Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Seattle School Board Meeting, December 6, 2017 - Part One

Here's what I wrote in the normal "Seattle Schools This Week" about the Board agenda for December 6th:

It's a relatively light agenda and that's probably good, given there are two new Board members.  

And yet, the Board took that "light" agenda and turned it into over six hours for the meeting.   

The meeting was notable for several reasons.
One, normally most Board members, unless laughing at something, have somewhat of a poker face.  There is generally not much in terms of body language.
But at this meeting there was sighing, hand signals, irritation in tone of voice, and at least one case of interrupting ( a fairly big faux pas for Board meetings - directors are generally courteous and wait for another director to finish speaking before talking).

Two, some real jockeying for executive board posts - president, vice-president and member-at-large.  Again, not something you see a lot.

Three, the number of times it was pointed out how long the meeting was going and yet a couple of members chose to go long on remarks.  Ditto (as per usual) for the Superintendent.  

Four, the number of directors who seemed to have done little homework on a topic before them, namely, HCC and other programs/services in high schools.  It was fascinating to listen to the debate when clearly some directors really don't know a lot of what's out there.

Five, on the other hand, we have some stellar Board members who did their homework and checked staff on a BEX issue.  I was clapping as I viewed the video on that one.  

In this Part One, I'll just do a brief highlight reel of issues and topics and then, in Part Two, get to the meat of the meeting.

The Board elections
Well, that was uncomfortable.  Director Geary ran against Director Harris, with Harris prevailing 4-3.  I have no problem with a contest but Director Geary set a tone for the evening with remarks about "what we do versus goals we agree on" and " staff may make choices to please us as individuals and we need to talk about it."  Do I know exactly what she was referencing?  I do not but clearly there's some kind of issue.

Director DeWolf nominated Director Geary and again, set the pace for his work that night, clearly aligning himself with her to the point of seeming to look to her for guidance on topics.  His nominating speech was a bit odd, given it was more about him than her.  It was unclear to me what qualities he saw in her that made him nominate her.

Director Pinkham stated that between the two of them, "there is no wrong vote."

Director Burke was then nominated for VP and got a unanimous vote.

But then, for member-at-large, Geary was again nominated and won, 6-1.  The single vote against her was Director Pinkham who pointed out that he had said he would run and no one else said they were running.  He said this was a second try at the office and he hadn't won yet.  Geary lamely tried to prop him up by saying she had thought it brave of him, in his first year, to have run for Board president and she was trying to emulate that.

Public testimony (which didn't start until an hour and half into the meeting - way too late)

There were two absolutely outstanding student speakers from Cleveland High School, representing their school's publication team, Jay Kent and Tina Dang.  Mr. Kent spoke from the speakers' mic and Ms. Dang was on the dais with the Board.  Given how polished and professional they were in their speaking, I am not surprised that their school publications are winning awards, both locally and nationally.  They spoke about the support they received from the teacher who supports their work, Teresa Scribner, who I note just won a Heroes in the Classroom award.  I predict big things for these two students.

In another stellar performance, there was Ballard High student, Avery Wagar, who was so calm and self-assured in his speaking that it was hard to believe he's only in high school. He spoke about the boundaries for Ballard High.

The speakers either spoke on:
  • boundaries
  • the BEX item for technology in school (all in favor of)
  • HCC (and, for once, one speaker Cause Haun, actually spoke about ways to make the program better, not just about breaking it up).  Some of the speakers against HCC seemed to think they knew all the reasons parents had their students in HCC which is amazing given the district doesn't even know.  One speaker even said the nation's schools were more segregated than in the '70s (and that's HCC's fault)?  Hard to follow that reasoning. One parent suggested that HCC students in 8th grade and in current HCC pathways should be grandfathered.  I hadn't considered what new boundaries might mean for current students but if everyone isn't grandfathered at their current high school, then I would say no one should be.
  • RBHS students speaking against Green Dot charter school and what its impacts would be on their school 
Board Comments (partial)

Patu said Rainier Beach High School is always the "last school to get anything."

Pinkham said that the continuing appearance of RBHS parents, staffs and students makes him believe that "they are focusing on community to create education" and he believes that is crucial and should be supported.

Geary decided - despite the fact that the topic was coming up - to speak about "the high school issue."  She said when she ran for the Board that she said she wanted to be " careful about labels and excluding and pushing to include HC Kids’ makes me so nervous that we have invested so much energy and identity in these labels.” If your kid gets the label, what does the kid who doesn’t, where do they belong and we are all responsible, we all use that language and it’s detrimential to both sides of the equation."

There are many things I could say to those statements but I'll defer it to Part Two.

She continued:

Are they bottom or the class or really HCC? Others who are bored and need more but couldn’t get the label?

She concluded:

“When you talk to me, be careful of your weddedness to labels around students."  

Just to note that one thing that Director Geary never says is that one of her own children was in HCC.  I'm not sure what their experience was but I believe it was longer than a year so I would suppose it worked for their family.  At the time.  But now it's against her belief system.

All of this took two and a half hours and the district had to (yes, really) change the videotape.

Agenda items (partial)

One item was the spending for "classroom technology" up to $1M.  This was one place where a line of questioning from a couple of directors really stood out.  (To note; we elect directors for different talents - no one director is great at all things so I don't mean this as a slam against other directors.)

Director Burke pointed out that the PO versus BAR amount with PO amount being smaller. Deputy Legal Council Cerqui explained that it gives John Krull’s Technology team “flexibility."  The PO amount is just under $600K while the BAR says "up to $1M".  Upon hearing Burke's question, my notes reflect that my immediate thought to that "up to $1M" was that it’s "a slush fund."

Burke continued to a larger concern with how SPS is implementing tech elements. He sees the "immediate benefit but we don’t have a systemic theory of action and I have asked about that."  He suggested an oversight committee like the one for BEX since tech is getting bigger.

Krull said he like that idea of oversight or taskforce and and that they do currently discuss that at BEX Oversight Committee meetings.  As someone who has attended these meetings, tech is NOT in the wheelhouse of the members of the Committee.  We need real experts for this oversight.

One key point here for directors is that teaching and learning come first, not just "let's buy some computers."  The BAR reflects that.

But Director Mack chimed in saying that she'd like to see the overall picture -
What do we have in schools now and what are gaps? I need a picture who doesn’t have carts. Where is the need greatest? 

Krull admitted that he had the same question (he has been here about a year).  But oddly, he said that staff has a map and chart of the needs.  And yet, oddly, it's not in the BAR nor was it sent to directors. 

Director Patu asked about how the choice gets made of who gets what?  Krull said there were two rollouts for blended learning and middle school science with an "application process with an equity lens based on need and readiness."    

New president Harris then said this:
Amplify science for middle school may be the best thing since sliced bread. However, given the way that this is being rolled out. Not a formal curriculum adoption.We need a thoughtful deep-dive discussion with Kinoshita. She said she was "Worried about mission creep and we can vote a million dollars and I can’t sleep at night. She said she knows there is good intent but we "don’t have technology plan with pedagogy." 

Kyle Kinoshita, head of Curriculum and Instruction, said other districts do have multi-year plans for use of technology in the classroom, noting Denver SD as an example.  He said SPS needs more "parallel planning."  

I find it interesting that the heads of these departments agree with directors and yet make no firm statements on progress in that direction or timeline.  Indeed, Burke stated that a timeline would help.

Director Mack she did not like the "squish room" in the BAR.  She said the PO was clear.

Director DeWolf then went thru a couple of clarifying question and said in terms of Mack's comment, that he "presumed staff was using best judgment" and continued, "I feel comfortable that you are doing this in the best interest of the district."

I like that vote of confidence from him for staff but frankly, in this case, I find it weird.  There's an obvious written disconnect in the BAR with dollars, it's pointed out and he just gives staff a pass?  He must be new; oh right, he is.

Then Cerqui and Krull debated numbers and said $650K would be fine.  DeWolf chimed in about "the limitation we are setting" but Krull said it was fine.  Pinkham pointed out that they are not limiting what voters voted on in BEX IV for technology.

Patu worried that the new amount "would not cover it" but Krull said it would for the pilot. Harris again worried outloud that Amplify science was NOT adopted as curriculum and that this seemed like the cart before the horse.

At this point, a man came up and spoke off mic with Krull.  I didn't recognize him and I found it off-putting that he didn't introduce himself because I'd bet some of the directors didn't know either.  (He did this twice during the meeting.)

The BAR then passed unanimously with the noted change.

The next BAR was on new technology for staff and Krull noted that "this amount is more correct than the last."  Except that again, the BAR had one figure - $5.1M - and the PO had another - $3.4M.

Krull said that they are working on giving each SEA employee a computer bag with the SPS logo on it so "some little costs might go above." Computer bags are that expensive?

But the directors let that one go and the BAR passed.

Next was the Student Transition Plan and that will be in Part Two of this thread.


NNE Mom said...

Geary makes no sense on the HC issue. The state requires the district to identify these children. And these children are human beings with educational needs, so it is appropriate for parents and teachers and principals and staff and school board directors to discuss these children.

You don't have to say the G word to talk about them, but some people are going to have to talk about them using some words, especially their parents and teachers and people involved with making decisions about them at the district level. While you can avoid the G word, you don't absolutely have to. As Paula Prober points out at the link below, it can be a huge relief to a student to discover the G word in addition to the other labels the student has given themselves (weirdo, alien, nerd, crybaby, loner, freak, crazy):

Although "gifted" is the clinical term used in psychology, education and in the medical field, parents should seriously consider avoiding using this term with teachers and with director Geary. (Also consider avoiding use of the terms "bored," "you," "skip" and "gap.")

Here are some tips on how parents of gifted kids can talk to teachers:

And here are some tips for gifted kids themselves for advocating on their own with their teachers (many teachers will be less hostile to students self-advocating for their own needs than they will be to their parents)

It's funny that this is particularly an issue with director Geary who has an HC child. Although she does have five children. When families have one or more child considered HC by the schools and also one or more child not considered HC by the schools, this can contribute to sibling rivalry within the family. And many families who have both HC-identified children AND non-HC-identified children will have empathy for that. But at the same time, this is a legal category of student that there are state laws about, education laws. There are legal and educational and education law reasons why we have to discuss these children. And as an education lawyer and school board director, Ms. Geary ought to understand that.

Anonymous said...

Geary apparently had a child in IBX at Ingraham, but she lives in Laurelhurst so I don't believe it would have been the neighborhood school. I have no idea why she would enroll her child in the program if she was so adverse. In conversations with her I also got the impression she viewed all HC parents and students the same, especially if she thought you were white, and coming from the same background etc. She had no idea of our economic situation, nor of HC kids we know who come from single parent households and are FRL.

Anonymous said...

Geary knows first hand that a large percentage of the students in AP are not gifted in an academic sense. The truth is there are very few gifted students and most go unidentified.

Tutored up does not equal gifted. Sprinkle a little spectrum with lazer focus and many people wrongly believe the child is gifted. I say a child that is incapable of empathy is a long way away from gifted.

Being able to read and regurgitate text at verbatim is not gifted. Perhaps it's time for the state to step up and remove all the ambiguity of the term HCC, but we know it's not a gifted term nor is the state or it's agents capable or prepared to provide for the gifted.

It seems the state is much too busy trying to convince children that their gender is between their ears.

The patients have taken over the asylum. I can't wait for the first lawsuit over gender confusion.

Thank Geary

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank Geary, hard to know what to do with your comment.

On the one hand, you insult children and I have a very big bias against that.

"I say a child that is incapable of empathy is a long way away from gifted."

On the other hand, you seem quite certain of your beliefs with absolute no evidence to back them up. And therefore, your comment seems like blather.

Readers, what say you? Should I delete?

Anonymous said...

Don't confuse social anxiety with lack of empathy the two are completely different things. Social anxiety is very common in gifted children. Another known distinct characteristic of truly gifted mind is self doubt.

A gifted person will think they did poorly on a task but a highly trained learner will assume they ace every task. The assumption of perfection is arrogance a sure sign of a tutored up mind, that trait rarely exist in the gifted.

The truth is many so called "gifted" students are just average in district full of low achievers. Google it and you might learn something.

Thank Geary

Jan said...

Nah. My vote (for what it is worth Melissa -- it's your blog) is leave it. Deleting blather is not a blog rule. And while insulting kids is against blog rules -- the insult is so "stray," so disconnected from anything that came before or after, that it actually serves more as a useful reminder of what kinds of remarks can be insulting (though harmless, because they are so off topic) than it does as an actual condemnation of the empathetic qualities of gifted children (most of the ones I know having been among the more compassionate, empathetic kids I have ever met).

I would save your deletion fire power for the far nastier comments that occasionally show up here -- so that deleting them doesn't lose its power to condemn the truly meanspirited (or worse) -- as opposed to grumpy blatherers.

Anonymous said...

My only comment is that I wish "Thank Geary" would pick that as their moniker and keep it for the duration of their time on this blog. I've been a reader and occasional commenter since the blog's early days and I haven't changed my moniker yet. I think it helps maintain some integrity to the comments.

Some of us want anonymity because of our professional lives. I don't want someone who googles me to find every social media comment I have ever written regardless of the content of the comment. I just want them to find my professional stuff first.

So, Thank Geary, welcome to the blog—if you are indeed someone new.

Solvay Girl

Anonymous said...

"Krull said there were two rollouts for blended learning and middle school science with an "application process with an equity lens based on need and readiness."


Kyle Kinoshita, head of Curriculum and Instruction, said other districts do have multi-year plans for use of technology in the classroom, noting Denver SD as an example. He said SPS needs more "parallel planning.""

I hope people's alarm bells are going off at this, and it's not about the money. SPS staff are rolling out blended learning with hardly any oversight or even input from the board, and they're looking to Denver - an ed reform paradise - as a model.

The board should call an immediate halt to any blended learning work until there is a clear policy in place that this will be used to supplement and not replace traditional teaching, and that it will never take up more than 50% or so of classroom time, particularly in the younger grades.


Melissa Westbrook said...

And again, Thank Geary offers nothing but an opinion. That's fine but without any kind of research or data, it's not much more.

Anonymous said...

I think readers are wise enough to recognize malarkey when they see it.

carry on

Anonymous said...

mw tg is truly a knave. delete them. their post is invalid. oh and we know who they are. but they choose to use a new moniker every post so we have to struggle through their swill to realize that they are liars.

i would guess you will find them in this list of conflators in this list of speakers that charged geary's outrage... albeit hypocritical as it is.

10. Cause Haun HC Pathways/ Equitable Access to Advanced Learning
11. Devin Bruckner HC Pathways/ Equitable Access to Advanced Learning
13. Kate Poux HC Pathways/ Equitable Access to Advanced Learning
14. Brian Terry Equitable Access to Advanced Learning
16. Whitney Patterson HC Pathways/ Equitable Access to Advanced Learning

i will have more on this shortly but seriously:

they are funded by the district to claim institutional racism by the district. i am not shiting you on the small elementary school race and equity team have a grant from the district! and they badger their members to speak at the meetings.

they are allowed to speak about equity when this vote was about ... pathways of identified HIGH SCHOOL students to insure we can get students into classes and have them graduate on time.

mw delete that post as it is as irrelevant as was the boards venture into equity when that is settled ground and if the speakers really cared about equity they would have allowed lincoln to have a local pathway and not ghs. seems equitable to me. right?

i need to review their talking points but those listed above offered conflated and out and out lies imho.

no one ever wants to argue against "equity" but this is orwellian and probably tolley's attempt to get closer to retirement without accomplishment. if this was game of thrones i would see them as the characters with the stars branded on their foreheads.


and i did chuckle when geary snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. happy new year!

Anonymous said...

I don't at all understand Geary's attitudes about HCC but I would be cautious with assumptions about anybody's decisions about where to enroll their student. Students grow and change, teachers change, situations change, a placement can be okay one year and intolerable the next. So if she had her student in HCC for two years and then elsewhere, my only assumption would be that she thought those were her best available choices for that student at the time.

One of the biggest problems that I see with HCC is that the district has no notion of what a student's needs are. The gatekeeping for HCC is not very connected to the services provided, but instead looks for students who are generically "highly capable" and then says essentially "Here is what we provide, if we think you qualify then you can take it or leave it." In particular, what the district provides is NOT appropriate for many gifted students, and may in fact be quite appropriate for many students that some people would consider diligent but not gifted. So I really don't get why there is so much hostility to students getting whatever their families think is appropriate, whether the students are "gifted" or not.


Anonymous said...

I would delete TG. I get extremely frustrated with complete malarky posted as fact to achieve some political end. Statements presented like:
"A gifted person will think they did poorly on a task but a highly trained learner will assume they ace every task." is completely and diametrically at odds with the many HCC students that I have encountered - and perhaps any student. In fact, complete confidence has been shown to correlate with lack of knowledge and training. Kind of similar to the confidence exuding from TG's comments.
In the coming years, those like Melissa, who seek knowledgeable discourse are going to have to make more and more informed decisions about trolling. It will not always be possible to apply a simple algorithm like "no student insults" to the nefarious manipulations of political disruptors.


Melissa Westbrook said...

imho, that's pretty strong talk. How do you know the grant is being used this way?
But yes, I think equity is being used as both a carrot and stick, shield and sword and it's hard to get a word in edgewise without being branded as not caring.

And yes, I think we all recognize someone who is just talking just to talk.

I don't care about Geary's decisions for education for her students - I have advocated that parents know their children and have to make what they believe are the best choices. But Geary never acknowledges that her own child was in HCC. That's troubling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Principal Katie May and the Thurgood Marshall PTA offer four winter and spring dates for school information sessions and tours (some including observation of classroom activities). The Jan. 25 session includes a special focus on the Highly Capable Cohort program (serving what TM now calls “Accelerated Curriculum Scholars”)."

Well, that's interesting but again, the district allows services/programs to be managed/manipulated by schools as principals please so renaming a service doesn't seem that odd. Can't wait to go on that tour.

Anonymous said...

I am also concerned about blended learning. I have an opportunity to see Amplify science rolled out in a school and it is awful. Kids sit in front of a computer the entire time. It's boring, repetitive, has a huge focus on reading and writing, students are not engaged, and the teacher does very little new teaching, just support of the program. Gone are engaging projects,projects based on interest, the chance for students to ask questions and go in a new direction because of interest, and the science fair. This program is not good for students with IEPs as there is heavy emphasis on reading and writing and no supports in the program to assist with this. I feel it is a wasted year and I would not want my own children in that kind of environment, where a computer program governs what is taught, the teachers role is secondary, and there is no, or little, opportunity for a student's natural curiosity to flourish. Programs like this should only be a small part of a science class, not the entire focus. And unfortunately, I have heard, although not confirmed, that this program is highly thought of in SPS. This is a precursor to a blended learning model, and it is scary.

Jay P

Anonymous said...

I’m a little confused. I thought that one of the rules of this blog was that we didn’t go after people’s kids. All this discussion of a director’s children makes me uncomfortable.


Melissa Westbrook said...

SWWS, it's not "going after" anyone's child - we said nothing about the child. We are pointing out a fact about a director and the choice she made for her child which she now thinks should change for other people's children.

Anonymous said...

It is odd, though - the group repeatedly speaks at Board meetings, no matter the items being discussed. They are displacing those wanting to speak on topics of the current or upcoming votes. Every single meeting. It's like they are oblivious to the fact they are taking away opportunities for others to have a voice.

just odd

Anonymous said...

Their constant complaining would be more effective if they pulled their children out of HCC and insisted on receiving services in their attendance area schools instead.

Fairmount Parent

Anonymous said...

I think what's odd is how hard MW pushed for Geary. So what is up with that.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, please leave Director Geary's personal choices for her family out of this discussion. It's not appropriate and feels invasive and personal, IMHO.

Anonymous said...


What people tend to despise in their leaders in particular and community members in general is hypocrisy.

When someone publicly assails someone or something, in this case HCC, yet continues to privately partake of it, it MUST be called out.

The child is not being discussed, but the parent's private decision for their child in opposition to their public stance for the rest of the community.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Geez, I supported Geary's candidacy. I thought she had more to offer than Lauren McGuire especially around Special Education. She is not quite the board director I thought we would get when she was a candidate and I did not hear these firm views on HC at that time. She certainly is entitled to evolve as a director.

I'm with Fair; if a director chooses a service/program for their own child and then later tries to completely throw it under the bus, that needs to be called out and questioned.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'll note that Director Blanford brought up his child and the programs she was in all the time. Ditto with Director Carr.

Anonymous said...

IB is NOT a service it's a program. This blogs Cuisinarting of facts is telling. I know the connection between Geary and Westbrook and I was not surprised when Geary tried to jumpship. What is shocking to me is that Geary could receive any votes for SB prez after her embarrassing move. And the district is "not getting back to learning" with Harris. She lacks a balanced approach dealing with the wide demographics of the district. I fear she will use the position to run for re-election.

Don't expect Geary or Jesse to help HCC or SPED, it ain't going to happen.


What Indeed? said...

Right? But that's the issue. Why do we have school district employees and school board directors who are NOT helping HCC and SPED? It's one thing to not enter a district job or the school board already bringing with you expertise about SPED and HCC (and all the other myriad programs and services in this large district). It's another thing to form a secret cabal and work diligently against the best interests of entire groups of students. If it's in the best interest of any district students for the district to stop offering a program or a service, let's hear about it, let's see the report and the data and the scholarship and make a change for the greater good. Based on pedagogical science. But this secretive cabal approach, working behind the scenes to dismantle services to a group of students, has to stop.

Doctor Hu said...

"Melissa, please leave Director Geary's personal choices for her family out of this discussion. It's not appropriate and feels invasive and personal, IMHO."

NP, it is Director Geary herself who has brought her personal Ingraham IBX HC choices for her family into this discussion, so it is certainly appropriate to consider the public policies she now advocates based on her anecdotal parental experience. Such public consideration of actions by our elected officials is neither invasive nor personal.

At the December 6 Seattle School Board meeting, Director Geary made the following statement in support of her Amendment 3 (dropping Franklin HS out of her Amendment 2 which would have established new HC pathways at all Seattle comprehensive high schools by 2020-21):

"I'm also mindful having lived through a school that ended up with a program put into it -- a program that is called a service -- that the, the school wasn't adequately prepared for it, and it caused such a cultural division that I am hoping that as we -- we're going to have to do the work around Franklin to get it ready for '20-21 anyway -- and that as we do that work the culture can be, um, fostered so that the blending of populations becomes much more thoughtfully done by the staff in the school. That is my purpose and I have -- I believe that when a leader comes out, a building leader comes out, and makes a strong request but says that they are willing to do the work over time, that that is something that, that I can honor."

Surely Ingraham HS parents, at least, have every right to weigh Director Geary's arguments and votes on citywide HC pathways and options in light of her own supporting personal anecdotal school narrative?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Geez, HC is a service, not a program. I said nothing about IB. This was a point made by Mr. Jessee.

"I know the connection between Geary and Westbrook and I was not surprised when Geary tried to jumpship."

I have no idea what you are talking about but do tell. Again, being cryptic is also grounds for deletion so let's hear it.

Word is that Geary is not running again for her SB seat.(multiple sources)

Dr. Hu, I also have that quote in there. I can say that while I'm glad directors bring their own personal education stories to the job, that can't be the be all and end all to how they vote.

And the rise of the all-powerful high school principals is something that I believe will have a reckoning someday. I wouldn't mind if I felt like the principals were backed up by their communities but many times, it sounds like just the principal.

Anonymous said...

HC is a service, IB is a program, and...IBX is kind of a service/program combo, since it's only for HC students who get the Ingraham pathway option as part of their HC services. If IBX were simply a program, like AP, non-HC students would be eligible. IBX is a program that exists as an HC service.

In that sense, @Geez, Melissa was NOT incorrect to refer to it as "service/program."


Anonymous said...

Geary: “When you talk to me, be careful of your weddedness to labels around students."

Dear Dir Geary,
I could give a flying you-know-what about the labels. I don't care if you want to label my kid "hedgehog" or "BFD123" or some secret code in the SPS system. It doesn't matter to me, or to my kid. I just want my kid to get the appropriate services. That's what my kid wants, too. I want my kid to go to school and learn new things. Not to only learn to sit still while others try to catch up, and to help tutor peers on material he already knows (and already knew before the lesson); not to only learn to never speak up (because the teacher wants the other kids to get a chance first, and not feel bad), and not to learn that school is a waste of time. I want my child to have the same opportunities that other students have--an opportunity to learn new things, to be challenged, to develop confidence in his abilities to try something, fail, keep trying, and succeed. Equity of learning opportunity. Equity means things are relative, that context is important. Equity doesn't mean everyone gets the same thing--unless you're talking about everyone getting an equal opportunity to learn...in which case some kids need different things. See how that works? Equity is good. Equality is good. But they are not one and the same.

P.S. - The only people "wedded to labels" are the people trying so hard to dismantle HCC. Oh, and OSPI and the state, who require that we actually provide services for students identified as "highly capable," since there are so many out there who don't understand the needs of these services and are obsessed with labels.

poTAYto poTAHto

Anonymous said...

Geary nailed the social impacts that the IBX and IB programs are having on students at Ingraham.

Its surprising others wont join her
Keep up the good work and folks should

Thank Geary

SEA Contract said...

High schools are getting ready for Core 24. We will see 8 periods. There are at least two schools that will combine Honors/ Core classes in LA, SS and math for 9th graders. Next year, the district will do the for 1oth graders. Directors need for staff to show them high school 24 credit plans.

At the same time, there is a plan to increase teacher: student ration to 1:180. This will be a significant part of Seattle Education Association's contract/ bargaining.

Geary and DeWolf need to understand that it is impossible for a single teacher to meet the needs of 180 students. I don't care how much you "differentiate".

Geary and DeWolf are responsible for oversight and that means assuring HCC students get their needs met.

Rhetoric Much said...

We need need to be honest. Some high school students are working at elementary school levels. Some are working at college levels. It is not reasonable to expect a single teacher to meet the needs of 150-180 students.

Geary needs more than rhetoric.

Anonymous said...

There's no requirement to make sure that any student's needs are met concerning HCC. It's only required that services need to be accessible to those identified.

Tell me parents, does steeling from SPED to pay for back filling classes because of HCC bother anyone?

Thank Geary

Spell checker said...

That would be : "stealing"

The state recently provided additional funding for Highly Capable.

Anonymous said...

Funding is for the whole state not just SPS. Sorry lm on a very small phone.

It's still shameful and illegal no matter how you spell it.

Thank Geary

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

Fortunately, I have just revisited this thread before going to sleep only to discover that about thirty minutes ago a troll (from the content evidently aka Thank Geary and Spell checker) has now stolen my Name to post the 12:58 AM post immediately above. Even more oddly, that troll has also signed off on their masquerading 12:58 AM post with the additional signature of another poster "imho" who had already challenged Thank Geary/Spell checker in imho's 12:13 AM post. Very weird, sad behavior. If I have to disown another masquerading post it will need to be tomorrow, so good night.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

@SEAContracct "There are at least two schools that will combine Honors/ Core classes in LA, SS and math for 9th graders. Next year, the district will do the for 1oth graders. Directors need for staff to show them high school 24 credit plans."
1. What are the two high schools?
2. How could they combine math for 9th grade? 9th grade has kids coming in ready for Geometry, Algebra I, Algebra II.

Anonymous said...

Staff has access to data that we don't, hopefully htey share it with the board. As much as MAP testing was maligned,it provided a wealth od data on students who were cohorted in Spectrum as well as the APP/HCC cohorts and HC kids who did not choose the cohort.

It's much more complicated than shoving kids who can jumpa certan set of hoops into self-contained classrooms.

The district knows this and the new board members will know it soon.

Segregating kids by CogAT is like trimming one's toenails with sickle.


Progress? Advance. said...

Segregating kids by age makes no more sense. Since the MAP tests provided such great data, let's segregate them based on MAP scores (or SBAC or whatever). Get rid of age-based classrooms and social promotion. Let's progress students through school at the pace they learn. Skill mastered? Move on. Let them challenge test ahead when they're ready. Focus excellent supports and reteaching on students who need them. Let's do it!

The CogAT is optional anyway. MAP and SBAC are awesome because almost everyone takes them.

Anonymous said...

Most public schools segregate students by age.

Using CogAT, often in kindergarten and first grade, to determine the rest of a student's career in SPS is fundamentally flawed by any measure.

HCCers love data until it doesn't fit their needs. There is already a plethora of public data that shows that HC-designated students. in their neighborhood schools are doing as well or better than those in the cohort. That gets rationalized away.

It is very likely that SPS is sitting on plenty of other data, including the underperforming HCC students, that will be used to reconstruct the "program" which
is currently a program because it hasn't adapted to the state mandated "services" model (not "service" model).

Data please

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tell me parents, does steeling from SPED to pay for back filling classes because of HCC bother anyone?"

Never heard of this before; where's your evidence? I know that, in the recent past, out in Ballard the principal was using Sped money for Gen Ed.

IMHO, if anyone is complicit, it's the principals, not the teachers.

Ah,IMHO, that comment didn't sound like you and I see that Dr. Hu is having the same problem. Troll-people, if you can't make good points without stealing others' names, go look in the mirror. Proud of what you see? Grow up and cut it out.

"Staff has access to data that we don't, hopefully htey share it with the board."

Many times, only if the Board asks. There are some heat maps they didn't share and the Board had to ask for those.

"There is already a plethora of public data that shows that HC-designated students. in their neighborhood schools are doing as well or better than those in the cohort. That gets rationalized away."

Ah, but you forget - many parents of all stripes - choose a school for many reasons. For some parents, a cohort means a lot especially if their school does not service their HC kid's needs. Now the district can say they will go back to a neighborhood model based on data that shows some HCC do fine but again, parents do have some say about it.

Dragon Mom said...

I totally agree that SPED seems underfunded, but the funds aren't going to HCC. For example, the per-student funding for Wing Luke Elementary in 2016-17 was $12,506 and in HCC (Cascadia) it was $6,235. So dramatically less is being spent on cohorted hicap students. As it should be. The minute you move them back to their neighborhood schools, you start having to pay the higher GE price for them and in addition the teachers need to do way more work.

Anonymous said...

@ Data please said: "There is already a plethora of public data that shows that HC-designated students in their neighborhood schools are doing as well or better than those in the cohort."

Whether that is the case or not--and I don't know where you see this "plethora of data" (care to share?)--it's a complicated issue, and simplistic thinking will get us nowhere.

IF HC-id'd students who stay at neighborhood schools do just as well, the intelligent response to that piece of information is to ask WHY.
- Is it because neighborhood schools simply do a better job than HCC of educating HC students, and any HC student who had stayed at their neighborhood school would have done better if they hadn't moved to HCC? That's not very plausible, given that HCC students had been there already and decided to leave...
- Is it that neighborhood schools work better for SOME HC students? Is so, why? Is it due to characteristics of the neighborhood school itself, or characteristics of the student and/or the student's family? Are there certain neighborhood schools that do a good job with HC students? (I don't think the district has ever looked on a school-by-school level to see who stays vs. who leaves for HCC.) Or is it that students from families of means (in terms of money, educational background, etc.) are able to supplement (themselves, or via expensive extracurriculars) are able to pick up the slack? The idea that all these HC students in the neighborhood schools are just getting the typical GE program, or GE+in-class differentiation, is not borne out by the experience of most who've had HC students in neighborhood schools, so I suspect there is a high rate of parental supplementation/online programming/academic extracurriculars occurring within this group. (Of course, nobody at SPS has ever bothered to ask.)
- Is it that the HCC instructional program is flawed? There's no LA/SS curriculum for middle school HCC, so that's a likely factor. There are also numerous complaints that the program (in some grades) lacks rigor, and that isn't designed for HC students' unique needs. If a program/service like HCC has a target population (HC students) but doesn't provide appropriate services for that target population, you wouldn't expect it to work well and produce the outcomes you hope. That does not, however, suggest the problem is with the target group, nor does is suggest the program isn't needed--it just means you need a better intervention.
- What are you even using as the outcome measure of interest, and why? It sounds like state test scores are your yardstick, and if HC students in the cohort and at their neighborhood schools score similarly, that's a sign HCC isn't working or needed. For one, BOTH groups tend to score high on these state tests, and HC students will tend to do so, particularly in early grades, regardless of their educational experience. They are intellectually advanced enough to compensate for any shortcomings in their education, and barring newly emerging learning disabilities they are not likely to suddenly start lagging their average-scoring peers. But secondly, if HCC is an intervention of sorts to meet the different needs of HC students who need an intervention, maybe doing as well as other HC students (staying local) actually represents success. Research shows that HC students who are unserved are prone to depression, behavioral problems, dropping out, etc. Keeping these kids in school and doing well (scoring significantly above average) is a good outcome.

By the way, the above is not "rationalizing." It's complexity of thinking. Things are not black and white, no matter how much you want them to be. If you're not willing to look deeply and critically at the data and recognize when data gaps hinder your ability to interpret what you're seeing, there's really no point in getting the data in the first place.

data seeker

Evelyn Tremble said...

"I totally agree that SPED seems underfunded, but the funds aren't going to HCC."

And you know this how? Facts please.

We do know that there were several times that for instance Ballard
high school used a gen ed teacher to fill-in for an AP teacher then moved a special ed teacher into her gen ed class room leaving SPED without coverage.

We also know that schools like Ballard collect funding for special ed services at around $12k per student plus the gen ed allocation of $6+K. They take the SPED students and force them into studies skills classes that cost nowhere near $12K per student and yield no measurable gains for the students. The school then uses the savings to fund their HC services or other programs. My facts are available from OSPI and SPS legal. In addition to OSPI and SPS legal, the above mentioned cases have been discussed on many post here on this blog.

The Ballard situation was rooted out by a diligent parent, SPED advocate and SPED PTSA member. I can only assume a similar practice is taking place at other SPS schools, I have no facts only a good hunch.

We had hoped Geary would have launched a investigation into the misappropriation of SPED funds, so much for hope!

Progress? Advance. said...

Ballard is a high school. There's no separate hicap in high school. The students are all mixed in together. Most of the students taking AP classes aren't hicap. So if a teacher is moved from SPED to cover an AP class, how does that have any more to do with HC students than GE or SPED students (who can and do also take AP classes)?

Doctor Hu said...

"My only comment is that I wish 'Thank Geary' would pick that as their moniker and keep it for the duration of their time on this blog." Solvay Girl, 12/27 @ 8.09 PM

"Fortunately, I have just revisited this thread before going to sleep only to discover that about thirty minutes ago a troll (from the content evidently aka Thank Geary and Spell checker) has now stolen my Name to post the 12:58 AM post immediately above." Doctor Hu, 12/29 @ 1:27 AM

"that comment didn't sound like you and I see that Dr. Hu is having the same problem. Troll-people, if you can't make good points without stealing others' names, go look in the mirror. Proud of what you see? Grow up and cut it out." Melissa Westbrook, 12/29 @ 12:06 PM

There is a very serious ethical issue centered on the actions of the troll who posted after midnight last night falsely using my pseudonym Doctor Hu. For whatever reason, that person tried to steal my voice. Because of that action, we now know that person to be a liar and a cheat. From textual evidence, we also know that same person posts under many constantly changing pseudonyms, which is allowed on this public blog but not for the purpose of posing as many different readers or to practice deception.

While blog etiquette does not generally rise to an ethical standard when private individuals post, a different and higher ethical standard does apply to our public officials. Even giving Director Geary the benefit of the doubt by assuming that "Thank Geary" is not Director Geary herself, the fact remains that this poster constantly professes to know her innermost thoughts, to be an insider with the SPS staff and board of directors, and to be in regular if not daily contact with Director Geary. Whatever the truth, after the deliberate deceit during the small hours last night, I would strongly advise Director Geary to identify and control the troll before any of that author's actions are imputed to her.

Quite apart from the public scrutiny in this blog, Director Geary is an elected school board member in a city whose newspaper's superb education reporter Claudia Rowe has twice had her investigative work nominated for Pulitzer Prizes. In her latest book, Ms. Rowe recalls starting as a cub reporter in the early '90s: "All of it chasing answers to the question I never spoke aloud. 'You want to know what makes people do the things they do? You want to understand motivation?' said my first editor, cutting to the heart of the matter. 'Cover schools.'" The Spider and the Fly (2017), at page 9.

Anonymous said...

How is it Geary's responsibility to "control a troll" on a public blog? That is ridiculous! A poster professing to know Geary's "inner thoughts" puts a burden of disclaimer on Geary? You might not like what was posted, but...get real!

As some readers outlined last week, school board members have no business using this, or any other blog, to post district-related business. Hopefully, the message that suggested an ethics probe was in order for those who partake in this practice woke some of them up. The majority of board members have had enough sense and decency to not use this blog to do business and spread their gospel.

My guess is that pigs will fly before we see any board members comment here in the foreseeable future.

Delete Me

Anonymous said...

As any child development professional knows segregating by age makes total sense.

Ask any high school AP Chem teacher what the difference is between their juniors and their sophomores.

For that matter, ask any parent how much their child grea emotionally from the end of sophomore to junior year.

Chronological age is extremely important and that is why SPS is opposed to grade skipping and to a greater and greater extent acceleration.


Anonymous said...

@ wave says: "Chronological age is extremely important and that is why SPS is opposed to grade skipping and to a greater and greater extent acceleration."

And yet, "academic acceleration as the most effective intervention for academically talented students."

"The literature concerning radical acceleration strongly supports the wider adoption of this most successful intervention."

"Educational acceleration is one of the cornerstones of exemplary gifted education practices, with more research supporting this intervention than any other in the literature on gifted individuals. The practice of educational acceleration has long been used to match high level student general ability and specific talent with optimal learning opportunities."

Perhaps gifted children are different?

all types

Progress? Advance. said...

Thanks to birthdays being scattered all throughout the calendar year, redshirting, and other factors, a lot of sophomores and juniors are actually the same age as each other, so I'd be surprised if high school AP Chem teachers really focused on how old their sophomore vs. junior students are. Kids reach developmental milestones at different ages. Kids learn to walk anywhere between 9 to 18 months, and you find those who do it even earlier or later. Children generally learn to read anywhere between 4 and 7, some earlier or even later. Age segregation doesn't really make that much sense. That's why milestones are described with age ranges, not a hard and fast fixed universal age. I guarantee that some 15 year olds are more mature and with it than some 17 year olds. Some 13 year olds are more mature than some 17 year olds. Humans vary. Teachers know all about it.

Anonymous said...

@wave, the "importance of chronological age" is not why "SPS is opposed to grade skipping and to a greater and greater extent acceleration."

They are opposed partly because a one-size-fits-all approach is easier for them, but primarily because acceleration only increases academic disparities. They prefer to shrink the gap by lowering the ceiling, which is easier than raising the floor.

All types

Anonymous said...

At the extreme, sophomores and juniors could be almost 2 years apart. If a student has been grade skipped, the difference could be 3 years. At the most extreme, you could have a freshman taking an AP Calc class with seniors. Maybe it's not a big deal for math and science classes, but it is an issue for LA/SS, especially when teachers push the boundaries for what they consider age appropriate material. APP was intentionally designed to be academically advanced, but still age appropriate. It was a step up from grade skipping. Grade skipping is what students do when there are no other choices, as may be the case in smaller, less urban districts. To go back to a situation where grade skipping is the only choice does not seem like progress.


Anonymous said...

any "proof" @AllTypes?


Anonymous said...

Acceleration vs. enrichment is a real issue in gifted ed. Let's discuss!


Progress? Advance. said...

Evidence of the district trying to shrink the gap by lowering the ceiling? It's everywhere you look.

MTSS does not cover what to do if a child is above grade level. Schools do not include in their CSIPs what to do with children who are above grade level. Many schools don't allow any above grade level work at all (some are notorious for this). Principals (who have insufficient training in gifted ed) attempt to dissuade families from leaving for HCC by spreading disinformation. Many teachers stop leveling children's reading level at grade level even if the children are reading ahead of this as evident from their MAP or SBA performance (not to mention their demonstrable reading abilities).

The phase-out of Spectrum was clearly organized by the district or a response to something on a district level. Multiple principals all came out with the same lines and all made the same decisions in rapid, short order, but surreptitiously and without acknowledging what they were doing.

Anonymous said...

More evidence: the move toward honors for all" approaches, which eliminate an "advanced" level of instruction.

All types

Anonymous said...

That sounds more than a little paranoid and conspiratorial to me.

The "lowering the ceiling" fable has been around for years and it's really ludicrous.

I can't think of a teacher who wouldn't be proud to have all their students do their best and reach the highest potential possible.

Why on earth would they be teachers if not for that?

Especially here in Seattle where we have the pick of the crop.

The finest teachers in the US want to teach here despite low pay, overcrowding and high housing costs.

Please use logic,


Anonymous said...

SPS prides itself on students entering UW and other top schools, just as it is proud of it's graduation rate and overall college acceptance rate.

And SPS always strives to do better, that is their mission, for goddess' sake!

People have so little trust in our institutions these days it is truly frightening.

But government is so obviously crooked when it full of gropers and we pay for it, and most high level officials get rich, legally(which makes it worse) by going in and out of government and lobbying and corporate jobs.

The media, forget the "fake news", the media is in the business of advertising so you won't hear much that goes against its cash providers. Example: they sell drugs galore on TV for lifestyle ailments that the media will not explain to their viewers how to prevent.

They sell diabetes medicine right after the Wendy's commercial. They squeeze in a story on global warming between car ads.

Why should people trust their institutions?

But, seriously, to think SPS teachers are conspiring to hold students back and therefor keep them out of the colleges they should be attending begs reality.


Progress? Advance. said...

So what does MTSS say to do with students who are ahead of grade level?

And the schools always remember to include students who are ahead of grade level in their CSIPs?

And principals don't provide disinformation about HCC?

And schools are happy to allow walk-to math to students who have already completed the current year's math?

All teachers keep leveling students' reading even when they've met year-end expectations?

And every principal simultaneously decided to slowly phase out Spectrum year by year at the same time in favor of "differentiated instruction model"? (http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2014/05/spectrum-is-dead_20.html) But all with the same cryptic comments and references to task forces that didn't have anything to do with Spectrum?

Anonymous said...

@ Spock, you accuse me of paranoia for reporting our experience and observations over the years, while you are clearly living in a fantasyland? Rich.

Show me how the ceiling has not been lowered for the district's most academically gifted students. Are all the examples above not evidence of a rationing of rigor, decrease in opportunities, or systemic neglect? Can you give examples of all the great things the district is supposedly doing to better meet the needs of academically gifted students?

I think many, maybe most--but not all--teachers would be proud to have their students do their best and reach the highest potential. But being proud of something happens to happen is a far cry from active working to make it happen, and few teachers have the time and resources to focus on students working beyond level. They simply aren't the priority.

Your civic pride is quaint, but having lived many places I see no evidence that Seattle has "the pick of the crop" when it comes to teachers. Because of the timing of our annual hiring, one could argue we actually get the dregs. I'm not suggesting we don't have some good, even some great, teachers. But we don't have the best of the best overall, and the idea that "the finest teachers in the US want to teach here despite low pay, overcrowding and high housing costs" is absurd. What's the big draw, our outdated/absent curriculum? Our dysfunctional administration? Our lack of stable leadership? Please be logical yourself--and please show me actual evidence of how I'm wrong, not just pro-SPS cheerleading.

All types

Anonymous said...

So you still maintain that SPS is trying to keep students from learning?

You really feel SPS wants students to fail?

SPS wants to keep students out of UW and other top colleges?

I'm sorry, but I find that hard to swallow.


Anonymous said...

@All Types,

I can speak only for my child and her friends, but we have found SPS very good at meeting their needs. She is an HC student. She has attended her reference schools and did not join the cohort.

Maybe the cohort is subpar, I don't know, but she is doing very well. She just scored 1400 on her PSAT and is looking to attend UW.

I have spent years volunteering, two as room parent in elementary, made personal connections with all her teachers and principals and found nothing but sincere, dedicated and skilled professionals.

I appreciate that others find problems with the district, I've heard many a complaint, but in my opinion the parents have been too quick to find fault and do not understand the modern educational system.

I'd recommend getting to know staff, volunteering, and researching trends in education.

Happy Camper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous Progress? Advance, yup. Look to Spectrum to see how badly this district handled that program/service.

I don't think SPS wants anyone to fail. I don't think they want a ceiling.

But I do think that they basically just want to see across-the-board increases in academic outcomes, primarily to meet ESSA.

I also think that save the Advanced Learning team, no one in the district cares about highly capable students and their outcomes given "they'll be okay in the end, no matter what their parents say." The parents are useful (if annoying) to the district because they tend to push for things that will fulfill the "a rising tide lifts all boats) plus help raise a lot of money for this district. The students are useful because they can help drive a classroom upward, both in behavior and discussion (not to say all HC kids are angels - they are not - but they tend to be kids you can better control). Ask any teacher.

But that is not what those kids are in school for - they, too, are there to learn.

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

Lot to unpack there Melissa.

We have 4000+ students who receive their education primarily in self-cCntained classrooms from 1st through 8th grade but no one cares about them except the AL dept?

The HC kids and their usefulness as classroom "uplifters" is a myth. I have asked teachers about that and it's just not true that they feel that way.

Many, many GenEd students are easy to control, as you put it and HC students have a similar distribution of behavior issues as GenEd students.

Let's stop with the trope that teachers feel they will be OK no matter what. That is so 20th century, it's frankly propaganda in my opinion and I'm surprised to see you serving it up as fact.

Then there's the money claim. HC parents are more generous or just wealthier? You make it sound like the HC parents are better human beings with their donations.

pearl diver

Anonymous said...

My understanding of the change in Spectrum is it made more opportunities for advanced learners.

Students at my school, Whittier, who qualified for grade ahead word were kept in gened classrooms due to self-contained classrooms being full.

Single subject gifted students received no service at all.

Now, I understand, there is walk to math and clusters of advanced students in language arts.

More students are getting service, not less.

Facts matter

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The HC kids and their usefulness as classroom "uplifters" is a myth. I have asked teachers about that and it's just not true that they feel that way."

We'll have to agree to disagree but given how hard the push is to dismantle HC, I think it's leaning my way. And, principals in the past have fought hard to not see their Advanced Learning students leave their schools.

As for the HC kids in HC schools, well, they don't get anything but the classroom. They don't have any special curriculum, most teachers have little training in working with HC students so it's pretty much the cohort. To note, the district has to provide something according to state law and this is what they picked.

I stand by the "they'll be okay" statement. Call it opinion if you want but years of hearing it from parents and teachers and principals gives me that stand.

I did not say HC parents were more generous; I said they are likely to work very hard for their students' schools (and the dollars show that). Some HC parents - of kids in HC schools and not in HC schools - are better off.

But I did not say that anyone was more generous or better human beings. You made that alignment.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the most insidious sentiment is that AL students will be "okay" and don't need much instruction, because, well, they've already met grade level standards. Perhaps that has not been your experience, @pearl, but our experience has been that sentiment is alive and well.

There are some outstanding teachers in SPS, many of whom are very dedicated and caring individuals. We are thankful for the many hardworking teachers who do so much with so little. Yet...not all teachers have what it takes to provide appropriate level instruction (and the district doesn't exactly provide the needed supports). There have been many classes where teachers don't seem compelled to actually teach. Some actually denigrate students for being high achieving. Is this attitude more prevalent in honors/AL/HC specific courses? Do some administrators assign weaker teachers to classes where they know students will take it upon themselves to learn the material? It's hard to say. It just seems very, very inconsistent from class to class.

That's great that some families have found appropriate challenge in their reference school. Really, it's great. We're happy for you. Truly happy.


Anonymous said...

@ Melissa,
You and others believe that principals want Hc kids to stay for the benefit of the principal. Maybe they feel it would benefit the HC student. You seem to ascribe the worst intentions to SPS principals.

Teachers no doubt feel that many HC students would do well in their neighborhood school and the 1000 HC students who do not enter the cohort indicate many parents feel the same.

My bad in thinking you were implying HCC parents more generous, because I think that is completely false.

The big donors at my schools have always been Gen Ed parents.

Why do make statements claiming the district is dismantling HC service? Is expanding service to additional high schools dismantling? Are 4000 students in cohorted classrooms a dismantled program?

Why is it you fan the flames of discontent and seem to encourage distrust and antagonism towards the district?


Anonymous said...


Find me one teacher who has said HC students need no instruction. That's a pretty outrageous statement and seems intended to instigate more outrage.

Plus you have chosen to use the condescending tone of one who does not want to engage but humiliate and hurt.


Anonymous said...

@sad, we had one very nice, caring teacher who sent our child and a couple others out into the hall to work on advanced work with an intern who didn't know how to teach the material (I'm not exaggerating--they did math word problems by trial and error, not logical thinking). Maybe the teacher's intentions were good, but clearly she was just offloading them to someone incapable of actually teaching them.

We had another who refused to assess reading level or math abilities beyond grade level, so made everyone max out at grade level work. The teacher clearly stated the focus was on bringing those below grade level up.

Maybe they aren't saying "no instruction" (since that is their job, after all), but no instruction that actually matters. Teaching kids to do things they already know doesn't count in my book.

All types

Anonymous said...

@ Facts Matter, the elimination of Spectrum may have increased opportunities for high-performing students in some schools, and to the extent that happened, that's great. It may also have decreased the level of challenge available in those schools for some classes, if previously Spectrum students were incorporated into mixed classes that didn't move quite as fast or go quite as far or deep. But that's not the point here, because we were talking about ceilings for HC-qualified students, not Spectrum/AL-qualified students. The ceiling is being lowered at the HC end.

@Happy Camper, I'm glad your daughter is happy at her school. A good score on the PSAT is not surprising for any HC student, as they've already shown the ability to score in the 98th percentile on various tests to get that designation in the first place. That score doesn't prove much of anything re: HC vs. neighborhood services (and it's provably not a NMSF-qualifying score). And UW isn't a particularly high goal for an HC student, although there are many good reasons to go there. Also, I assume you would not presume to suggest that what worked for your daughter would work for all kids, is that right? That there may be other HC students out there who need something different? I've always supported choice, because while reference schools can be fine--even great--for some HC students, for others they are disastrous.

All types

Anonymous said...

@d, you said: "teachers no doubt feel that many HC students would do well in their neighborhood school."

Some do, some don't. Schools are different. Kids are different. One size fits all...doesn't.

I know many HC parents whose teachers and principals encouraged them to leave for HCC, because they acknowledged they could not, or would not, meet the child's academic needs. We hear that from parents time and time again.

As for antagonism, take a closer look. The majority of antogonism in this district is disproportionately toward HCC and those "so-called gifted" students.

All types

Progress? Advance. said...

Melissa, I agree that the district seems to want to get rid of HCC.

Many parents wrote to the board at the beginning of October to point out that the High School Boundary Advisory committee is working with a set of scenarios/maps that don't clearly indicate whether HCC pathways are included in the numbers or not. The board meeting to discuss the high school boundaries is in 3 days and this still seems to be the case, which is just negligent. If you bunched all the hicap high school students together, as Kellie pointed out, they would be one of the larger high schools in the city. 1407 HC high school students this year. Where these students get put affects the boundaries of all the other high schools. And maybe even whether Cleveland gets to remain an option school.

Some administrators, staff, a couple of board members and some parents may personally, privately despise these students, mock them, sneer at them, ignore them, deride them, pretend they’re not real, “forget” to include them on maps, “forget" the Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee is a real committee, intentionally and continually confuse the terms "advanced learning" and "highly capable”, scapegoat them, blame them for stealing resources, blame them for conditions where they attend school, blame them for conditions where they don’t attend school, toss them back and forth like a hot potato, beg not to have to have them at their schools, beg to keep them at their schools, blame the students who qualify for the service for the way the district administers the service, blame pushy parents for the kids' quirks that are part and parcel of who the kids are, blame acceleration for collateral issues of giftedness, resent the kids, bully them, make decisions about them based on long outdated scholarship, make decisions about them based on scholarship that did not consider high cognition at all, and so on.

The district has a Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee but doesn't listen to it. Apparently outgoing superintendent Nyland has not listened to it so much he forgot it was a real committee. Oh, they're clearly listening to SOMEONE, but who?

The district “announces” in an amendment that they want to send all HC students to their neighborhood high schools but also that these high schools can’t educate them now and won’t be able to educate them next year. And there’s clearly not money to run less than full classes. And how are accelerated students going to have full classes at Sealth, Cleveland, Franklin, Hale, or West Seattle? Families already know this will never work from our experience fighting our local elementary schools for crumbs (books at the child’s reading level, not repeating years of math, not punishing children for overexcitabilities that are a natural part of them, assessing HC students for disabilities with a discrepancy or response-to-intervention model that accommodates high cognition, not doing so much darn reteaching of material the child has already demonstrated mastery of, etc.)

The district’s approach is unsettling, misguided, immoral, and sometimes negligent. They are smashing around in the dark with no PD on what giftedness actually is. Students from the least powerful families suffer the most from this obliviousness. And although the district pay for an Advanced Learning department that does know, and there are plenty of task forces and advisory committees that do know, the district don’t listen to them. Oh, they clearly listen to someone, but who? And why? They are going down a road that will cost more, serve students less well, and bring no ancillary benefits to anyone.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, my child's neighborhood school experience was much the same as others here. Since she was meeting grade-level expectations there was little effort or concern to provide meaningful education in reading or writing despite my pleas to the teacher and principal. Thank goodness at least she had Walk-to-Math. My child is 2E and absolutely needs structure and instruction, just simply making her a little teaching assistant or giving her more busy work is not ok. My child's teacher's solution was just to let her read in the corner all day. I am still hearing similar complaints from other parents at that school.

I have ZERO faith in any promises from SPS that my child's educational needs would be met if she moved back to her neighborhood school. ALL kids should get appropriate opportunities to learn.

NW parent