this was just "one bad year". But actually, I talked to many parents and some of the kids in this group had more than one bad year.

Again, this situation was not about "fun". And the fact that you think that's it, speaks volumes.

Thanks Maureen. My daughter is doing great now. She really isn't a difficult or high maintenance kid at all. She's really happy at her school now.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said…
@ Gen Ed mom,

Thank you for sharing your experience. I am glad that your daughter is doing great now and I think she is lucky to have a mom like you. Melissa, I wish you had not shut down the TM thread as there were a lot of depthy and thoughtful comments there. -NP
Curious, you do realize how this sounds:
"Yes there is! It would still have all those gen Ed students in it. That's what we're trying to avoid."

Are you being sarcastic or did you really mean to say that?

Gen Ed Mom, I totally regret using the word "fun" as you are continuing to misread it. I make no assumptions about your child or anyone else's and their school year. I did not attack you. I made some comments based on your writing.

NP, the comments are there to read. I didn't delete the thread. But the comments were getting pretty circular and when that happens, the discussion is not as useful.

Anonymous said…
@ Gen Ed Mom, you make a lot of strong statements, assumptions and insinuations based on your own personal experience. Your opinions are based on your reality, which is fine. But I challenge you to consider that your reality is not necessarily how things always are...

...some classrooms and students were getting this principal's attention. But it was not equally distributed.
It rarely is. But that's not necessarily a function of AL vs. GE, even though you imply the lack of attention had to do with being GE. It could be poor principal management skills, a focus on needs you're not aware of, teacher-specific issues (as opposed to kid-specific issues, as you assume), etc. I seriously doubt that AL classrooms overall get an unfair share of principal attention--and I can give you lots of examples of inadequate principal attention being paid to AL classrooms, if you like.

You suggest that "fires" are more common in "schools that contain more than one community/program." I think you meant that to suggest that schools shouldn't have multiple programs. I don't know if you're suggesting that AL should be stand-alone instead, or if you're using that to suggest the programs to serve those students just shouldn't exist at all. But how many schools do we have that only contain a single community? I don't know of any. All schools have challenges to deal with--some just handle them better than others.

You said we all know that Sped students don't get nearly enough attention in this school district; that's why there are so many lawsuits. There are not infinite amounts of time, resources and energy. Some kids might be getting more of it, and it may not look like it's more...

Ok, how do you define "more"? As I understand it, provider:student ratios in SpEd are much higher, so SpEd students actually get more "attention." They need more attention, so better ratios make sense. They may not be getting the RIGHT attention, but that's a different matter. It's a useful example, though, in that it's not only the quantity of the attention that matters. I think you hint at this in your commentary on the impact of teacher attitudes, prejudices, and expectations re: their students, but you make it sound very unidirectional--that if teachers" are told they have the 'dumb class' they may assume the worst" and "if a teacher has a 'gifted' class they may try harder to engage and challenge that child." In reality, it goes both ways. The "gifted" label can just as easily result in students often getting "less." Many teachers and administrators have a very negative view of gifted children and highly capable programs, and have no qualms about expressing their dislike, disbelief, disinterest, etc. Students are seen as spoiled, fragile, socially incompetent, etc., and their parents are seen as obnoxious, elitist, racist, etc. Teachers often don't bother to understand the needs and abilities of these students, assuming they will just be fine. My own HC children's needs have rarely been met in the classroom (whether GE or HCC), and I have a hard time seeing that they've gotten something "more." A little different, perhaps, but not more. Your comment that getting "more" can mean that you are in the group who gets your fires put out is so puzzling to me. You seem to think gifted students are the group who regularly gets its fires put out, whereas in reality gifted students are the ones routinely UNDER FIRE. (And can you please not refer to students NOT in AL as "dumb," please? That's awful.)

NESeattleMom said…
Speaking of ratios, I walked past the new school being built at Licton Springs. near 90th and 91st between Aurora and N.Seattle College. The sidewalk is really bad--tree roots lifting up squares and broken concrete on some squares. Also, on the sign it says 150 students for the K - 8, and I think, around 500 students for the middle school. How do they make a K - 8 with only 150 students? Do they do multi grade class rooms? 150 students/ 9 grades j= 16.66 average.
Disgusted said…

The state recognizes the needs of advanced learners and provides funding for these students. I"m not sure why a particular individual feels the need to attack one of our best school board directors.

I watched the last school board meeting. Families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing were advocating for their children, as well. Our school board members must recognize the needs of ALL students.

It is unacceptable for a teacher(s) to show disdain for ANY group of students. This teacher should be dealt with.

I grew-up poor and have worked for decades to over-come generational poverty. I"m disgusted that J'accuse freely throws the word "privilege" around. He/she has no way of knowing an individual's life story or experience.

I'm taking Melissa's advice and will ignore the troll.

Anonymous said…

Yes, Licton Springs does have multigrade classrooms. K-2 actually have separate small classes, after that 3/4, 5/6 and 7/8 are combined classes.

Mom of 4
Anonymous said…
Does anyone have a link for current waitlists (not the Lookup Tool, but a school by school tally)? Have any moved since May 31?

Anonymous said…
You can find the link to the waitlist by school at the bottom of this page:


Anonymous said…
Hale's waitlist for grade 9 has decreased by about 6.

Charlie Mas said…
I am often surprised by the high level of agreement among people who seem to believe they are in disagreement.

my 2cents wrote: "I think elementary SS can accommodate more blending and much of that success will depend on the teachers and the support of the community."

See? Lots of agreement disguised as disagreement.

No one is saying that the proposed mixed social studies classes at Thurgood Marshall cannot succeed. They can succeed, but we don't all share the same definition of success.

For some, the very fact that the children sit together in the same classroom is a success. These folks have no measurable academic goals for the change. The only greater success they can envision would be to have the children grouped together all the time, again, without any concern for the academic outcomes.

Other people want to have the mixed classes - so long as the academic outcomes do not suffer as a result. And while the principals and the teachers can promise, promise, promise that the academics won't suffer, that's not enough. They have to show that the academics have not suffered by setting benchmarks and making assessments to determine if the benchmarks have been met.

It's the same with the "Honors for all" change for 9th grade ELA at Garfield. For some, it's all about getting the students into the same room together. For others it's about what they do in that room.

The problem isn't the mixing. The problem is that the folks who are making these decisions - the principals and staff at Thurgood Marshall and Garfield - aren't addressing themselves AT ALL to the legitimate concerns of those in the community who want to be assured that academic standards will be maintained. Instead of acknowledging the legitimacy of these concerns, they either discount them entirely or dismiss them with a wave and express their trust in the ability of their teachers to accomplish the task.

Well guess what? Not everyone is ready to trust the teachers that completely and these people want to see objective measures that document the fulfillment of the promises. That's not a problem, is it? Surely the people who blithely assure the community that academic outcomes will be improved rather than diminished should not only be willing to assess the effects of the change, they should WANT to assess the effects of the change. They should be begging to assess the effects of the change. Only they aren't. They are, in fact, refusing to assess the effects of the change.

So that's what we have. We have two groups which are each willing to embark on an experiment. One side wants assessments to measure the effect of the experiment and one side that refuses to allow any such assessment or allow any question about it.
NESeattleMom said…
My kid was in 9th grade Honors LA four years ago. I visited the class at the parent open house. It was a very diverse group, not just token diversity. It was a cross-section of Garfield.

2AP, AP is a college testing system to take classes in high school that might provide college credit. APP, now called HCC, is the cohort.

Anonymous said…
Sorry Charlie, there are three groups. Some aren't willing to embark on the experiment at all whether or not assessments are in place. Go back and read through the threads. That is a problem in my book. Agree with the rest of what you wrote.

Watchful parent
Anonymous said…
How many parents even know about the change at this point (which I understood was for both ELA and social studies)? It's only been a week since the discussion started and no formal communication has come from Garfield. It's the PTA that's putting out info, and the teachers, not the principal, seem to be driving the changes. I'd guess the sentiment ranges from supportive to neutral (or completely oblivious) to against, but the "against" has been strongly influenced by the teacher's Facebook comments. Given the sentiments expressed, perhaps parents that might otherwise have been supportive are now less likely to blindly support the change.

Anonymous said…
@ Watchful parent,

Well sure, why would simply having the assessments in place be enough to convince people who are hesitant? The "just trust us to do what we want, and we'll look at the data later to see if it worked" approach isn't a good one.

But the fact is, there's no evidence that an assessment process IS in place. A meaningful assessment and evaluation process would need to identify the outcomes of interest, as well as a sufficiently details plan for how those outcomes could be achieved. Simply saying "honors for all" isn't enough. Charlie spoke not only of assessment to see how things went, but also of setting benchmarks to ensure that academics don't suffer along the way. Implicit in that benchmarking process is an understanding of your intervention and its likely impacts (positive and negative).

So show me a fully developed assessment plan and THEN I can make a decision as to whether or not to get on board. If the intervention and goals and assessment process all sound reasonable, count me in. But a sound assessment process on a not-so-sound intervention? Nope.

NESeattleMom said…
I think most schools are on hiatus for July. I wouldn't expect communication to be forthcoming until August at the earliest, or the first week of school, or just by figuring it out through one's kid.
Anonymous said…

Yes, my opinions are all based on my experience at a school where those in the self contained program swore that none of the kids were getting anything more - just something different. Except that when I asked the principal how my kid ended up in the class she was in with the teacher she had (brand new, no teaching experience, hired the day before school started) she told me "well we had a lot of kids who had to be grouped together and then a lot of parents who had been given promises by a previous principal and then we had . . .(long pause) and I filled in "A bunch of leftovers?" She said she would never phrase it that way. But boy, it sure sounds like some kids' needs were given more consideration than other kids' needs. Doesn't it?

And it wasn't a problem with the students. It was absolutely a problem with the way the classes had been configured based on other kids' needs and the teacher who was not capable of teaching a class that would have been nearly impossible for a very experienced teacher.

I have no idea what other fires she had to put out. But this class got no writing instruction at all for over half a year and that didn't merit any promises to me that things would improve. I am not at all implying that schools with more than one program have more fires. I AM saying my kid's classroom was ON FIRE and no one came to put the fire out. Instead I was told to take her out of the burning classroom and teach her myself. But I know the principal was working on putting some other fires out. That's why she had no time to do more than offer my child a nurse's pass.

Have you ever heard of the Rosenthal Effect? Look it up. Children were picked at random and identified as gifted and at the end of the year those kids, who were no more gifted than their peers, had outperformed their peers.

Do you have a counter study that shows bias against those labeled gifted?

Your experience of being told your HCC kids will be fine is not unique to HCC kids! Guess what? My Gen Ed kids are going to be fine too! I have been told that any time I questioned anything. One of my kids lost a whole year of schooling. I asked for Summer School or at the very least grade level work to do at home with her over the Summer. "She'll be fine!" The Math is pretty weak and I'm afraid they won't be ready for High School "They'll be fine!" (I hope so, but I still got them a Math tutor). I could go on and on, but I have been told they will be fine because they have involved parents and we eat dinner together and we have books in our house (that's nice, I'd still like you to teach them Math!) So that may be less of an HCC curse and more of an overall Seattle Public School attitude toward parents who show any kind of concern.

So it may seem you are getting less. I's say you probably aren't. And in SPS you might not even know you're getting more until you see what getting less really is.

I know my kid is not dumb. But you know what? Her teacher at the school with the self contained program thought she was until her test scores came out mid year. How sad to be defined by test scores to such an extent and not be seen as a whole person! I can see that if a kid was defined by test scores year after year it could really wear her down and change her for the worse. Add in other biases and, wow, well, I can see how a school with two programs could really be destructive to certain kids.

Gen Ed Mom
Gen Ed, what school is this? I think you should talk to your Board director and Ex. Director.

And yes, test scores - defining kids by them - is increasingly a problem.
Anonymous said…
This is an old story Melissa. I did go to my executive director and got nowhere. I was able to get my child out of that school and into another school the following school year. My child is happy at her new school and the old school no longer has the self contained program.

I saw the downside of being in an overcrowded neighborhood school with a self contained advanced learning program first hand. The kids who were not in the program were negatively affected even though many people in the program couldn't see it. I think many of your readers can't imagine anything could really be that much worse than what their kids are getting. I understand why because I don't think anyone is getting anything spectacular under the current, overcrowded underfunded conditions. It's not likely to get better either.

I think the overcrowding is only going to get worse resulting in the elimination of programs because there just isn't going to be room for anybody to get anything different without really negatively impacting others in a way that might not even be visible upon first inspection.

I guess the district should have done some capacity planning 20 years ago and maybe we wouldn't be in this situation.

Gen Ed Mom

Anonymous said…
HCC families start out at gen ed schools, though. So they do have a point of comparison. And the whole HCC school is made up of people who have come from other schools at different points. We do have perspective. Maybe not yours, but we do have points of comparison. My HCC experience has not been at all "more" than our gen ed experience. Maybe yours was bad- our bad year(and it was also very bad) was in an HCC school, also in a split. I do not think the way our district currently does splits is typically in the best interests of children. Spectrum(what was at your school) is gone, so we don't have to argue about it. I agree HCC should be in its own building, though you were just talking about Spectrum, not HCC I don't think, and I agree more because of competing enrollment pressures in either an assignment or an option school.

I do think we need a program for gifted/advanced students, and advanced classes in high school for whoever wants them (though I think it is absurd that they used the MSP for entance. Just stop doing that; don't get rid of them altogether.)


Anonymous said…
HCC families may know what it's like to have kids in Gen Ed schools. HCC families in a school with 2 programs might NOT know what it's like to be in the Gen Ed program at an HCC (or previously self contained Spectrum school). I knew only one person with kids in both programs at the old school and she told me that people said the Gen Ed kids got the same but that wasn't their family's experience. She felt her AL kid had a far better experience.

I was very disheartened to get that letter from the district about split classes. Having splits that just put random kids together will detract so much from any benefit of having smaller class sizes that there will be no net benefit. In fact, the results will probably be worse. Splits have to be planned very carefully by teachers who know the kids. If I had kids who were still in elementary school I'd be thinking about taking them out of SPS rather than deal with the thought that every year might be a split.

Gen Ed Mom
Anonymous said…
I know many- but I would, knowing HCC families. And I would not say your friends' is the majority experience. It seems mixed, tilted toward preferring the gen ed program(esp if it is language), but thinking their HCC kid needs this program, so what can you do? I do not know if it is necessarily your school, and of course now there are not more self contained spectrum schools.

I wanted to make that point above in the last post, but all I can think about now is Dallas. So this is clipped, I know, and not as well thought out as I would like. I don't love anecdata, but can't even begin to imagine how we would collect actual data. I know splits can sometimes be done well- with smaller class sizes than regular, carefully chosen kids, carefully chosen teacher. But if any one of those are gone it's not a good experience, and for the most part one of those is gone (esp the class size).

NESeattleMom said…
I thought it was only Honors for All LA at GHS. GHS PTA just sent a Q&A with the teachers in Honors for All, and it is both LA and Social Studies. Honors for all. Remedial reading will be an additional class and all 9th grade LA and SS will be completely 'heterogeneous', the word they used,
Disgusted said…
I watched the board meeting and saw principals testify. Other than equity, it was not clear what they were advocating for or against.

I'm disturbed that J'accuse would bring a board member's children into a public discussion. Disgusting.
Anonymous said…
Director Peters in her communique identifies herself as a School Board director and HCC parent, thus bringing her children's concerns into the matter. Note that she did not identify as a Seattle Schools parent but rather as a HCC parent, despite being responsible for all students at large. In addition pointing out that Director Peters children benefit from the policies of privilege which Director Peters advocates for is not an attack, it's a statement of fact. She is not a neutral participant here.

Stop with this red herring about attacking children. This is used on every occasion someone tries to scrutinize any aspect of HCC to intimidate and stop discussion. It's a deflection strategy and is used to silence. It's legitimate to question the effectiveness and politics of HCC and who benefits and doesn't. HCC is composed of students/children. They are part of the discussion. As I have said before they are lovely children, as all children are. No one is disparaging children, just raising concerns about a serious matter that impacts all children in the district, not just those in HCC.

Anonymous said…
It's not appropriate to stop talking about attacking children because she was attacking children. That is why people tried to get us to look at other labels and how that would sound- because the people she is talking about are children, not the adult white establishment who has to answer for crimes in their name. These are little kids that we have to educate appropriately, who deserve a chance to learn something new at school, like every other kid, whether we like their parents or not.

Most of the directors are also SPS parents. Of course their children will benefit from policies they enact. If they make the district better, all kids will benefit. Congresspeople are also citizens of their states, and it's not really a problem for them to advocate in congress for things that benefit their state. It is how representation is supposed to work. Dir Geary is I believe a special ed parent, and I dearly hope she uses her knowledge and closeness to the situation to advocate for special ed students.

Disgusted said…
Having a conversation is one thing, but bringing a board director's children into a conversation is off limits.

Realize that you have a problem, J'accuse. Keep the kids out of discussion; it reflects poorly on you.
Disgusted said…
The state provides funding for advanced learning. J'accuse needs to deal with his/her own stereo-types and prejudices.
Anonymous said…
The state provides funding but leaves the question of service up to the districts.

How are we going to talk about HCC if we don't talk about who is in it. It's like talking about the bus Rosa Parks was on instead of the people riding it and where they are seated. Remember children rode that bus too.

Anonymous said…
You can talk about them without calling them "white fragile" and insulting them! Like I can talk about black boys without calling them thugs. That's offensive. And if a teacher says either I have zero faith in their ability to teach that group.

Disgusted said…
Our election process allows for individuals from many backgrounds. These individuals bring varying opinions and this is a good thing.

Calling attention to a board member's special need child- and the services they receive- would be equally offensive.

Children of elected officials are off limits.
Anonymous said…

Who are your remarks directed to?

Also you just called some one something by saying you wouldn't, but you did. I believe your unfortunate analogy is indicative of your thinking and the way you see the world. Not inspiring.

Anonymous said…
To you, about the teacher on soup for teachers and Dir Peters response on the same forum.
No, I used the word to explain the word, but not as a descriptive of any actual people, unlike the teacher who was talking about actual students she has had in her clasd. The harm is not in uttering the word, like it's a magic spell, but in using it to dismiss a group of children.

Anonymous said…
J'accuse. Right on! This heavily HCC-dominated blog can never give an inch. "Everything for them. Nothing for others. My kid can't even sit in the same room as others and do advanced work - because the others aren't good enough for us and will make us stupider." I admire Peters - most of the time. But right. She brought up her status as an HCC parent - and so she brought them to the party. You've done nothing wrong, except to a crowd who believes in separate but equal. Look at Dallas, Minnesota - and think about the segregation that starts in elementary leads. Think for a change.

GarfieldMom said…
Project-based learning is not "group projects." Project-based learning has been in use at Garfield for years, and its use is increasing because the results have been fantastic. GHS parents, ask your kids what they've heard about (or how they experienced) project-based AP Government with Mr. N-K. It was hands-down the best academic class my kid had at GHS. There was no shortage of rigor or of high level analysis and writing.

These are good changes. The sky is not falling.
Anonymous said…
GHS mom - it's really not about the results. Ask Charlie. He even posted once "It's the Cohort Stupid." If it's really all just "about the cohort" (as he has directly said in the past when he actually was an SPS parent) - then really the good results that you're noticing from PBL at GHS, and that teachers are proposing don't even matter. It isn't about a good class. It isn't about getting your needs met. It isn't about what anybody learns - the only thing that matters is who you sit next to, and more importantly - who you avoid sitting next to.

We all know that if the district were to "measure" something, or "evaluate" something - the results would be whatever the district wanted them to be. So let's not feign that we really care about that "evaluation"; and let's not feign that we really care that SPS pretends to measure something - and then declare a victory as it usually does. If SPS did that, nobody would believe them anyway. So skip the moaning when they don't do that - cheer instead.

Really folks - there's more to life than who your kid sits next to in 9th grade in a couple of highly open ended content based classes. Truly there is. Nobody is dying. Right on Garfield mom.

Anonymous said…
The project-based version of AP Government takes a full year to cover the material taught in one semester of the traditional version of the class. While it may be a fun class, it's a waste of time for many students. This is fine as long as it's an elective and the traditional version is still available. It's outrageous to require students to take project based classes when they are ready and able to move more quickly through the material. It's particularly outrageous for a school where 30% of the students are academically gifted.

Wasted Time
Anonymous said…
Wasted time-

You are wasting your time here. Those who seek to destroy AL in the service of "equity," are not interested. They are fine for someone else's child to learn nothing for a year.

Even thought Equity does not mean what "equity everywhere" thinks it does, we must have equity no matter what. EE - you really should educate yourself about the difference between the word "equity" and "equality." You'll find they don't mean the same thing.

Maureen said…
Wasted Time, your student could also self study AP Government without taking the class at all. They can do that with all of the AP classes. In fact, if they qualify, they can go straight to UW after their sophomore year, or after they finish 8th grade if they really want to save time. If parents of highly capable kids are anxious for them to move ahead faster they have options. It's not clear to me why that is such an often stated goal. I understand that acceleration is often the only form of advanced learning that SPS offers, but I don't understand why it is valued in and of itself.

You have expressed it more directly than most parents who post here, but this idea of "wasting time" does seem to underlie much of the parents motivation in enrolling their kids in HCC. In fact, it is often paired with the word "boredom." I would argue that quality Project Based Learning can provide more than just the content a student would learn to ace the AP Gov exam and in fact would teach useful life and career skills that would be well worth their time and prevent boredom.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Garfield does offer the single semester version of AP Gov't. They are not offering a non-project-based version of the ninth grade classes.

Project-based learning is not always deeper and more meaningful. Sometimes it just presents the material in several different ways or requires the student to "discover" the answers for themselves. These methods of teaching are helpful for students who need the repetition or are not engaged in learning the subject.

A child who is generally engaged and does not need the repetition could cover the material more quickly and move on to learn something else. Some students just want to learn more and resent spending weeks on a unit that for example covers one novel.

Schools should provide for the learning needs of all these students.

Wasted Time
Anonymous said…
Random, you really should educate yourself on project based learning. You're so smart that you can cure cancer? Great. Put the cure in your project. That's equity. Maybe you're just afraid your kid will come up short doing something besides a well prepped test. Don't worry! You can still do those projects for your kid and probably still ace them.

Anonymous said…
Well duh! Of course Thurgood Marshall doesn't have integrated art, music, or pe. Those are PCP periods for the main teacher. Eg. Her planning time. So if the main class is racially segregated, the PCP class must be as well. Besides, how condescending... integration for inconsequential operational functions only. PCP relief is in the collective bargaining agreement. It's by class in every elementary.

How ironic that the mention of integration, for the briefest period, for something likely to be well done and enlightening, from people who cherish learning from a cohort, brings out the torches at a school named Thurgood Marshall. Let's at least rename the school to something more appropriate. Like George Wallace Elementary.

Anonymous said…

I am certainly not smart enough to understand your post. It makes zero sense.

Equity is finding which type of education works best for each kid and allowing them to do that. PBL can be a good fit for some but it is not for others. One size fits all leaves many kids out.

Anonymous said…
Random, clearly you need to educate yourself then. Projects are a way you can get the type of education you need or want, whatever that happens to be. It is not one sized. Projects are actually more suited to kids who can go deeper because it encourages them to develop the real world skills of initiative, presentation, communication, and collaboration along with content. Anybody can "cover the material". Nobody is grabbing the books out of your kid's hand. You are surely confused if you think it causes repetition. Clearly, you are misunderstanding what pbl is. At some point, we all move to work, where everything is a project. You'd think those super smart kids would want to taste that sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said…
As I often tell my kids, "life is a group project". You might as well learn those skills now, in high school, because you are going to be using them everyday for the rest of your life. - NP
Anonymous said…
If I recall correctly, the year long AP Gov class started when APP/HCC kids started taking AP world History in 9th grade. They would then take AP US history in 10th, and would be left with only 1 semester of AP Gov in 11th, and that did not satisfy the 3 years of social studies graduation requirements. The fix - expand AP Gov to a full year. Now that the HCC kids are coming in taking World History in 9th there isn't a need for the year long AP Gov course,, but it apparently has a following.

Old Bulldog
Lynn said…
Old Bulldog,

You're thinking of the Contemporary World Issues class at Garfield:
Credits: 0.5 credit
Grade(s): APP Seniors & those missing WH or SS elective credit

Length of Course: One Semester Prerequisite: None

Graduation Requirement Satisfied: Elective * NCAA Initial Clearinghouse Approved Course

This is a project-based, one semester course for 11th and 12th grade students. The purpose of the course is to increase student understanding of contemporary problems facing our global society. Students will investigate issues through examination of the historical or cultural roots, as well as current solutions. Topics will include: economics and politics, national issues such as governmental policies, and international issues such as trade, military conflict, and environmental concerns.

The year-long AP US Government class is an ongoing experiment by the UW. http://old.seattletimes.com/html/education/2023026649_edlabadvancedplacementxml.html
z said…
Random, clearly you need to educate yourself then. Projects are a way you can get the type of education you need or want, whatever that happens to be.

E, clearly you need to educate yourself then, on what PBL means to a lot of teachers in real life. Art projects in history and math. Video projects in LA, etc. It's not a matter of getting to pick and choose, you don't get to write a research paper on a topic or person of interest. You have to do what the teacher thinks would be a "fun project". Is this "real" project based learning? That is up for debate, but it's the reality in many (most, in my experience) classrooms.

The worst part is that these are often assigned as group projects, with little to no classroom time, requiring kids to figure out how to meet as a group outside school. In a neighborhood school that might semi-okay, but at an HCC school that means cross-town coordination, so you're dragging parents into the picture for scheduling and transportation. Even in high school, at Garfield in particular, there are kids from the very southern border of the city, both east and west, to the very northern border of the city, both east and west. Even if they didn't have full schedules that often have no free-time overlap with other kids, good luck figuring out the logistics of getting 4 or 5 kids from opposite sides of the city together in one place. Do we want our 14 year olds riding metro alone, trying to figure out where they're going? Maybe some kids can do that, but many simply do not have that skill at that age.

Does PBL require that projects are group-based, and that kids need to meet outside school? No, certainly not, but that's what happens. There should be some limits.

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