Friday, August 19, 2016

100 Black Parents Meeting on Garfield

 Before starting this thread I want to acknowledge that long-time (and beloved) staffer, Joe Bland, died on August 11th.  From the Garfield PTSA Facebook page:
Joe was a cherished presence at Garfield High School for almost 30 years where he worked as a teachers assistant in the gym (basketball, volleyball and wrestling), with the kids in detention and the incoming freshmen in the Bridge Program. His warmth and kindness touched so many.
I went to this meeting truly not knowing what to expect.

First, kudos to the 100 Black Parents group.  The meeting was well-organized, they had water available (it was hot - I brought a hand fan), a well-thought out agenda and even a door prize.

The meeting was led by Anita Adams (who works for the Mayor's office as an advisor but I believe was only there as a 100 Black Parents member) and Chukundi Salisbury (who owns a media company but again, was there as a 100 Black Parents leader.) 
Second, the meeting featured an elder, Mrs Horton, who said that they wouldn't have a prayer as they normally would to start the meeting (I think in deference to the topic and that not all in the meeting might be members of Mt. Zion Baptist) but we had a moment of silence.  At the end, she said, "Amen."   I had to smile.

Mr. Salisbury set a very easy-going tone and said that sometimes African-American parents can be "reactive" but that this meeting was about being "proactive."  (Editor's clarification 8/20 from Mr. Salisbury; "parents" (all) can be reactive and that 100 black parents is proactive in our collective requests and responses.")He said he wanted the focus on not what has or had not happened but what their group wants to see happen.

He also said that while the teachers were here to talk about Honors for All, that issue was not the only one their group was interested in hearing about and presenting to Mr. Howard.  

We all introduced ourselves.  Most were parents of current or incoming Garfield students (and many were Garfield grads themselves.)  Keisha Scarlett, who used to be the principal at South Shore but is now a principal leadership coach for the district, said that her child was 5th on the waitlist for Garfield.  She stated that Rainier Beach had no music program and she wanted her child to have access to Garfield's.  Besides myself, there was a reporter from the Times.

Then five teachers, a woman and 4 men, all white, got up to talk about Honors for All.  I did learn some things that were not clear to me before about Honors for All.

1. I didn't know that there were far more Honors classes than Gen Ed for 9th grade History.   Given the skew, I'm surprised that this idea didn't seem to come up sooner.
2. Also, the way they have been structuring those Honors classes is to take AP History and divide it into two years.  So the 9th grade Honors for All for history will be the AP History curriculum.  Students can then decide in 10th grade if they want to continue onto AP History.  (They also mentioned that the 9th grade History is ancient history to 1400 and AP History is then 1400 to the end of the Cold War.)  They said this two-year timeline gives them flexibility in their teaching.
3. They said that some of the focus for Honors for All in LA and History will be on critical reading and writing skills.
4. One teacher mentioned that some kids came into Garfield from feeder schools and some were better prepared than others.  I took that to mean that some of the middle schools were better preparing kids but I was not able to ask which schools they meant.
5.  It was also mentioned that Gen Ed classes were not working "to the highest caliber" which would beg of question of why not?  What was holding teachers back from working to that standard?
6.  One teacher mentioned that Honors for All could end kids of color from feeling "tokenized" in AP classes and "that won't happen" in Honors for All.  He said they would feel "socially competent."

 I also didn't get to ask why none of this was told to parents, either incoming or current, before the Times article came out. 

One teacher made a statement that Mr. Howard echoed later on which may be a key factor - he said that he had come to Garfield seven years prior and had been hoping for change but now they had the "right" teachers.  Now having a unified teaching corps along with a principal that supports them is a VERY good thing.  But I have to wonder who came and who left in order to make that so.  (We were told "all" the History/LA teachers were united on Honors for All but I'm not sure if they meant the 9th grade teachers or across all grade levels.)  There was a sense of vagueness in their answers to several questions.

There was a lot of talk, from both Howard and the teachers, about honoring learning styles.  Apparently, the work will have enough variety to serve different skills like speaking, art, reading, etc.

A parent asked a question about grading and the response was yes, it will be "fluid."  But there was no explanation of what that meant.

One key to helping kids who may struggle in these classes is that the teachers create a "summary" of the readings for students in order to allow them to know what the reading is about (and then, I guess, read for content.)    The teacher said that this allows for "self-advocacy" about what they need in class.  Another teacher said some kids liked the summaries and other students said they were "useless."

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

Parent Q&A to teachers

- there was a question about white male dominant history being taught.  The teachers said that they do not teach from a Europe-centric view.   The book they use is not the one that most schools use for AP History.

It was noted by one teacher that the book has "difficult, dense text" more akin to a freshman in college than freshman in high school.  But, he said it was also "wonderfully narrative" and allows teachers to "loop back to our own time" and therefore, make it more relevant to students.

- it was asked about how kids might feel better about themselves if they were struggling.  One teacher said they would work to make sure that doesn't happen and for parents to "hold us accountable."

- The teachers also stated that they had taken a 3-day workshop from a GHS teacher (who is now leaving GHS) and learning about "status in the room." He said if a student comes in with lower skills, that's just one part and not allow "people who have been more able like a sports star" because "intentional activities will reverse those measure of status and allow students to grow as human beings."  

He said there would be group work but that even if one person finishes in three minutes, the activity would not be finished until all in the group had their questions answered and work done.   (I have to wonder how that will play out in real time.)

He said he was "profoundly changed by the spirit of the work" at the workshop.  He also said it is a "framework of humanity that will annoy a lot of people but in a good way."  He also said "conflict is part of the learning process."  

- The teachers said "de-tracking" is not new and it's a well-studied change.  They also said the research shows that students are better off in a heterogeneous classroom - "the lower track do better and the higher track still learn but don't fall down."  Again, no chance to ask them to parse that thought out.  What I have read in my research is that most students do better except for high achievers whose growth is small to none.  It's not that those students don't learn; they don't learn to the highest level they could.

- One parent had an interesting question - he asked if previous generations had more historical background than now?  The teachers seemed to think that high school kids today are much more savvy about media shaping a topic or the vagaries of textbooks as well as issues of sexual identity, race, wealth,etc.   That is probably a true statement by the teacher but I'm not sure it answered that question.  I always find it troubling when people give answers but not directly to the question.

One parent suggested a column in the student newspaper on "experiences in different classes."  That might be good but I don't think some teachers would like what they read nor would most students want to sign their names to their comments.

Then we came to the presentation of the top 7 items from the parent survey by 100 Black Parents (although they are still accepting survey results.)  You'll recall there were 17 items to be rank ordered.  Here's the top seven (but it was not indicated if this is the rank order of voting):

1. increase of black students in Honors and AP classes
2. greater support system for students who struggle academically (community tutoring, administrator and counseling office open/drop in hours)
3. no more suspensions - address disproportionate rate of suspensions (via restorative justice, moratorium, Saturday school, etc.)
4. additional college/career tracking opportunities
5. enforcement and accountability of teachers' timely input of grades/assignments in the Source/Schoology)
6. mandatory race and justice questions in each interview (I assume for teachers)
7. teacher engagement with parents.

The 100 Black Parents leaders said that they want "to help Principal Howard shape policies that will benefit African-American students."  They said these were not an ultimatum and they want to support the school.  But they said it is a line in the sand and they would like to see some action.

It was also stated that there were two PTSA members (not sure if they meant Board members as in PTSA leadership) in the room and they wanted to hold them "accountable for money raised and used."  That kind of passed by the room but it's a pretty big statement.

Principal Howard

Principal Howard's remarks I found almost like listening to a political speech.  After the fairly direct hand-off from Mr. Salisbury on the top seven items that the 100 Black Parents group would like addressed, Howard promptly ignored them in his remarks.  (I did not stay for the last Q&A with him.)

He repeatedly said he did NOT have the answers, nor did anyone including Seattle Schools.  (He had nothing good to say about SPS.)

He also repeatedly spoke of different learning styles and addressing those but said nothing specific.

He said, "Our job is to give kids experiences like taking honors or an AP class" but wondered where the resources were for that.

To parents' roles, he said, "Garfield is not a drop-off dry-cleaner for parents to just drop off their kids to learn."  He said if parents don't participate in education, "learning stops. I expect you to be involved."

He said that going to a PTA meeting is "entry level" for parenting at school.  He said the second tier is to be in the classroom and to keep up with The Source and Powerschools and their students' assignments.  Oddly, he didn't not address the one item on the top seven list that he could have which is why teachers don't put in grades/assignments more often.  They don't have to per the CBA.  The last time I looked, it was only mandated for twice a quarter.  That's something he could have told parents but perhaps he thought if he encouraged them to ask teachers, the teachers might use it more often.

He said the third tier was keeping track of who your child is hanging out with.  (There was a suggestion that when your child is out and about to ask your child to take and send a photo of who they are with.)

He then went off on a tangent about teens and phone use and keeping track of students.

He said that Garfield was "open and receptive to your ideas."

He then went on a track about the way some kids are at school "I'm up here and you're down there."  "I have a polo on and you don't."  

He said he liked the 100 Black Parents platform.  But then spoke of "General PTSA" and that he has never seen more than three black parents at any PTSA meeting in 11 years.  He said there is a "white PTSA", a "Latino PTSA" and now 100 Black Parents.  He said GHS is three schools in one.

The last thing I heard before I left was a statement from him about the Central District gentrifying.


About the teachers - it all sounds good but it is an exceptionally heavy lift.  That neither Principal Howard nor the teachers talked about how the resources will be found for all this work is worrisome. I will also say after listening intently last night that this might be about academics but it appears to  also be equal parts social justice because the teachers and the principal believe the mix will help the overall school atmosphere.   I think they want a more heterogeneous look to their classrooms to help kids learn more from each other but also to see if the mix will have better academic outcomes for all. 

But that it is not being openly acknowledged as that is troubling to me.  If it's about social justice, say so.

About Mr. Howard - He acknowledges that he has been a principal at Garfield for a long time and yet, has no explanation about why it has taken this long to conceive and push for change.  From the Times' article, he sounds like he has nibbled around the edges but maybe, with a teaching corps behind him, he is ready for a real bite.

In short, this truly is a big experiment to see if all the pieces will line up (and there seem to be a lot of them.)

I think between Garfield and Thurgood Marshall, the district is tacitly pushing these ideas. I think this is the district's experimentation but, if it doesn't work, one that they can blame on the schools.

At the same time, the district seems to be systematically taking apart Advanced Learning in other ways.  I see very little senior management or open Board support for this program.

Lastly, per "family engagement," I call BS because neither Garfield nor the district have done any outreach on these changes in any real way.  The district wants to say one thing and do another as it suits them but, just like a saloon door, policies can swing both ways and sometimes hit you in the face.


NESeattleMom said...
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Anonymous said...

As a parent of a middle-schooler it looks like we're going to have to steer far clear of Garfield. What they're laying out is the idea that it's somehow wrong for kids to excel, that kids who are advanced learners are being defined as "privileged" (even if they're not white) and thus everything has to be designed to pull them back down into the pack. They're not focusing on student learning at all. They're openly denigrating the idea. I agree with Melissa: if this is solely about social justice and academics is no longer a priority, say so. Most of us parents can see this is already the case.

And a thought about "social justice." The way I learned it meant we went after real power - the people who have the money and who make the decisions that sustain and promote oppression. The so-called "1%." The white billionaires who starve our schools and then privatize them for their own profits. The elected officials who promote racist policies and inequality. I was specifically taught that it did *not* mean working people turning on each other while letting those with actual power slide by.

But that's what's going on here. A bunch of people in Seattle have identified white liberals, rather than Bill Gates or Steve Ballmer, as the real enemy. They've convinced themselves that if they ignore the 1% to instead tear down white liberals and their children, somehow racial and social justice will follow. It won't, and it never has. But this is about resentment and jealousy, not about actual change or equity.

Fauntleroy Father

Anonymous said...

Thanks for attending Melissa. I wish my child had more diverse views in LA and SS. I guess people call this social justice, though I'm not sure why.

Reading Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright or Sherman Alexie alongside Fitzgerald, Mark Twain or Harper Lee in a diverse classroom means you have a far more enhanced opportunity to witness and learn what history and writing really mean. One of the best and most memorable classes my child had was when there was a rollicking discussion over a historical event and how it was presented by historians of that time up until very recently and how the voices and experiences of a large swath of people most affected by the event were left out. The only reason that blip in history turned into a heated discussion was because a student spoke up and had a vastly different and personal reaction to the material presented. It wasn't something dry and dusty or a footnote. It became a discussion of constitutionality and what it means when the rights of citizens are abrogated, what citizenship means, and how history shaped outlook right down to who and what gets left in and out of history books, literature and classroom discussion. It defines that whole saying- history is written by the victors. You want to talk about 1%. Start here. It's not about the 1%, but who allows the 1% to emerge and flourish.

It takes learning to a whole new level. It wasn't just about valuing diverse or lone perspective, but how to engage with each other wihen talking about a difficult and sensitive topic.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"I agree with Melissa: if this is solely about social justice and academics is no longer a priority, say so."

I did not say this; I said it appears to me to be equal parts academics and social justice and if social justice is part of the goal, it should be openly stated. My thinking is that Howard and the teachers may think it's obvious and they don't need to say it out loud.

Reader, I think your experience is very much what they would like to see happen.

Anonymous said...

I think you've accurately summarized some of the situational dynamics that many of us are experiencing at Garfield. Kudos for the parents getting together and having a list of priorities. I actually think you could get that list together with a PTSA list and have a pretty good match.

So the parents put together a list and what happens? The teachers talk about their personal social justice agenda. Ted is off on a few tangents.

I'm halfway through Garfield with one kid and the second one is just starting. Prior to this honors for all debacle, it was possible to look past all of the dysfunction and see the redeeming features: diverse school in the neighborhood, public education, many good teachers. If I was starting over from scratch I would be looking at all of this and I think I would do my best to steer clear.

It is a complex ecosystem and not an easy job for any of the administration or the teachers. That said, using some basic process to get the community aligned on a vision for the school that is forward looking, accommodates the wide range of attendees and gets people on the same page would be a good thing. And hopefully creates some accountability.

Cap Hill

Watching said...

I will not send my child to Garfield, as well, and I believe it is ok for an advanced student to take an occasional general ed. class.

I'm disturbed about the tone of the discussion. Anyone that brings up concerns about the needs of advanced learners is called a racist. I'm not sure what is going on in the school, but the media and some on this blog are helping to create a toxic environment. I will be share my sentiments with other middle school parents.

Po3 said...

What I would like to see in every high school in SPS is a mandatory class on Race & Gender.
No online substitutions, no band or sports waivers.
Every single student takes one year of Race and Gender studies.
Call it Social Studies.

Anonymous said...

What are “intentional activities that will reverse those measures of status”?

Sounds like social justice in the schools at its worst – the check your privilege movement complete with shaming and heavily presumptive about everyone’s individual experience based on their birth.


Anonymous said...

Not sure that's the original Po3 commenting above.

Why call out band/PE waivers? What about other electives a student may want to take, like foreign language, choir, drama, etc., which for students taking a support class may be their only elective? My child would be out of sorts without an art class (and can get a PE waiver with sports participation - what a great way to stay in shape, build school spirit, and meet even more students).

-not Po3

Anonymous said...

"Highly educated whites, like others, make decisions about schooling and residence within a particular structure of status hierarchies. These hierarchies link educational and neighborhood and school status, and negatively relate minority presence with status. Education does not free people from this structure. In fact, education increases people’s investment in status hierarchies, and their ability to successfully negotiate them. As such, education may actually heighten segregation levels."
(Emerson and Sinkkink http://www3.nd.edu/~dsikkink/race.html)

Other perspectives on Garfield threat of exodus:




Anonymous said...

Ah...too much sand in your ears, FWIW. Stop with the mudslinging, it makes no sense, really.

-Sad State

Anonymous said...

Sound familiar?

"Pitched battles are more common in integrated schools, but even here they happen rarely because, in large measure, the affluent white parents have already won. The plum classes and programs for their children already exist, as do the letter grades and awards to distinguish them from those other children. The system serves these parents well, and their influence is such — or the fear that they will yank their children out is sufficient — that few superintendents (and even fewer school boards) dare to rock this boat on which first-class cabins are so clearly delineated from steerage. The reformers eventually get tired — or fired." Alfie Kohn



Anonymous said...

Sad State: Take your complaints to the researchers.


NESeattleMom said...
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Anonymous said...

Scapegoating well-meaning parents who want to help, through PTSA fundraising and other channels, the entire school community and who expressly chose Garfield over north-end schools because they value diversity, for the existence racial inequity makes no sense. Of course we are in favor of helping black students succeed, but shortchanging our own children's education isn't the solution.

Saying education heightens segregation levels sounds like the powerful strain of anti-intellectual bias unleashed by one of the candidates in the current presidential election. Have we really reached the witch-hunt stage where feelings overpower facts?


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Here's the thing, folks. All this privilege and status chasing and inequity so on doesn't go away just because you eliminate advanced learning. This discussion proves my point that this is solely about getting back at a small group of white parents, of taking them and their kids down a peg and concluding that is all we need to do to achieve racial justice.

That system that the researchers describe wasn't created by middle class white parents. It's created and maintained by wealthy white executives, who use their power and wealth to perpetuate a system in which there's never enough to go around and so white parents are told that they have to jump through these hoops in order to avoid poverty.

In such a situation, those parents will *always* find a way to get what they need for their kids. Always. Every time. And if SPS doesn't offer advanced learning, then those parents will spend money they don't have to put their kids in private school, or move to a less diverse suburb.

This is exactly what happened in the 1960s and 1970s and it's what will happen again if we continue to believe that racial justice means eliminating advanced learning. Folks pushing the attack on advanced learning do not actually understand what privilege is, they don't understand what racial justice is, and they don't understand what equity is. They merely know enough to use those buzzwords as cover for their petty jealousies.

Fauntleroy Father

NESeattleMom said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

I am not good with the tone of this discussion.

To note, I'm not uncomfortable so don't anyone start on that meme.

This is a discussion about a meeting about a change to academics at GHS to try to better meet the academic needs of black students there. If you have information or thoughts on that, please comment. Otherwise, find someplace else to comment at.

n said...

With apologies, I'm reposting this to the relevant thread:

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

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

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

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


I read more white privilege on this thread than I've read in a long time. We owe Black Americans and their progeny more than we can ever repay because those children are still suffering the legacy of white Europeans oppression. One doesn't erase the blackboard of slavery by saying it wasn't me. That is so wrong.

Melissa Westbrook said...

N, I don't think anyone is saying, "It isn't me." As well, from what I have read, everyone wants to raise up academics for all kids.

But I find that in these times, there seems to be a feeling of one way to do something. Ed reformers do this all the time. I would give GHS teachers a lot more credit on this subject because they ARE teachers. But even they cannot say, there's just one way to do this.

Anonymous said...

From HCC
"Scapegoating well-meaning parents who want to help, through PTSA fundraising and other channels, the entire school community and who expressly chose Garfield over north-end schools because they value diversity, for the existence racial inequity makes no sense. Of course we are in favor of helping black students succeed, but shortchanging our own children's education isn't the solution."

from Alfie Kohn

As Amy Stuart Wells of UCLA sees it, even many liberal white parents may say, in effect, “We like the fact that our kids are in desegregated schools, but the fact that the white kids are in the top classes and the black kids are in the bottom is someone else’s problem.” Last fall, U.S. News & World Report published an article documenting how many “schools that appear integrated from the outside are highly segregated within. . . . Honors classes are dominated by whites, regular classes by blacks.”[6] In response, a liberal New Republic columnist readily agreed that the honors program in his own daughter’s school in Montgomery County, Maryland, amounted to “a school within a school” for the white and Asian students — and then announced that if this program were eliminated, he would pull his daughter out of that school “in a nanosecond.”

BTW, those were quotes were from researchers, not from me or Paul Monafort. The data continues to demonstrate that educated whites choose more segregated schools and
programs. The research is becoming more prolific since segregated schools are now in the policy limelight. If that feels like "scapegoating" remember the researchers did not have you, personally, in mind when they analyzed the data.


Anonymous said...

There is a contingency of HCC parents working tirelessly to improve education funding in our state with equitable access to quality education as the main goal. There are many parents who have volunteered numerous hours on equity teams and other committees looking at ways to improve access to advanced learning program for all students. There are parents donating a lot of money to PTA's, political campaigns and area nonprofits working to support low-income families and improve educational outcome for under represented groups.

SPS had busing in place to force integration and they eliminated the practice under MGJ.

It seems like FWIW, reader and a few other regular posters are recommending a one size fits all education approach because they haven't made any suggestions as to how they would solve for the segregation issues they repeatedly point out. These articles suggesting parents in desegregated schools with students in advanced programs or enrichment activities are to fault is beyond worrisome. This tells me busing isn't enough, differentiated learning in elementary school isn't enough...they want to eliminate advanced programs all together. This hurts everyone, this isn't an answer.

Challenge: lay out your vision, rather than fixating on everything that is wrong. I'd like to know how that plays out for all option schools, including STEM, immersion, experiential (TC/Salmon Bay...) and Montessori.

Kudos to Garfield for attempting to solve some issues at their school. Shame on them for how they rolled this out.

Sad State

Anonymous said...

"Vision": comply with the state law regarding reflection of demographics in HCC (SPS doesn't have a choice), follow CogAT author's scoring protocol (if the test continues to be used), and use a continuum of services model (again, state law). The large percentage of students identified for HC (from a mostly similar demographic) placed in self-contained segregated programs is indefensible by all best practices and ethics.

Identify the most highly capable students, not the most prepared. To claim that I am against advanced learning is not only wrong, it is eggregious. I fully support the efforts of Rainier Scholars and am sad that it is necessary since these same students have been ignored by SPS. Students who are gifted and talented are not only protected by law, but need specialized instruction.

Increase magnet/option schools (the opposite of the mantra "you want one size fits all"), gerrymander boundaries, and allow a percentage of school choice.

So, there is a short list. Pointing out the fact that there is a huge issue of injustice in this district helps enable change.

If you take the research personally, that is your problem. The facts are the facts.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm happy to present the research I have on whether putting all kids in the same class really works.

Because there is research - a lot of it - on both sides about what works. I'll post it if people want to read it but for public education, there is very little agreement on what truly works. There are swings in popularity (especially around this issue.)

Oh, what the heck; mabye I'll jsut put it up.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, I am guessing you are a Garfield teacher or someone very close to them since you are so passionate and well read on the subject. Can you address what the school is doing on the 7 things that the parents asked about? Many of these are pretty easy things (like using schoology). Is the school going to hire a real college counselor (with the money the PTSA is trying to give them) or is it going to park another unqualified football coach/basketball coach in the role?

I'd also like to know what this actually means "not allow "people who have been more able like a sports star" because "intentional activities will reverse those measure of status and allow students to grow as human beings." "

And what, exactly is "fluid grading"?

Finally, since one of the items is parent engagement, I'd love to know how you think the school would rate with parents on parental engagement? Seems like there are a lot of unhappy parents. Parents that give money to sponsor the programs you need (like teacher stipends, like academic support programs for minority kids). Or is this just a great example of "conflict is part of the learning process."

Thanks, Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

And oh, by the way: nothing laid out in your vision means that there is a one size fits all classroom...some of the suggestions are sensible (particularly the intake mechanisms). But when you do identify and nurture that cohort of accelerated african american kids, do you think they'll be content with honors for all? Or will they be asking for the real deal...Cap Hill

Anonymous said...

Maybe look up the definition of continuum of services, too.

The state law requires that, and it is not used by SPS. Self-contained
is reserved for the students who need it, not for those whose parents
know how to navigate the system best.

The definition of gifted is specific. Most of the research supporting
self-contained or separate classes has to do with addressing the needs
of truly highly capable students. HC is Seattle does not follow the
identification matrix for gifted. Many of us are already quite familiar
with the research on actual gifted or highly capable students.

The group called "HC" is Seattle is a highly flawed sample set.


Anonymous said...

Correction: "HC in Seattle" not "HC is Seattle" (Freudian slip, probably)


Anonymous said...

Can you answer the other questions? Also, you have 440 HCC kids at Garfield - more than enough to have self contained without real master schedule impact to other kids. It sounds like you are opposed to self contained on the principle that it is full of engaged parents, not whether it delivers better results for the kids in the class. Cap Hill.

Outsider said...

FWIW says "To claim that I am against advanced learning is not only wrong, it is eggregious." Well, OK, but your great passion seems to be knocking white and Asian kids out of HCC -- kids who want to be there and do well there. Your great passion is reducing the education of kids whom you don't like for racial reasons. What am I missing?

You are the future of public schools, I would agree. What future there is.

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with you, FWIW! The problem is that neighborhood schools don't serve the needs of gifted OR advanced learners, in too many cases, and that is getting worse. We need to solve for this through many of the suggestions Charlie has made, and by properly funding schools so we can have smaller class sizes, but there will still be a rub between SES from school to school based on neighborhood. You didn't speak to that problem, surprisingly, but I'm sure you have thoughts up your sleeve.

I'm not trying to out FWIW...but I still believe SHE's not a teacher.

Sad State

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, we do not out commenters. Let it go.

n said...

The idea that people who have come from immigrant European backgrounds, who have not descended from lynchers and slave owners, should be somehow rectifying the horrible things that have happened in this country doesn't make sense to me.

Perhaps then I misunderstood this post. Every European is privileged given the history and structural racism that continues whether they were part of the slavery trade/oppression or not. They benefit from it. I'm not blaming them but simply stating a fact.

BTW, I forgot to ask but do you know which book they are using for their curriculum? The title was never mentioned. I'd be curious to know if it might be Zinn's People's History of the United States. If so, that will really get some people going. I doubt it is but found it odd nobody asked . . . or maybe they did?

Anonymous said...

Public schools, underfunded as they are, can not be the 100% best thing for everybody. Our gifted population believes that they should have the 100% solution that is perfect for them and that maximizes their children's potential, even if it means a 20% education for everyone else. Parents complaining: schools do not meet the needs of my gifted kid - are really complaining that public school is not a 100% solution to maximize their kids every want. After all, what is the difference between a need and a want, after state standards are met? Proponents of minimizing self-contained education want a more equal distribution of students because it more equally provides an 80% maximizing education across all students, equally sharing burdens. True, as Jill Geary pointed out, an exclusive education may well be the 100% solution for some kids in self-contained classrooms that have weeded out most societal ills. But, when that group gets really large, it means a very large disabled, economically disadvantaged, and culturally deprived concentration of students receive a 20% education, or in some cases, even less. For example, students with IEPs who also don't speak English. Seattle Public Schools can not even be bothered to provide IEPs in their native language, much less specially designed instruction in any language. It is arguable that these students are getting no education. If all such students are dumped into 1 classroom, with regular education students, and this happens, I don't really think it is some sort of gifted jealousy when members of that classroom complain. I think a system where some people really and truly are getting a 20% educational solution in general ed has caused people to look at equity, which simply means sharing the costs.

Isn't it ridiculous to try to guess who various posters like FWIW are? It's pretty clear that his/her position is actually held by a sizeable group. Better to try to understand it, than guess at identities, which is pointless.


Lynn said...

A continuum of services doesn't mean what you think it does in this case. From OSPI:
WAC 392-170-078 Program services — defines the “continuum” as kindergarten through grade 12.
Districts shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's program for highly capable students. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.
WAC 392-170-078 Program services — defines the “continuum” as kindergarten through grade 12.
Districts shall make a variety of appropriate program services available to students who participate in the district's program for highly capable students. Once services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student from K-12. Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate.

Anonymous said...


Continuum of Services is language straight from Special Education Law and pertains to providing services that are appropriate to the needs of the student at a given place in time.

Continuum of Services means that the student is entitled to services and not a placement.

That is why the law stipulates that the student must be regularly assessed in order to determine whether or not the service is appropriate. The given services must be changed if they are no longer compatible with the needs of the student.

The "continuum" that you seem to be referring to means the "duration" of K-12.

Continuum of "services" does not mean the duration, but the range of the types of services.

Reading up on Special Education law, on which much of the OSPI/state law language is based, would help clarify.


Anonymous said...

Sorry, Melissa. I just noticed some posters referencing FWIW as "him" or "he" and that bugged me a bit. FWIW is well-studied and has a strong vocabulary and writing style, and could be a she just as easily as a he.... I really don't care who she is, just challenging assumptions.

I admit to pot stirring on that point, and I'll stop. Thanks again for the forum.

Sad State

NESeattleMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

"Our gifted population believes that they should have the 100% solution that is perfect for them and that maximizes their children's potential, even if it means a 20% education for everyone else."

I will caution commenters to preface this kind of remark with "In my opinion.." unless you have some kind of proof of that statement. I will say that I do not agree with that statement at all.

I may shut this thread down if all it is about is flamethrowing.

I think of course we can talk about white privilege but arguing over who got here first and who did what...to what end? Let's talk about the realities today and face those down. It's not about ignoring past history;it's about finding solutions today.

hooper said...

Two things,

FWIW is getting "outing" attacks for the sole purpose of intimidation and silencing, Pathetic.

Second, the lynching comment which was deleted is completely apropos this discussion.
The effects of slavery and its residue in the oppression of Americans of African descent are with us today.

Have you ever asked why there are black people in Seattle?

Some would say jobs but the violence, the unholy terror, inflicted on African Americans in the post-confederate states of the South was magnitudes greater than the mere racism and unofficial segregation of Seattle.

Harassment and indignity is far better for oneself and one's family than the constant threat of extra-judicial killing or, as lynching became increasingly popular with southern whites and in danger of being stopped with federal intervention, its replacement with quick trials and executions.

It's not a about guilt any more than it should be regarding any act of the past we all find disgraceful, like stealing the country from the First Nations people.

It's about recognizing the roots of the current problems, acknowledging the inhumane and sadistic treatment of our fellow human beings that has occurred, and then trying as hard as we can to make it right.

I didn't own slaves(obviously) and my kin arrived after legal slavery ended, but I live here in the US and I feel a responsibility to help correct the wrongs of white people who did do these horrible things.

The sad truth is that the whites still have more power to change things and IMO they should do as much as they can to make the country and the world less racist and more fair for the sake of their own children, if nothing else.

Do parents want to just kick this can down the road until their grand-kids are in school and there's still a huge gap in academic performance between the races?

Maybe it's impossible for many parents to go beyond the instinct to protect and promote their children.

Anonymous said...

You have repeatedly decried how gifted children can't maximize their potential unless they are in self-contained classrooms and how inclusion benefits kids who aren't gifted. You have said that gifted kids can learn in inclusion classrooms but they can't have their potential maximized (in previous posts). You have not said how or why you would achieve maximization of every kid's potential - only that we should maximize gifted kids' potential. Doesn't this speak to maximizing SOME kids at the price of letting others have ho-hum experiences? It seems to imply that math to me. Doesn't spreading the extra largess brought in by non impoverished families seem like fair thing to do? You have raised and reraised the tiny step towards integration at Garfield because it might harm gifted students, even though it seems to be such a small issue in the grand scheme of things. You have learned about demographic magnification of challenges that come about as a result of self-containing large portions. All that is the proof. And all you can say is that statements need to be prefaced with "In my opinion". Everything is "In my opinion", you could do the same. I think this is about a lot more than white privilege. It is about sharing the pie.


Watching said...

I appreciate passion and a spirited discussion, but I am still waiting for some to admit that gifted students have special needs. Do the research: There are high rates of suicide against gifted students.

It is great for individuals to advocate for some students, but it should not be at the expense of others.

I maintain that some have prejudices against gifted students. It wasn't that long ago when a Garfield teacher made a derogatory statement against advanced learners. Shameful

Anonymous said...

HCC and gifted are not synonymous. Some students in HCC are gifted, but many are not.
It is not designed by SPS to be a gifted program.

Gifted students have specialized needs. I stated this already in the thread.

Higher rates of depression and suicide?
Research seems to support a link between literary and visual creativity and
psychiatric conditions, but the link to academic talent does not seem to exist. In some studies, resiliency seems to actually increase with cognitive ability. Do
you have the data your supposition?


What seems indisputable at this point is the link between Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and outcomes. Trauma based intervention will help children
who are vulnerable.



Anonymous said...

1) it will be a relief to many to know that our hcc population is not currently being maximized. What we are arguing for keeping is not maximization. It is better than nothing. Nothing (being sent back to gen ed classrooms which did not work before) is what we are arguing against. Those gen ed classrooms do offer something to my gen ed students- a developmentally appropriate education with peers- that they do mot to my hcc students. Hcc is just that exact same offerung for my hcc student, who i believe has had a slightly lower quality education for his needs than my gen ed students. But a gen ed classroom was worse.

2) continuum of services in a state law about education is not controlled by that definition in IDEA. Continuum of services means many things in many different contexts, and what it means in special ed law is irrelevant to what it means for basic ed for highly capable students.

I tire of the link parade but agree with Melissa that the research os incredibly easy to find for self contained classes and the vulnerabilities of gifted students (who are generally defined in the same way SPS does it).


Anonymous said...

Most definitions of giftedness include a strong emphasis on creativity. SPS does not include this emphasis (and I don't just mean creativity in an artistic sense, but in ways of thinking and perceiving). The program is not designed by either identification or programming (two grade levels ahead) as a gifted program. This is not new information.

While OSPI is not mandated to follow IDEA for HC, it uses the IDEA language and intent in the state law. Lynn defined the "Continuum" as K-12. That is not what continuum of services means in the state law, which is why I brought up the context of the language.

"Continuum of services" certainly does not mean a one-size-fits all, opt-in self-contained, program for elementary. That is why we will be seeing changes as soon as space permits. Self-contained will remain a "service" for those who require it, but it will no longer be a default HCC "placement".


Anonymous said...

Sorry about the typos up there everybody. It's late.

Continuum of services does mean just that in many places(rather it may mean more- it's possible just one actual advanced learning offering is not a "continuum," but the element of choice is not a problem at all legally), and sps is operating well within the law. For research purposes giftedness is usually defined by iq, often using cogat scores as a shorthand. As most districts use it, as well.


Anonymous said...

The CogAT test does not measure giftedness but talent--"per" the author.

SPS is mis-scoring the test and identifying high numbers of students who
should not qualify. The author of the test is opposed to the scoring that SPS uses because it misses underrepresented groups and produces "hot zones".

This has been rehashed before, but your attempt to dismiss the obvious
cannot remain unaddressed.

It is not okay to "opt in" to services according to state law:

"WAC 392-170-078 Program services—Districts shall periodically review services for each student to ensure that the services are appropriate."

These incorrect statements that have been construed as fact are no longer going to go unaddressed. Too much is at stake for fairness and equity in this district.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Hooper, great history but then what? I keep saying this. We cannot forget what came before but we can't stay mired here, either.

Also, if readers say "you" in a comment, could you please reference who that is? I sometimes do not know who it is directed to.

On suicide and gifted teens:



Do I think you need a gifted program to avoid these students being depressed or suicidal? I can't answer that; I'm not qualified. Do I think it's a valid point for this type of discussion? Yes. At the very least, something to keep in mind. And yes, just as trauma affects all kids, that's another issue to keep in mind.

I just want to note there are some commenters that like to speak with authority and yet we have no idea who they are. Just that they claim to know.

Anonymous said...

Giftedness, not what most kids in HCC actually have, in my opinion, can be a burden just like physical deformity, or even one's skin color. Many kids have killed themselves because of sexual abuse as well, so by the logic of some, they need a segregated school experience.

My real name is:

Horace String

Anonymous said...

What is the HCC suicide rate making in the last decade? We had about 12 or so attempts in SPS according to Harborview. How many were HCC? We also have had a number of suicides for SPS. That's the data were looking for. I am not aware of any.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to know exactly how segregation helps bipolar kids and other gifted kids with suicidal impulses. Seems like it might exacerbate the problem, not ameliorate it.

If it's bullying, then why don't all bullied kids move into a segregated classroom?

I've also heard accounts of bullying at HCC locations, just like any other school, so I'm concerned that parents are being misled that a bullied and/or suicidal child would do better in the cohort.

Suicide prevention and anti-bullying should be the cornerstone at every school and as a gifted and mentally ill(saved by good meds) adult who suffered many problems at school back in the day, I can tell you the stigma of mental illness was the problem, not being in a regular program.

Do you mind if I don't out myself?

No. 3

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Horace, if that's your name, you are certainly off the grid.

Kind of childish.

Anonymous said...


Did you read those articles you posted? I did, before you posted them, and before I posted a link to a meta-study. There is no evidence in any of those that support a link between high cognitive ability/giftedness with suicide or psychiatric illness. The only established link, which I already stated, has to do with literary or artistic creativity.

From one of your links:

The Hoagies’ Page on Depression and Suicide declares, “Although it is a popular notion that gifted children are at risk for higher rates of depression and suicide than their average, no empirical data supports this belief, except for students who are creatively gifted in the visual arts and writing (see Neihart & Olenchak..). Nor, however, is there good evidence that rates of depression and suicide are significantly lower among populations of gifted children.”


Anonymous said...

FWIW, I think you and I agree more than not. You included this quote: "a liberal New Republic columnist readily agreed that the honors program in his own daughter’s school in Montgomery County, Maryland, amounted to “a school within a school” for the white and Asian students — and then announced that if this program were eliminated, he would pull his daughter out of that school “in a nanosecond.”"

That is exactly the point I've been making. That is *precisely* what parents will do. Neither you nor I will be able to stop them. You cannot fight the desire of parents to maximize what is best for their kids, especially when we live in an economy whose class structure demands that parents do this. So if advanced learning is eliminated at SPS in the name of racial justice, many parents will do what was done in the '60s and '70s: opt out of SPS entirely. You can't stop it. And how does that help achieve the stated racial justice goals?

So it would seem to me that instead of swimming upstream like this, we instead find ways to do both things at once - harness the desire of parents to get the best for their kids and use that to achieve racial justice.

Finally, to stay on thread, I believe most white parents in this district strongly support the things that the 100 Black Parents asked for, and want to help deliver them. But those parents will disengage from the discussion if they're told that the price of doing so is to take things away from their own children. Racial justice does not mean we set up false choices.

Fauntleroy Father

Anonymous said...

In "Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria", Beverly Tatum talks about identity formation in adolescence and about white privilege. I read this several years ago but I recall her suggesting that an unintended consequence of desegregation was that the high-achieving black kids, who were perfectly accepted at their segregated schools, were put in a bind. If they chose AP classes, many of their black friends would accuse them of trying to be white. And in the AP classes, some/many of their white classmates considered them "one of the good ones", which was insulting and made them feel complicit in anti-black racism. The AP black students also reported feeling pressure to be the perfect representation of their race. Unintended consequences. Maybe these things are why more AA kids don't choose HC/AP. It's also my impression that among some minorities being smart isn't cool. Among Asians it's the ideal. Are they born with different capacities? No. But they are affected by their cultural expectations and the support they get. And at a vulnerable age when forming identity, what kid would want to be the only or one of few kids of their race in a program? So maybe Howard's goal is to put all kids in honors, to offset that effect.

But, as a parent of a HC kid, I know that a gen ed class can be boring and essentially worthless from an academic standpoint. So the question is: how to meet the needs of kids at many different levels in a single class? Is it even possible? My kid, in a very majority white middle school that abandoned honors in favor of blending, found that the same teacher who'd been great the previous year teaching honors LA had a difficult time with students in the blended class who didn't do the work, didn't show up prepared, and just wanted to screw around. White kids, if it matters. The amount my kid learned was markedly different.

As for feeling guilty, you don't have to feel personal guilt but we need to recognize our privilege in society is real, and that there are real structural issues that have long harmed African Americans in this country. I didn't decide to torture prisoners in Iraq, so I don't feel personal guilt about it, but I am ashamed our nation let it happen, and I will speak out against it and act when I can.


Anonymous said...

Who said anything about taking away advanced learning? HC is a state law and also is a means of addressing specific needs of a protected population.

The problem in SPS is that HCC is comprised of a highly inflated number of demographically similar students who are serviced in a one-size-fits-all delivery

Have you read the articles by the CogAT author about the invalidities that occur when scoring is done in the way of SPS? You get "hot zones" of students who are not highly capable at all, but are simply well prepared. CogAT measures knowledge in a snapshot of time, not fixed ability.

The article you quoted from was from the late 1990s, BTW, and many districts across the country have had years since then of opening their advanced learning to underrepresented students. SPS has not progressed at all, but will now have to in order to comply with state HC law.

If parents decide that their segregated program that excludes many students who should be in the program (and wind up needing a private organization, Rainier Scholars) isn't want they were hoping for...go ahead and go private. That's what private schools are for.

This district is much too crowded to lose any sleep over it. There is a hugely inflated number of students in HC, and way too many of them should not have been qualified in the first place if best practices and the scoring protocol of David Lohman had been followed. That also means that there is a whole contingent of talented students who have not been identified because local norms and sub-group norms were
not used for scoring. This is as much about racial justice as it is about program integrity and validity.


Anonymous said...

FF, you nailed it like Martin Luther.

The district cannot take from one group and give to another. It must maintain the level of education it has been providing to HCC students and continue to bring the other student up in order to close "the gap".

Whether the new Honors for All at Garfield will do that is exactly what we will discover this school year.

This sentence needs explanation.

"You cannot fight the desire of parents to maximize what is best for their kids, especially when we live in an economy whose class structure demands that parents do this."

First of all, egalitarian motives are real and the nations we see with strong education systems do exactly that, sublimate the interest of the individual for that of the society. This ties in with your reference to "class structure".

Are you implying we can't all be successful, that there must be an underclass or at least a lower class and we are engaged in a struggle to stay out that class?

The resulting logical implication is that we must assure that people remain in that lower class.

Do you see where such an argument leads?

bicycle rider

Anonymous said...

I agree with Fauntleroy Father. I also think it is true in North Seattle that HCC students and their families are moving towards something, not away from something. I can't speak for schools in SE or SW Seattle. Diversity is low at Cascadia, but it's higher than at Bryant or Thorton Creek, and it's a pathway to more diversity than Eckstein and Roosevelt offer.

A reminder: SPS set up the system that requires families to opt in the the HCC program by 8th grade if they want access to rigorous curriculum in high school. At the same time they quietly eliminated spectrum, before having an alternative in place to meet the needs of advanced learners. The district is to blame for the capacity crisis at HCC schools, not families.

Reality check: assuming mass exodus doesn't occur, sending HCC students back to their neighborhood schools would require building two additional stories AND an annex at schools with hotspots, like Bryant and Wedgewood. This isn't possible, even if McCleary funding comes through by 2018.

What to do? We need more space, and capacity planning by the district that doesn't use HCC kids as a tool to meet their numbers (SES, diversity, test scores and other).


Anonymous said...

bicycle rider, my view is that racism is linked to our class structure, and if we try to end racism in ways that ignore or reinforce class structures, we're going to fail. I'm not defending our class system and I personally reject the idea that our society must have winners and losers - just as I reject the idea that segregation is good for any child.

But my personal belief isn't enough. I am not actually a defender of HCC. But I see an attack on HCC and on advanced learning itself. I know FWIW says that is not their intent, and I see no reason to doubt that - but this process isn't being driven by FWIW alone. What's happening really is an attack on advanced learning - and so well-intentioned people are simply repeating past mistakes.

If we drive out a bunch of white parents from SPS, I don't see how that helps achieve racial justice. It just recreates the segregation we're all trying to stop. The problem isn't that a Magnolia mom has privilege, it's that she lives in a system in which she's told that if her kid doesn't get the best, most advanced education possible, her kid will struggle to get a good job and build a good future. Even if she agrees that such a system is wrong, she can't simply opt out of it, because those who control the hiring and firing and who make the laws and have all the money believe that's how our society should be structured.

So we have to make that work for us. You want advanced learning for your kid? Great! Let's make sure it's available to every child, equitably, and find ways to get those black and brown and immigrant kids the advanced learning they need but currently aren't getting.

Rather than advanced learning for none, we need advanced learning for all, but Garfield isn't doing that because they are deliberately downplaying academics, which is a fatal flaw to their well-intentioned plan.

Fauntleroy Father

Melissa Westbrook said...

Fauntleroy Father makes good points. And my point is that there is more than one way to get to what the 100 Black Parents want.

For example, if kids of color need a critical mass - say, a cohort - in Honors and AP classes, there's got to be a way to convince more of them to enroll. Offer supports, even bribes for them to see that it could be really great for those who want to try.

But, if your goal is balanced out with racial justice, then that option wouldn't really work. That's why this Honors for All has a dishonest cast to it.

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

n--- I just had to respond to your grouping & assumptions of all people who check the white box. It's not really your fault and I think you are trying to be senstitive. However, people don't come from a unified background as far as class or ethnicity even within the "white" box. In fact not all people who check the white box are of "European" descent or have white skin either. Amemenian people, N African people, Mediteranean people etc. In addition, some groups of immigrants who came to the US just a generation or so ago have a complex racial/ethnic history in the US and actually became to be considered white in the US recently. Their ancestry and generational wealth cannot be compared to some affluent White Anglo Saxon Protestants who may have passed along generational wealth, had higher levels of education for generations & held privileged jobs for generations. There are many gray categories that can affect people's status & privilege in society. Generational wealth and class is a big one that influences privilege that seems to be ignored in this discussion. It is not always apparent either just by looking at someone you think shares the same background as you.
-it's complex

Melissa Westbrook said...

It's Complex, good points. NO one wants to anyone else to look at them and make assumptions. (This has happened to me; I even had one guy challenge my background.)

Anonymous said...

"But, if your goal is balanced out with racial justice, then that option wouldn't really work."

What can this possibly mean?


NESeattleMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melissa Westbrook said...

NESeattleMom, well, to be clear - if you are white, it's an advantage. At least that's what I believe (and I think the evidence is there.)

So black people (and other people of color in this country which DOES include those of Asian backgrounds as well as Native Americans who can make a huge claim on what happened to them) do not start at the same start line as other people.

But again, it doesn't help any discussion to believe/assume that any group of people have the same backgrounds, incomes, education, faiths, etc.

Anonymous said...

Well, if we have a mass exodus from HCC (personally, I don't know of one single kid taking the plunge despite all these threats over the years) where will they go? If the mantra: general ed just didn't work for my gifted kid means they can't or won't go back to their neighborhood school or a public option school, then there will have to be private school options. Guess what? Private schools are even more packed than public. Rather, they are as packed as they want to be. Lakeside takes very few students, a couple high schoolers from HCC every year. And the other notable private high schools serve grades 6 - 12, with a very few slots available for all the gifted kids getting the supposed shaft. So, to most people, the notion that you are going to take your marbles and go somewhere else, is neither a threat, nor credible. We are all in this together at some level.


Melissa Westbrook said...

To this topic, Bill Gates talked with WA teacher of the year, Nate Bowling. Mr. Bowling said this:

"He teaches AP Government to 12th graders and—to my surprise—AP Human Geography to 9th graders. I wondered if it was risky, holding students who often can’t read at their grade level to the high standards of an AP class. But Nate doesn’t see it that way.

“I can't teach the class like I would to a group of kids who were all on grade level, but those kids can achieve,” he said. “My principal and I have an understanding. We’re not concerned about kids passing the AP exam. We just want them to learn. I would rather have 100 percent of the kids in the most difficult class and have 25 pass the AP test, than have 25 kids in it and 100 percent pass.”

"I can't teach the class I would like to if they were on all the same grade level.." I note the use of the word "like."

I appreciate Mr. Bowling noting the difference who is in the class makes AND that he's just talking about academics.

I had to smile at this from Gates:

"I certainly agree that those of us who live in the suburbs by and large don’t see what’s going on in inner-city schools. It’s like two different worlds."

Yes, I guess you could call Medina "a suburb" of sorts.


Anonymous said...

FF, you said white, well off parents might leave SPS with this effort (if seen as an attack on HCC) and the result will be segregation. But itsn't that what we have now? This city is getting richer and is pretty white already. The poor are moving out. We aren't gaining more blacks and Latinos compare to Tukwila, Federal Way or Highline. I don't think Magnolia mom needs to worry too much about being left out if she's college educated, have good health plan, live in a nice SF home in Magnolia because her kids are already ahead with good, safe neighborhood and in schools with well funded PTA and booster clubs. She might FEEL the competition and FEEL like she's been left behind. (I do hear this fear. It's a real emotional hit. The media might have people believe, if you are poor and classified in a certain category, you'll jump the queue, just like the rich and connected. If you look at overall US student loan debt, college graduation rate and job earnings and those who drop out, the stats might reassure Magnolia mom, her kids will still have a better chance in the job market and life outcome.)

another reader

Lori said...

reader may not know any HCC kids that have left for private school in the last few years, but I know many. Not that that matters or indicates much of anything. With an on-going capacity crisis, SPS has little interest in trying to maintain or attract these students any more.

The irony, of course, is that HCC has acted like a magnet for a long time, keeping white families in the district who may have gone private otherwise. I don't have the numbers handy, but it's been discussed here before. HCC and the city of Seattle are more similar with respect to demographics than is SPS and the city of Seattle. Some posters here want HCC to mirror the district's demographics, and while of course HCC has significant work to do to increase diversity, the thing no one asks about is why do the demographics of SPS not reflect that of the larger city? Why doesn't general ed in SPS better represent the city's demographics? Why is it okay that so many general ed families go private? If we had enough capacity, I'd want the district to be working to change that.

Finally, reader mentioned Lakeside not being able to take more HCC kids than it does now. You may be interested to learn that Lakeside is investigating opening a "microschool" in central Seattle within the next couple of years. Could be a great option for all sorts of kids, HCC or not.

That's All said...

. "If they chose AP classes, many of their black friends would accuse them of trying to be white. And in the AP classes, some/many of their white classmates considered them "one of the good ones", which was insulting and made them feel complicit in anti-black racism. The AP black students also reported feeling pressure to be the perfect representation of their race. Unintended consequences"

An experienced administrator had the same concerns. I look forward to FWIW's response.

I consider those in the top 95% to be advanced learners, and advanced learning is being dismantled. Higher level students are being used to teach lower level students. That is the reality.

I believe Garfield is misleading individuals into believing "Honors for All".

I see hair splitting between the needs of top 98% and 95%. The class will be taught to those in the middle.

Anonymous said...

Middle class families will leave for the suburbs; wealthy families will go private. More private schools will open- it is such a lucrative business. We'll end up like SF, with a 1/3rd lower city-wide poverty rate and a 63% FRL rate in the schools(compared to our current 38% rate). The cheap to educate children leave, and then just the expensive to educate kids are left, and they get even less. I agree that some of needing advanced learning classes can be attributed to coming from stable, education friendly, often middle class and above homes(or at least not being negatively impacted by poverty). I think we need to educate those children, too. And I agree with Fauntleroy Father- we can and should leverage that to give disadvantaged kids a leg up and a path out of the cycle of poverty. But to do that you need to be able to achieve in some areas, which means advanced level classes.

I also have been thinking that it is sloppy to just call this black and white. SPS is 16% black, but also 16% Asian, and white students are not the majority. There is racism, but it is different than the 70's era problem and requires different solutions. I have lived in an actual segregated district (and through integration), and this is not very similar at all.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Lori. I was just thinking along the same lines.

We've heard it's a "concern" that SPS is losing 25-30% of its students to private, we've heard it's a concern that SPS can't retain high achieving students of color.

What I wonder is what is the total percentage of the SPS student population that is so fed up with the inadequate Gen Ed schools not providing AL so they are trying to get in to HCC, out of district schools or private? That number would be interesting.

Among other things, families care about academic rigor, access to enrichment opportunities, and welcoming/supportive schools. There is a lack of equity in all three of these areas for too many Seattle families.


Anonymous said...

About 25%-30% of Seattle students attend private school. That rate has been steady since Seattle's 197O school busing history. That says a lot for progressive Seattle. Here's a teacher's version of that history of white flight.


Today, there are many reasons parents opt for public-private education as presented here:


Among HCC parents, Lakeside appears to be the loadstone for HS. But for others, there are many good options with the Catholic and independent schools. For the HC outliers though, taking on line classes, UW Early Entrance, Running Start and homeschooling fill the gap better.

another reader

Anonymous said...

Maybe we should instead call it "bright flight"....

Sad State

Anonymous said...


"White" has a much broader coverage than you may realize.

"White" may also refer to someone of Hispanic ethnicity. There are White, Native American, Asian and Black Hispanics. While some people may find checking off the race and ethnicity box on forms a simple matter, identity is much more complicated for Hispanics, who are more likely to identify with their country of origin rather than U.S. organization's imposed definitions of race.

Hispanic may also refer to those Europeans from Portugal or Spain.

Matters become even more complicated when you consider that most Hispanics are Mestizos(mixed European and indigenous) due to colonization by the Spaniards. Due to these complications in identify, often race is not checked off at all on government forms and I've had friends vigorously assert why none of the race categories are the right fit.

In HCC or any other program, there's potential to be an undercount of identified Hispanics.

Furthermore, origin can be obscured through many factors including marriage, adoption or not checking off the box saying what language you speak at home.


Anonymous said...

I think the most concerning part about the Garfield and 100 Black Parent's meeting is that the parents weren't offered any plan or solutions for their ongoing concern about harsh discipline. Kudos to the parents for taking the initiative to form their own group and set priorities, but why hasn't the equity-focused district stepped in to help Principal Howard, who freely admits he doesn't have any solutions?


Anonymous said...

Perhaps we shouldn't give the district any good ideas. Suppose they shut down the cohort except for 2 or 3 hundred outliers. If just half the HCC kids left for private or other districts there would be over 2000 seats opened up, gened parents(and let's admit we're outnumbered almost 20 to 1) would be ecstatic, I know the Eaglestaff area gened community is frothing about the cohort taking up "their" space.

It's been said HCC is used for capacity management. Destroying the current cohort model would dramatically help overcrowding if parents leave in high enough numbers.

three more

n said...

You said European. I don't know what "light skin" means. There are dark-skinned Irish, Italians, Spanish, Indian, Pakistani,etc. And in the US, Latinos can be light skinned or dark skinned. To me,that's irrelevant.

So, are speaking of skin color or race/ethnicity?

n said...

@Its complex...
Good Lord, I just read your email. This should be directed at NESMom who switched from European to light-skinned. Of course skin color is a separate issue from "Europeans." I don't know how you went from my post to "checking boxes" so I don't know how to respond.

Perhaps you could quote from my post what has caused your response? Or exactly how your point differs from mine. What do you think about the legacy of slavery as it impacts us today? That would be more helpful to me.

Jet City mom said...

I havent read through this thread yet, but I wanted to share my condolences for Joe Blands family and friends, and to the Garfield Community.
He will be missed.

Anonymous said...

I hope we can all support increased access to academic rigor, enrichment opportunities, and a welcoming/supportive atmosphere at GHS. Some people have written about how they won't send their kids to GHS because of Honors for All. For my family, the opposite is true. We visited GHS, found the school within a school atmosphere toxic, and chose to send our kid elsewhere. The proposed changes and Honors for All at GHS would bring us back to our neighborhood school. -Capitolhill Parent

Lynn said...

Capitolhill Parent,

There are very few schools in Seattle that serve students with as wide a range of academic achievement as Garfield and do not offer separate honors classes. These schools are enrolling tiny numbers of highly capable students.

2015-16 Enrollment

Chief Sealth 10 HC students
Franklin 7 HC students
Nathan Hale 18 HC students

Did your children attend one of these schools or a school that enrolls an homogenous student body?

Anonymous said...

Lynn, is there any evidence that untested students are also highly capable?


Lynn said...

No there is no evidence that untested students are highly capable. Students cannot be determined to be highly capable unless they participate in cognitive testing administered by the district.

Anonymous said...

But the cognitive testing by the district is flawed, as multiple posters have pointed out....
-Capitolhill Parent

Anonymous said...

There isn't evidence because evidence requires data... which comes from testing. Sure, sometimes HC students get missed, maybe because they opt out of testing, they simply don't know about the test, or they have a bad CogAT day (because, yes, district testing is flawed). Catching those missed students is one way to increase diversity in the program. That's why access to screening is important, and one-on-one individual tests are valuable as a second instrument when parents or teachers feel the first result isn't representative of their child's ability.

Also keep in mind that HC doesn't mean bright kids who have the potential to do school well. I do believe Honors for All will identify more of those bright children and will keep them from falling through the cracks. HC is different though. It's a designation that indicates a different way of processing information and learning. The state has determined that these children need certain interventions in education. Honors was one way Garfield accommodated these students; it is unclear if Honors for All will end up being an appropriate accommodation.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Curious, I'm not sure I understand your question but if you are asking if there are gifted kids across all races, yes, there is. And we aren't finding them and serving them. Honors for All may or may not be the way to find them. I personally think there are better ways but again, is this about more kids of color having higher level classes or having fewer mostly white/Asian classes? I don't know.

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Jet City,

Thank you for your post about Mr. Joseph Bland. He was a beautiful person and one of the finest educators in every sense of the word, that I have ever known.

Anonymous said...

"HC is different though. It's a designation that indicates a different way of processing information and learning."

This is incorrect. SPS HC testing is based entirely on academics/cognitive. You are defining gifted, which I have pointed out already is not what the HCC program in Seattle is about.

Also, I continue to find it absolutely stunning that all of these well-educated HCC parents totally avoid and deny that the AUTHOR OF COGAT would not have qualified many of your children for HC because they are not considered highly capable by his own scoring definition.

You are quibbling over whether there should be an Honors for All when, in fact, your entire program is based on an invalid scoring mechanism.

This is a textbook edition of The Emperor Has No Clothes. Until the same people who are into protecting the purity of the program admit and lobby the district to actually score the test correctly, you have no credibility.

These are the same people who jump to the attack when any district policy or nuance is violated.

Yet, the test scoring is totally invalid and set up to allow your demographic to over-qualify. The district also allows multiple testings outside of school, which also creates biased results. Neighboring districts use 1 percent as a shortcut to remove the testing bias. They also do not allow outside testing because of the invalidity.

Lori and others who are clearly statistically trained, what about concentrating on this rather than talking about how the district is losing these "bright kids" to private schools? Many of them couldn't have qualified on their own merits. Well prepared for school? Plenty of enrichment? Sure. Academic savants? Until the scoring is valid, we can't say.

Lynn, there are plenty of students who are not in HCC who should have qualified. The proof: Rainier Scholars. BTW, are you lobbying the district to start using the CogAT author's testing protocol instead of one that creates a proven bias toward your demographic? Are you willing to get your test results rescored to see if they were invalid results? You have focused on every detail for years to protect HCC but have remained strangely silent about this huge elephant in the room.

All of you would be screaming to the school board and the media if these invalid results did not absolutely favor your children. Whatever you say about protecting this program rings hollow with no credibility as long as you continue to deny basic testing invalidity.


Another Name said...

There is no reason to believe that FWIW is any type of an expert.


Anonymous said...

I'm not an expert, and that's the sad part. This is basic information.

From the booklet you just referenced:

Advantages of Local Norms
The primary limitation of national norms is that they do not take into account local variations in ability or achievement. Policies that require all students in a school system or state to attain the same level of excellence on a nationally normed test can be problematic: such criteria result in some schools without any students served by a talent development program and other schools in which a substantial portion of the student population is labeled “gifted.”


Melissa Westbrook said...

I will point out that I have never heard the district use the word "gifted" (unlike many other districts that do call their programs "Gifted and Talented.")

Anonymous said...

That is because HCC is not a gifted program. Some districts simply don't label their programs correctly, but others do intentionally try and create gifted programs, which involves a very different identifying and programming system.

Notice how Lohman put the word gifted in quotes. His test measures talent, but he has made it clear in his writing that he knows how his test is distored for mis-labeling purposes.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lori said...

FWIW, I've barely participated on this blog this summer, and I'm not part of any effort that's fighting for or against what's happening at Garfield. It's certainly not up to me to decide what HCC parents should or should not be concentrating on!

In 2012, though, I did post here and on the APP blog about the potential value of local norms and asked if the advanced learning task force at that time was considering them. During my student's tenure in elementary APP, there were actually 2 different district task forces on Advanced Learning! I have no idea if either discussed local norms or if they critically evaluated their use of CogAT. Maybe someone from those task forces could weigh in or be asked by Melissa or Charlie?

I do get where you are coming from and agree on some points. HCC is a program that contains many gifted children. It does not contain all of them, nor are all of the HCC students truly outliers who cannot be served at their local schools. If you drew a Venn diagram, the circles for HCC and gifted would overlap, but not completely. So what's the answer? I don't know. I think that's what those two task forces were supposed to suss out!

Having had a primary grade student whose asynchrony relative to age-mates was severe enough to require professional help and whose anxiety and depression lifted after going to Lowell, however, I do take the social and emotional needs of gifted children very seriously. I wish more parents would speak up about those issues, I wish there weren't stigma around talking about mental health, and I wish all of the teachers, Board members, and other parents who I shared my story with over the years would take it to heart and remember that there are families out there fighting for services just as much, and perhaps more, for their kid's mental health than academic need. Those are the HCC kids that I do worry about and whose needs I wish rose to the forefront in all of these conversations. Maybe in some future world, there will be a socio-emotional component to qualification for self-contained HCC. I've never really seen that in the literature, but it makes sense to me to figure out how to include it as a consideration.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lori, Charlie and I were on the first task force. Did we discuss the use of Cogat? Only in broad terms especially around the issue of whether it was the best test to use because of possible cultural issues. Our task force was completely ignored and the district acted like it never existed. I gave up at that point.

What we were supposed to suss out was highly restricted. I'm not even sure I remember what the second task force said.

But the district never listens so it's pretty pointless. Look at what the did to FACMAC.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing how many posts this blog gets on Garfield Honors/HCC versus all other topics combined. Melissa, I think you could sell tickets.

If all of the concerned, pragmatic parents were to contact their school board member, what are the three things you would have them ask for?

As I read the above, I came up with these three:

1. The district needs to clearly articulate what is AL and what is not - program design, curriculum and acceptable variability (schools like Garfield should not be able to determine what AL is and is not)
2. The district needs to assign a team to assess & recommend changes on intake & support systems with a stated goal range on program diversity (eg we think we are missing X,000 kids by having skewed testing)
3. Mandate a freeze on changes to AL programs for one school year to enable #1 above to happen

There are intelligent people on both sides of the discussion. But the way the changes were made were just highly unprofessional. Cap Hill

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Cap Hill.

As to your list:

1. I have told the Board (and the district) for years that this needs to happen. That it has not speaks volumes about how much they truly care about finding these students - all of them - and meeting their needs. I think HCC is sop to parents and keeps them in the district along with their high test scores.

From what I can see, only Directors Peters, Harris and Burke are even vaguely interested.

What is troubling is that the Board thinks it okay to write policy/procedure about a program without clear definitions.

2. Not sure when, if ever, that could happen. There is to be a work session this year but Director Geary said nothing would probably happen this year. No more task forces - the district doesn't care and the Board doesn't listen.

3. Good luck with that.

Cap hill said...

Are those the right three things to do

Anonymous said...

"The district needs to clearly articulate what is AL and what is not - program design, curriculum and acceptable variability (schools like Garfield should not be able to determine what AL is and is not)"

Why shouldn't Garfield make a determination about AL when your own children's scores are invalid? You cannot dictate to schools what their AL program should look like until you lobby the district about having a program that honors testing protocols and basic statistical best practices.

You cannot try to have purity in programming when the entire identification process is invalid. Your attempt to separate from those other kids who aren't up to par is invalid because some of those other kids should be in HCC and many of your children should not. Those are facts.

Saying anything about Garfield at this point rings hollow. Your HCC program has no clothes.


Anonymous said...

The single minded crusade of someone who has read one study on the topic amuses me.

It's Worthless

Another Name said...

I can't imagine FWIW has full knowledge of each child's test scores -in each area. I can't imagine that FWIW has no way of knowing whether or not a child took CoagT or Weschler.

FWIW offers some useful information, but is on a crusade to dismantle advanced education.

I'm still waiting FWIW to discuss needs of advanced learners.

Another Name said...


I can't imagine that FWIW has full information and knows whether a child took CoagT or Weschler. He/she groups every child into the same boat.

Another Name said...

Psychologists that administer Weschler recommend that students in the upper percentiles attend Seattle Country Day and Lakeside- and they do so for a reason.

I'm more interested in hearing from an experienced psychologist in the field than someone that wants to dismantle advanced learning.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think this topic has been exhausted for now so I'll end it here.