Friday Open Thread

Two director community meetings tomorrow:

Director Blanford - Douglass-Truth Library from 10 am to noon
Director Patu - Raconteur from 10 am to 11:30 am

The Seattle Youth Commission is looking for new members.

The Seattle Youth Commission is a group of 15 Seattle teens from all over the city who are appointed by the Mayor and City Council to connect youth to local elected officials, advise on City policies, and discuss issues that youth in Seattle are facing. There is a Youth Commissioner representing each of the seven City Council Districts, as well as eight at-large commissioners. 

Youth Commissioners must be between the ages of 13 - 19.
Applications must be received by July 17, 2017 at 5pm.
Betsy DeVos Watch:

New York Times opinion writer Gail Collins had a quiz - Who's the Worst Cabinet Member and guess who won?  Yup, DeVos.
“It’s hard to be worse than Sessions or Pruitt. But DeVos deals with … children,” wrote a Michigan reader.

DeVos really hates public schools — something you don’t find often in a secretary of education. Her goal seems to be replacing them with charter schools, none of which will need much oversight because, you know, the choice thing.

Many readers noted that our secretary of education does not seem to be … all that bright. (“DeVos is a solid choice based on irony alone.”)
Amazing that anyone could beat Jeff Sessions (Attorney General) or Scott Pruitt (EPA) but DeVos pulled it off. 

Oh, and in case you have some ideas for the Department of Ed, they're looking for them. 
The Department of Education (Department) is seeking input on regulations that may be appropriate for repeal, replacement, or modification.
One of their guidelines for elimination of regulations - impose costs that exceed benefits - might be a tough one to measure but I'm sure many will try.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
Story 4th grader bullying.

Bully story
z said…
Wonderful article on the types of things we should be doing to help underprivileged kids (instead of just beating down the white kids and high achievers).

A Short Exercise In Middle School Sets Minorities On A Path To College

Of course this is one small study, but the results were amazing. Can everyone get on board to champion this kind of support?? Whether or not it scales perfectly everywhere, it seems like a no-brainer, with no downside.
Anonymous said…
Does the District no longer post Friday memos? I would like to see the more recent ones.
Lynn said…
Here's some news from the agenda for next week's school board meeting:

The meeting will start with a work session on Budget, Waitlists and Capacity. This should be of interest to families hoping to see waitlists managed according to board policy rather than the habits of enrollment services personnel.

Proposed new policies on Food Service and Student Nutrition and on Assessment will be introduced.

The assessment policy states that Students who do not participate in district or state assessments for any reason have a right to appropriate learning activities and shall not be subjected to punitive treatment for non-participation. The accompanying procedure states that teachers will Provide learning activities for students who do not participate in an assessment. This should end the days of sitting silently in the office and/or being excluded from school celebrations.

Peggy McEvoy is recommending that the district install school bus stop paddle cameras and use the ticket proceeds ($419 each) to reduce the cost of a two tier transportation system. I found this statement interesting A full equity analysis using the Equity Toolkit was not performed. School bus transportation supports student equity and the district goal of closing the opportunity gap by providing safe student transportation.

I am happy to see the district stating that spending new resources to benefit all students is not inequitable.

The district affirmative action plan is also introduced. The accompanying report compares the SPS workforce to the theoretical availability of females and people of color in the King County workforce.

The results:

People of color are overrepresented in all certificated positions except certificated support personnel (most notably in certificated administrator positions). People of color are highly overrepresented in all classified positions except maintenance positions where they are represented just about equally in the district and the county workforces.

The report states:
Overall, Seattle Public Schools has an employee population of which 32% identify as people of color , which is 8.8% above what would be expected in King County. Although there are still negative differentials present in some job categories, the numbers are showing improvement over recent years.

In certificated jobs, Black or African American and Asian populations are underutilized in Certificated Support Personnel (-2.9% and -4.1% respectively), Black or African Americans are underutilized in Special Education Teachers (- 2.6%), and Asian populations are underutilized in Certificated Administrators (- 5.3%).
Additionally, there is under-representation of:

* Black or African American populations in Maintenance/Crafts;
* Asian population in Security and Transportation;
* Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders in Transportation;
* Hispanic population in Office Personnel, Custodian, and Food preparation;
• American Indian/Alaska Natives in most Classified job groups, in particular Instruction/Teaching Assistants.

On gender analysis:
Seattle Public Schools has a total female employee make up of 67.6%, which is 17.4% higher than would be expected in King County. This is bolstered by a high percentage of females in classified jobs. Despite 72.9% of certificated staff being female, this number still falls behind theoretical availability for King County (77.6%). Specifically, females fall below availability in Special Education Teachers (-16.01%), Elementary/Middle/K-8 Teachers (-5.2%), Preschool/ Kindergarten (-4.5%) and Secondary Teachers (-3.1%) below King County availability.
Female Custodians (-6%) and Instruction/Teaching Assistants (-20.6%) are also below King County levels.

Lynn said…
Here's a link to the Friday Memo webpage.
Anonymous said…
I heard a NH teacher left students unattended on a overnight camping trip. The teacher said they had to return to attended a protest meeting.

Can anyone substantiate this claim?

Lynn said…
That was Noam Gundle at Ballard High School. There's a district report on the investigation somewhere on the website.
Lynn said…
Here it is:
??? That is old news so please don't bring it up again unless there is some current context for doing so.
Anonymous said…
Thanks, I didn't know it happened back in 2015.

Anonymous said…
Is there an annual review process of SPS Principals? What about the new ones to schools? How can parents weigh in? And when does the district tend to move principals around-do they do it now or wait til closer to the start of the school year.

-seattle mom
Seattle Mom, ha, ha, ha. Wait, you aren't kidding? I'm assuming principals are reviewed annually (otherwise, what are the EDs doing?) but ask parents? No. You can write to the district if you want to but your letter will NOT go into the principal's file.
Anonymous said…
@z- Wonderful article that cites real strategies that work for low income/underprivileged kids. Thanks for posting.

- B
Anonymous said…
Wonderful article on the types of things "we SHOULD be doing to help underprivileged kids (instead of just beating down the white kids and high achievers"). Thank you for sharing.

This is just what we've been waiting for! Use some Stuart Smalley daily affirmations (just play his SNL reruns on YouTube frequently to "underprivileged" and, presumably, non-"white" middle schoolers and repeat after me: "I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!") and....voila! we the "privileged" are off the hook once again.

No more need for Rainier Scholars to serve as a counterpoint.

No more having to think about Austina De Bonte's talk at the school board retreat (the gifted specialist who calls the inequity of programs like HCC a "social justice issue"?).

As you all know, we the privileged are the real victims of the system, where they are "just beating down the white kids and high achievers" like us.

Cohorters, this is the research we've been waiting for: The Daily Affirmation approach to getting rid of all these pests. (What, with the Jill Gearys, KUOW broadcasts and massive Seattle community awakening that we've long had our cake and keep eating it, too--it has been a tough year.)

To think it was just so simple all along.

Smalley Scholars
Anonymous said…
Well, it is actually even simpler. Just lower the standards for all.

Least Resistance
Anonymous said…
@ Smalley Scholars, I don't think the self-affirmation intervention is something that needs to be done as a stand-alone effort, but where's the harm in trying to help students feel good about their potential? I also disagree that this is the ideal answer for "letting the privileged off the hook again." To me, it seems to be another justification for detracking and providing a one-size-fits-all education, even when students exhibit a wide range of abilities. (The studies do not appear to have considered data on highly capable children, but people love to use this type of research to generalize and say it proves that everyone does fine when all taught at the same level.)

Yes, Austina De Bonte did say this is a social justice issue. But to be clear, it's not the existence of HC programs that's the problem, but rather the fact that students who need these services are often denied them. Your post has an anti-HCC feel to it, so you may have missed some of the other comments from De Bonte that clearly support HC services:

Highly Capable funding has not been prioritized...because most people believe that HiCap students will turn out alright in the end, regardless of whether they were well served at school. This is a faulty assumption; in actuality, HiCap students have marked challenges insocial and emotional development, delayed development of executive function, and are at significant risk of
not developing grit or growth mindset if school is always “easy” for them.

HiCap programs are a vital “whole child” intervention for vulnerable students who would likely not be successful with a conventional approach. Hence, we need to proactively seek out EVERY child who needs that intervention, in order to best
support students’ long term outcomes.

By Golly
Anonymous said…
By Golly,

I am pro-HC. The obvious inequities in HCC demographics that have been rationalized for years by those who benefit or have benefitted include: Seattle is just so smart and that's why there are hardly any black students; those poor kids have been poisoned and they lost IQ points; poor kids can't be as intrisically smart as our kids because they haven't been given enough "learning" at home, etc. Another favorite is that there are just so many highly educated people in Seattle, so therefore, of course, they would have most of the gifted kids. I wish I were making this up.

There has largely been a collective silence about the research that Augustina De Bonte cited. She stated that students from all demographics are gifted and that certain ones don't own giftedness. Gifted/HC services are not a prize but a necessity, and many students in SPS continue to suffer because the identification favors specific demographics and excludes many other.. The silence is likely because just about everything De Bonte said and all the best research turns HCC on its head.

M.W. blamed the principal at T.M. before cutting off a prior thread, which is utterly absurd. De Bonte made it clear that cut-off scores should never determine acceptance into gifted program (and SPS does just that in both cognitive and achievement). She also states that students should only be compared to their own demographic and experiences if districts insist on using test scores.

Even if Katie May nominates every student in the building for testing, the built-in
biases of the tests and lack of correct scoring would prohibit almost all of the eligible gifted students from being identified, due to SPS process.

This is a "social justice issue" and that's why it has an "HCC feel to it". Given the stark inequities, why is anyone still defending HCC as is?

Smalley Scholars
Anonymous said…
Smalley Scholars,

You seem like you're spoiling for a fight with your straw man arguments.

Why don't you do something positive to help instead.

You could volunteer time or provide snacks to Summer Staircase or start a First Lego League team in a neighborhood with a Title 1 school or donate time or money to a food bank.

Do something, other than trolling, to demonstrate your sincere devotion to the cause.

Anonymous said…
You won't find ME defending HCC as it is. Part of the problem is that it's not really a gifted program. As you noted, gifted students who don't meet the achievement cut-offs are generally excluded (unless they are included under special consideration). However, in some ways that may make sense, since the curriculum/program is also not tailored to the needs of gifted students but is instead almost purely based on acceleration (doing things a grade or two earlier) to reflect high past achievement and readiness.

For a true gifted program you'd want both a different curriculum and different eligibility criteria. SPS's current HCC is more of a "high achievers program" (with plenty of gifted students included in it and likely ill-served), and both the curriculum and eligibility are largely achievement-based. The problem is that eligibility criteria and programs/curricula need to be aligned--the services need to be appropriate or the population being served. If we ID based on giftedness and NOT achievement, we need a program that doesn't rely so heavily on past achievement. If we continue to identify based on achievement, we're going to miss some gifted kids--unless we add services designed to help identify these kids and provide the extra services they need in order to boost their achievement to the point at which they can more easily transition to HCC services.

However, while you're correct that giftedness occurs in students from all demographics, there's no evidence that giftedness occurs at the SAME RATE in all demographic groups. In fact, there's evidence that it doesn't. That's because environment and genetics DO both play a role in brain development and the expression of giftedness. Some of your comments are odd. I don't recall anyone ever making the argument that "Seattle is just so smart and that's why there are hardly any black students"--I don't even see how that makes sense. Your other comments also don't reflect the research. There ARE certain things that have been shown to lower IQ, and many of those things disproportionately affect poor kids (e.g., lead poisoning). It's also--unfortunately--true that poor children tend to receive fewer learning opportunities in early childhood (e.g., not read to as much, not exposed to as many words through speech, decreased access to quality preschool, etc.), and limited exposures are not likely to maximize brain development. I don't understand what's so shocking or controversial about that, why those ideas are so appalling to you. The disparities that result from these factors are disturbing, I agree, but it would be a mistake to deny that these environmental factors are part of the equation. If we deny their contribution to the reality we face, it will be more challenging to address the disparities we see down the road.

By Golly
Anonymous said…
@ Smalley Scholars--- Stop twisting Austina's comments and stop the bullying attitude ("cohorters") and leave the kids who test into HCC alone. WOW. They are not creating a social justice issue. Your target is SPS identification process as well as poverty, not the kids who need the services. By Golly has it correct.
Anonymous said…
Hopefully SPS will fix the racial imbalance in the HCC.

I don't think it's good for the white and asian kids to be so insulated. One of the great things about Seattle is the diversity.

Sure, a few schools are as white as the HCC, but very few and the district could gerrymander more diversity into those schools also.

There are o many ways SPS could fix this problem, but they keep dancing around it. I'd like to know why.

Lynn said…
At 70% white, Seattle is one of the least diverse large cities in the country.
Anonymous said…
But there are only two(2) black kids at Cascadia, out of 600.

I think anybody coming to Seattle from suburbs of Wash., Oregon or California finds Seattle diverse.

The point is that the HCC is very short on black kids. Everyone knows that's a big equity problem and the district refuses to do anything other than kick the can down the road.

"More referrals" "more screening" "more outreach". But they refuse to to just put more brown kids into the cohort, to norm the tests locally, to use affirmative action, or, shut the program down and make a real gifted program for kids who are actually outliers.

Having a self-contained program with 15-20 or 25 or 30 per cent of students from some schools and zero from others is so, so wrong. It's disgraceful, is what it is.

The district should be ashamed. Some are, but not the deciders, apparently.

Anonymous said…
I would love to leave HCC to the outliers, but SPS has eliminated all programs for the plain and simple high achievers, who are a much larger group of students, that need appropriate acceleration of curricula. Simple grade advancement would solve much of this problem without causing racial imbalances in classrooms.

SPS will not do this either because it might bring high national test scores down a little bit. What they don't know is that the national test monopolies regress scores to the mean through grading strategies to keep the states relatively balanced already. We'd be fine.

Other options.
Anonymous said…
Grade advancement would help all those late blooming, "advanced", red shirted kids.
Other options
Anonymous said…
Grade-level advancement doesn't help kids who learn more quickly, as the pace is just as slow even if the material is a grade-level above average. And highly gifted kids might end up even more socially isolated--not only do they often have very different interests, but they'd also be a year younger--that much more of a misfit. They need an opportunity to be with other kids who "get" them.

Grade-level advancement might be a decent option for more typical kids who need an extra challenge, but it doesn't seem like a great options for the most intellectually gifted students. Outliers need a reasonable option, too--and an "outlier" program needs to be large enough that students still have sufficient academic and social opportunities.


Anonymous said…
Yes, grade advancement for academically advanced students. And a smaller gifted program for outliers with progressive curriculum advancement and depth.

Other Options

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