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Garfield Students May Have Saved Lives

What is up with this? Last week a Garfield student had been telling other students about how to have a school shooting.  The students told a teacher who did nothing.

It was not until those students saw a photo of a revolver the arrested teen had put up at Snapchat that those students AGAIN raised an alarm to "school staff."

This raises all kinds of questions like:

1) Did the teacher know the student in question and decide that student wouldn't do that?  Is that why she ignored those students?  And two days after a mass murder at another high school?

2) Garfield. Again.  I don't get this.

3) But thankfully, the school leadership did go to the police.  Sometimes in SPS, principals make their own judgment calls which, for something like this, is not a good idea.

I urge you to tell your student about this incident and urge them that if they see/hear something to please go straight to the principal.  It could save lives.

From KING-5 News:

Seattle police have arrested a student for allegedly making threats to shoot his classmates at Garfield High School. 

Officers were called to the school on February 16 when students observed the suspect posting an image of a revolver on his Snapchat account. That was two days after the deadly mass shooting in Parkland, Florida. 

Several students had previously witnessed or engaged in a conversation with the suspect in which he suggested pulling the fire alarm and shooting students behind the school, according to a police report. The witnesses told police the comments were made several weeks to a month ago. 

The students interviewed by police say they reported the incident to a teacher but no action was taken. The teacher "nervously laughed, and disregarded the information that was given to her." The police report goes on to say the teacher did not make a report of the students' comments. 

When the students saw the Snapchat picture, they took a screenshot and reported it to school staff. Then police were called to the school. 

Responding officers arrested the student at his home for investigation of harassment. 

Seattle Public Schools released the following statement: 

“Student and staff safety is always a priority. We are concerned by and looking into the report that students notified a teacher and that tip wasn’t escalated as it should have been. 

Thankfully, students courageously brought this up again with school leadership. The principal immediately contacted SPD and the district Safety & Security team per safety protocols. Once SPD arrested the student, they were able to notify families. 

We are so proud of the students for making sure school leaders received this tip directly. Schools are closed this week for mid-winter break. Next week, with school in session, school leaders will review with staff the process and importance of reporting any threats.”


Brian Duncan said…
I sent this to my student's HS principal:

Holy cow, have you seen this incident at Garfield HS, now unfolding? Apparently the teacher has resigned for dropping the ball in not reporting the threat. No word yet on whether home was searched and whether guns were found. Another near miss, narrowly avoided? or maybe caught early enough, before troubled student obtained weapons. (link to SPD report embedded in post)

My off the cuff response:
1. We need to keep, or get, assault weapons, then other weapons, out of the situation
2. We need to get the student help, early, often, and sufficient to prevent, and ameliorate circumstances leading to this kind of situation.

To counter those, like Donald Trump, who suggest arming teachers and administrators to be the primary line of defense against the shooters, Sandy Hook parent Mark Barden put it this way:
“… a deranged sociopath on his way to commit an act of murder in a school knowing the outcome is going to be suicide is not going to care if there’s somebody there with a gun. That’s their plan anyway.” Also, responding LEOs will likely have trouble differentiating between actual shooter, and responding armed teachers, administrators or even other students in the immediate chaos of the situation. Also, so far, having armed people in school situations, or other situations, such as the Las Vegas massacre, was not effective in stopping the shooter. Far more effective to limit the shooter's access to weapons of war. The evidence of the latter approach is already in, from Australia, UK, etc. We just need to act on this, as a society.
Anonymous said…
Is there something in the water at Garfield? I have had way to many negative experiences in that school over the years and found the Administration totally lacking when I did try to engage. The parade of enablers to Teflon Ted were quite a crew. And likely still are.

That said if a kid said someone was planning to kill someone I would call Security so fast your head would spin and then walked out the door to never return. Again too many bizarre encounters, conversations and exchanges by Admins and Teachers there that enabled the ongoing problems that are seemingly endless.

That is one school I don't miss.

- Oldy Timer
Anonymous said…
We have until May 31 2018 to complete our enrollment for to opt into Roosevelt as opposed to going with default HCC assignment to Garfield.

You better believe this is having a very profound impact on our decision making process.

Yes, it was “only” 1 Garfield student making gun violence threats, and yes, other exemplary Garfield students came to the rescue, which speaks well of them, BUT, it frightens us to no end. It is real, it can happen, it sounds like it came pretty close.

Garfield 5 years ago is not the Garfeild of today. Some things have improved (hazing has been squelched), but many more things have decreased educational quality and availability for some students (no more World History AP as freshmen, no more honors English, waste of space “Mentoring”, cancelled field trip, etc). Plus, with pathway alterations, overwhelming majority HCC students here picked RHS as their #1 choice last year.

We thought we were going to be proud parents of a bulldog, but this may be the final incident that pushes us to RHS.

Yes, both are absolutely outstanding schools. And yes, we remember the terrifying rape that happened at RHS many years ago, but looking ahead for next 4 years, we wonder if RHS will catch up with its science offerings and be safer overall.

I know other commentators will jump all over this, possibly saying we are overreacting to a near miss, but that is our purogative, as we hail from a nation with gun control and destructive weapons are completely shocking to us and stop us cold in our tracks.

Incomprehensible that the driving/deciding factor in our choice will be our child’s fundamental safety of person.

Future bulldog??
Anonymous said…
Read the police report. The King5 report underplays the seriousness of the issue. I hope the student gets the support and help he needs. I will be talking to my children about the importance of seeking help from adults (plural).

NESeattleMom said…
Future bulldog?, 1) Your options to select RHS are not available to families not living in that boundary. 2) Sorry to say, but this could happen at any school. Why did the teacher laugh nervously instead of following up? What comes to mind is possible grey area in training or lack of training--maybe she thought it was not a credible threat--hopefully that will be corrected on Monday to remove grey areas. Kudos to the students who reported the first time and the second time. I can understand why they thought they didn't need to do anything else after telling teacher a month ago. They probably thought "something" was being done. But in light of Parkland, FL, they took the social media scare to the next level of reporting. I hope my second bulldog (2021) will have as good an experience as my first bulldog (2016)
Anonymous said…
I am glad the teacher did the right thing and resigned. I also hope that this teacher does not seek further employment within the district.

I have noticed that King 5 gives short shrift to anything that undercuts right wing views. Education, climate issues and gun control are always undercut by them. King 5 is definitely trying to be the Fox Local News of the Northwest.

Anonymous said…
We are a current Garfield family who received the communication from Principal Howard. I feel no more or less safe than I did a week ago. Garfield is every school in America with respect to the current threat of gun violence, unfortunately.

There is still so much information that we aren't privy to to make a judgment one way or another regarding the teacher who didn't follow up on the purported threat - what was said, how it was said, who reported it and how. I can easily imagine two scenarios - one in which students quietly and seriously pull a teacher aside to tell her what the student said about a school shooting, and another in which giggling kids tell the teacher in passing that so-and-so was talking about a school shooting during lunch. In the first scenario the teacher definitely should have reported; in the second it's questionable whether any of us would do so absent other signs of disturbing behavior.


Anonymous said…
Two other points I would make in response to posters above:

1) While we are new to SPS and Garfield we are not new to Seattle. We have many longtime friends whose children attend high schools all over the city, since the early 90s. Because Garfield has so long been the magnet school for the entire city, news of anything that happens there spreads like wildfire across the city while negative incidents at other schools stayed within the school boundaries. You are fooling yourself thinking that Garfield is the only high school in the city where negative things happen - and of course negative things are going to happen at every school. (The same goes for private schools too, perhaps especially so. Did you know that many private school contracts now include anti-defamation clauses?)

2) I repeatedly read on these blogs about supposed declining academic rigor at Garfield from people apparently without children at Garfield. I can honestly say that hasn't been our experience. My child says the Lang Arts and History Honors For All classes are comparable to classes at our previous, top-performing private school, and certainly we see plenty of writing and critical analysis happening at home. Maybe my child is just lucky to have excellent teachers for those two classes, but all of my child's teachers at Garfield are excellent this year (our first).

Jet City mom said…
There must have been a more recent incident I was not aware of future bulldog??

The incident at Roosevelt I remember was the luring and slaying of John Jasmer.
Anonymous said…
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SusanH said…
FNL: thank you for your comments. I agree with you 100%.

Oldy Timer: goodness, if you no longer live in the area or have children in our schools, why are the long, angry rants? And please refrain from calling our children names. That's inappropriate and unnecessary.
Oldy Timer, I think you had interesting things to say and then you go and spoil by name-calling. We don't allow that here especially about children.
Anonymous said…
I wonder if Future Bulldog is remembering the Garfield rape from a few years ago instead. It was on a field trip.

That police report is absolutely chilling.

Cap hill said…
Garfield is not a well run school. There are some excellent teachers there (I have two kids there and 6 cumulative years of experience) but buyer beware.

Many of the teachers are outright hostile to the HCC cohort of kids (see: APP is Apartheid stickers, and you know those were done by teachers, teachers shaming students, Honors for All).

The administration is dismissive of parents and frequently rolls out programs with zero consultation (see: Honors for all, all african american males assigned to Ray Willis for counseling, limits on AP course load, elimination of AP world for 9th graders, elimination of POST).

The administration does not meet with parents, attend PTSA meetings or attend curriculum night.

The athletic department seems to be extremely shady (see: recent football players imported from Texas).

Many teachers believe that they can make up their own rules with no accountability (see: Carol Burton, Olympic Peninsula field trip that resulted in the rape of a student).

While i agree that unfortunately, a shooting incident could happen anywhere, I have to disagree with the thought that Garfield is somehow being unfairly maligned. I have three kids who have attended >10 total schools (as we relocated a few times). Never have I encountered such stunningly bad management and open hostility to parents as I have seen at Garfield.

That said, if you are a deep believer in all of the religion of the far left these days, you will find many things to love about Garfield.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Glad the students reported the incident to the staff and that they contacted the authorities.
I am not sure that the teacher's omission should be grounds for her to resign, but rather an opportunity for teachers and administrators to learn to discern real threats.
One friend with middle school boys was telling me how a lot of boys continuously joke and text about killing each other.
We live in a very difficult time, we should try to make sure we give everyone a chance to learn from mistakes.

- Sky
NESeattleMom said…
Oldy Timer,
When I think of my children, I think of precious humans. I also think that of other children. Your comment putting down children does not sound very compassionate. Why are you putting down children on an education blog? I am thinking of a child I know who sadly took his life this month. I am thinking of the Florida children. They are our country's future, and it is our job as adults to try our best to do a good job for them as well as we can do. Sarcastically putting children down is not kind nor is it helpful.
Anonymous said…
I agree completely, Sky. I have real issues arresting children for verbalizing threats without any real means or intention to carry them out, in a country where mass shootings are as common as rain. Surely there must be some intervention short of arrest. These kids need help which they almost certainly will not get in the criminal justice system.

So folks, please ignore Oldy Timer who cannot be civil about children. I will handle any further comments.

FYI, Garfield has an online academic survey. I cannot access it as it is student code protected. Apparently, the district doesn't know about it and I'm waiting for a link. If you have a Garfield student, could you send them to the Garfield website to take the survey? I'd be interested to know what the questions are.

I hadn't heard the teacher resigned which makes me sad; people do make mistakes. But just to note, the student had Snapchatted a photo of a revolver. Did the student have access to that gun? No idea but it is important to tell kids that this is a difficult period in our country and joking can lead to trouble (just as joking about bombs at an airport can get you pulled out of line).
Anonymous said…
We just took the survey which was lengthy. (Thank you, I didn't know about it.) Survey began by asking whether the student believes learning ability is inherently fixed or malleable, then moves on to ask about the student's general traits with regard to school coursework, whether the student has commitments and responsibilities outside of school, what the student's proximate and ultimate educational goals are, which three staff members is the student most likely to approach for curriculum advice. Then the survey moves on to questions about AP - whether the student is currently or planning to take AP classes and the reasons for taking them, whether the student feels that AP classes are truly open to all, and what the school can do to make participation in AP classes more likely if they are not planning to take them.

I was also told that it asked a student if they had been placed in an AP class without signing up themselves, would they stay.
Anonymous said…
Yes it did ask that. The responses were Yes/No/Maybe with more information. I initially considered copying and pasting but it was many pages long with a single question per page.

I sensed from the survey that the school is considering students being automatically recommended for AP classes if teachers feel it is appropriate.

Anonymous said…
Blech - Putting unwilling students in a rigorous class is a good way to totally derail it.

I see the school has lost confidence in its ability to encourage kids to voluntarily challenge themselves

But without buy-in this is not going to end well.

Anonymous said…
I disagree. Students would have an opportunity to "opt out" vs "opting in", and nudges have been proven to work well in numerous fields. Who better to judge a student's ability than their teacher? Some kids are simply not expected to take the most challenging courses available though they they may be well-suited for them.

Anyway, this is only speculation at this point.

Anonymous said…
Re: Garfield survey: were there no questions about running start? Such as, ‘What made you go take running start courses?’, and ‘what could we have done or what courses could we have put into your schedule or offered at Garfield to keep you here in high school?’.

Was this mostly/only aimed at lower achievers and ignored needs of high achievers? Is this school “making the floor the effective ceiling”? (That was a phrase Charlie M use to sometimes say in various other contexts). Was the growth mindset only relevant to certain types of learners? Why? Isn’t growth good for every student?

I am horrified the Garfield student allegedly threatened gun violence. I know that can happen anywhere. I am perplexed and saddened that the staff person allegedly didn’t report that onwards. But my reticence at sending our student there is growing based on a totality of factors. ‘Mentoring’ is a waste of time, and yet judging by the survey it does not look like the administration is going to restore direct instructional minutes into the daily school schedule (but would push/put unprepared students into AP courses? That’s been done before in the Federal Way district: their AP failure rate climbed, but likely there are “soft markers” of academic success that cannot be demonstrated by an AP test score. It would be best if Garfield and Tolley would just be fully completely transparent about the direction they’re are taking Garfield in.)

future bulldog???
From the district:

"We are still gathering details as well police reports are often preliminary and details can change. I want to reiterate, the police report indicates that a teacher may have been informed of the threat ahead of when students took it to the principal last Friday. We need to look into that more closely. We take threats of harm very seriously. Next week, when schools return from break, we’ll be refreshing with staff the reporting responsibilities outlined in board policy 4314.

FERPA prohibits us from releasing enrollment status or discipline action taken against the student who was arrested.

I haven’t been able to independently verify who specifically called police, and I see the police report is not specific on that point either."

Future Bulldog, I absolutely agree that both the district and Garfield should be more transparent about what their thinking is for academics.
Anonymous said…
future bulldog??, speculation is a waste of time. Why don't you contact the school directly with your questions? Before making our decision I communicated multiple times with the registrar (Ms Chow), the counselor (Ms Alston), and Principal Howard himself. I found them promptly responsive and helpful.

The "floor as ceiling" criticism is the same one leveled at Honors for All and, as I previously stated, for my child that concern has been unfounded. I'm also fully supportive of the school expanding access to AP classes, should that be the ultimate goal. AP course curricula are standardized so it means zero change for my own student other than potentially increasing the number of AP sections available. Statistically, mean exam performance (AP, SAT, ACT) always falls when the pool of takers is expanded beyond a select few (your Federal Way example). You cannot conclude that instruction quality suffered.

In any event, no matter what changes the Principal or District may or may not envision for Garfield in the future, it will be gentrification that has the greatest impact.

Anonymous said…
@FNH "In any event, no matter what changes the Principal or District may or may not envision for Garfield in the future, it will be gentrification that has the greatest impact."

This is true throughout the entire district. A spotlight might be on Garfield and HCC (scapegoat) but the very same thing is happening between students, income related, at all the other schools as well.
Anonymous said…
@ FNH,

While it's great that you're happy with your 6 months of experience at Garfield, I don't see how your limited experience allows you do address the issue of declining rigor. If you don't have experience with the "old" Garfield classes, you can't really compare the "new" against them. Saying the classes are comparable to your child's private school classes isn't that helpful. Are these 9th grade classes comparable to your student's 8th grade classes? 7th? Was this private school a designated school for academically gifted/highly capable students? Garfield students coming from SPS HCC middle schools have reported the new HFA classes are easier than their middle school HCC classes, and they would seem to be in a much better position to discuss relative changes in rigor.

AP class curricula may be standardized, but that doesn't mean the instruction is. It also doesn't mean all teachers manage to get through the curricula. When you have more students who are unprepared for a class, it will take more review and scaffolding and it allows less time to address what needs to be covered and the depth at which it can be. The idea that simply having more students take AP classes is the ultimate goal even if they aren't actually learning the material is absurd. Have you actually looked at the Federal Way numbers? They aren't pretty. When students can get A's in the AP classes but them fail to get passing scores on the AP exams, that's a sign that yes, instruction quality, and/or grading rigor have indeed declined. [Note: AP exams aren't graded the same way as regular classes. In some cases you don't even have to get 50% of the possible points to still get a passing score. It's not a particularly high bar, and that's why colleges often don't provide a lot of credit (if any) for AP scores.] The goal should be to have more students QUALIFIED FOR AND SUCCEEDING IN AP CLASSES (AS MEASURED BY AP EXAM PASSAGE), not just more students taking the classes. It's time to move past doing things for that sake of simple optics. Taking an AP class and getting a wildly inflated grade on your high school transcript isn't likely to help you know what it takes to succeed in college.

Anonymous said…
@ Jane, I would argue that what FNH said (and your extension of the idea) re: gentrification is only partly true. Yes, this is a big factor, and in the absence of any other big changes likely WILL be the thing that has the greatest impact everywhere. However, there are big things that principals CAN do that can have great impacts as well. Like eliminating/minimizing access to accelerated learning in a designated HCC site, which has the effect of driving HC students away, which leads to decreased rigor overall, which will likely be reflected in Garfield's school rating as fewer and fewer students take and pass AP exams. That won't be due to gentrification--that will be due to school administrative priorities and policies.

Ed said…
My land and HQ staff fear Ted.

Ted stokes that with his own "police officer" who sits outside his office.

Hopefully a new sup (and board) can change the intimidation.
Ed said…
Anonymous said…
I would second everything CapHill wrote about Garfield and add that it's pre-occupations with over-the-top Social Justice Warrior training and obsession with always making the news, has turned Garfield into an institution where double-standards are now the norm. It does not surprise me at all that the teacher blew-off the warnings and protected this potentially dangerous student at risk and potential expense to the lives of many other students. This is the new reality in this City, not just our schools, but it's alive and thriving at Garfield, right now. WSDWG
Anonymous said…
optix, my child arrived at Garfield from one of the highest pass rate international schools in the world (100% French Bac, 99% IB), with high honors and seven years of CTP4/ERB scores consistently in the top 1% of the private school norm group. We sought a truly full-spectrum public school experience with excellent academics and arts programs and Garfield is quite unique in offering that, and we purchased a home in the Garfield zone that is not our primary residence. We had, and continue to have, multiple options for schooling including our previous school and can leave at any time. Garfield has served us well thus far and my child has chosen to remain for at least another year. This is the background that informs my child's Honors for All opinion. It is no more or less valid than others but I offer it in contrast to the negative assumptions which I confess unnerved me a bit before we arrived, after reading them here.

NESeattleMom said…
Ed, which employee do you mean when you say "police officer" outside principal's door? First of all, there is a hallway there. Second of all, the next place someone could sit is the main office. Do you mean staff screens access to the principal? I had an issue with my graduating senior and did not agree with the principal. However, I did have as much access as I wanted with him. He just did not do what I was requesting. Many other parents met with him on my behalf.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
NESeattleMom said…
Reposting for Anonymous--Many of these comments are either ill-informed or blatant lies. I have two freshmen at Garfield and they are both enrolled in AP history, biology, and language arts via honors for all. You can share your opinions but please don't spread falsehoods.
2/23/18, 11:52 AM

NESeattleMom said…
Dear Anonymous at 11:52,
I have a freshman at GHS. It is my understanding that Honors for All for 9th graders is both Language Arts and Social Studies (history). The info I have is that the teachers for both LA and History work together on similar topics and projects. Can you please verify that your students have AP history? That would surprise me if it was available to your two freshmen.
"...we purchased a home in the Garfield zone that is not our primary residence. "

And are you using that address to get into Garfield? Yes, gentrification in action.

Freshmen taking AP History? Is that right?
Anonymous said…
Anon @ 11:52, Garfield policy is that freshman can't take AP history--they are in Honors for All language arts and social studies like all the other 9th graders. Are you suggesting your freshmen somehow got some special privilege that other 9th graders don't get? Or are you maybe confusing "Honors for All" with AP? They are not the same thing. Funny that you call others' comments lies when your own statements are contrary to Garfield policy. She we assume it's an honest mistake and not blatant lies?

not sure

Anonymous said…
True, Melissa, I acknowledge our small role in this changed neighborhood. Our primary residence is thousands of miles away, though, not across town. Much too far for "using an address", lol. We are living in our Central District home.

My 9th grader is in HFA History, will take AP History next year.

NESeattleMom said…
Welcome to GHS. My 9th grader is happy there and enjoying Honors for All too. He is glad he is having a similar experience to his older sibling 2016 grad and looking forward to AP classes next year.
Anonymous said…
Seriously, seems like FNH is *trying* d e s p e r a t e l y to sway 8th grade students in the HCC cohort who would could feed to Ballard or Roosevelt High School to choose Garfield instead because Garfield is so great AND there's been no deterioration in teaching and learning. Yet, they only just arrived there. Claiming freshmen could take AP history was misleading (okay, a curious typo), but since FNH states their freshman is taking biology, that was a student who was never part of HCC, regardless of their extraordinary private school education, that student was unqualified to skip ahead into chemistry. FNH states they specifically purchased a home in the Garfield attendance area... soooo, someone who purchased a home in an area has a vested interest in keeping a property value up by being mapped directly to a strong high school, and having a robust contingent of enrolled HC students from the HCC middle school programs achieves that end. So, saying what you think will recruit HCC students may be what is going on here. Not saying this is what is happening, but...

Bottom line is the school student shooter near-miss is a horrifying situation. That a teacher did not report it is frightening to us. That this blog comment section has meandered the way it has, with some remarkable aspects of the survey coming to light, is telling.

We may pick RHS because it may prove to be the best fit with less uncertainty of the 4 year path ahead. Stability is very attractive to a family that has been through splits/exits/new schools.


see: School Quality and Property Values By David Wang, Duke University: "... In these three papers, we see a wide variety of techniques used to analyze public school test scores and house prices, yet arrive at the conclusion that standardized test scores do impact housing prices"
NESeattleMom said…
undecided, Many families can't choose RHS vs. GHS--a) if they don't live in the RHS area; b) if they aren't in the track for GHS. Who is discussing home values? When you move to a city you have to choose where to live. Every family has to make that decision.
Yes, this discussion did veer off somewhat. But Garfield is a big school with veteran parents and new parents; I’m sure everyone has an opinion.

My main point, though, that Garfield is run in an autocratic and yet sloppy manner is hard to dispute. No other high school seems to have as much ongoing churn as Garfield. Given the gentrification, the hostility to HC and lack of interest in parents and their thoughts on education by the administration, it will be interesting to see what Garfield looks like in five years.
NESeattleMom said…
undecided, you have mixed together anonymous with FNH... in your reply about AP World
Another NW said…
Just adding that other schools have had issues as well - a 10th grader recently was found with a gun in his backpack at school at Ballard High. I think it's safe to assume we are all in the same boat in terms of feeling like our kids are unsafe at school, which is sad.

NESeattleMom said…
Another NW,
You are right that we are all in the same boat.
This local article about a snapchat "threat" caused fear at many schools. New Mexico student said it was a "joke".
Anonymous said…
NESeattleMom, thanks for the welcome.

undecided, I honestly could not care less where you or anyone else decide to send your child. How on earth would that make one bit of difference for me? Seattle fortunately offers multiple good options all over town. Find your family's best fit.

You do have me confused with another poster about taking AP History as a freshman and presumptions about sequence do not universally apply, especially for students coming from outside SPS.

I'm certain Garfield has plenty of faults (see Cap Hill above) but specific ones that are repeated as dogma such as weak academics in freshman Honors for All courses, from posters with zero experience at Garfield, are refuted by our own, direct, current Garfield experience. And so I offer a countervailing view for those families who may be trying to decide. Wherever they choose to go in the end though, affects my family not one bit. Trust me, we are good.

GarfieldMom said…
I'm a Garfield parent with seven years experience there and I agree with FNH (welcome to Garfield!). My kids also came from a rigorous private school background (most students going on to the top private high schools in the area) and I believe they have had more opportunity for learning at Garfield than ever before, in part thanks to the strong and diverse curriculum and some really outstanding teachers. I've seen nothing to suggest that their privately schooled former classmates are getting any better academics. My son has gone on to a well-known arts school and my daughter has been accepted to a rigorous, selective university. I have seen no drop in academic rigor during the time we've been enrolled there. My kids took honors and AP classes throughout.

It's flatly untrue that the admin doesn't attend curriculum nights. I've been to every curriculum night since we started at Garfield and the admin has always been there.

The kids in Parkland remind me a lot of Garfield kids. I spend a lot of time volunteering at the school. I've met hundreds of students, and overall they have impressed me with their thoughtfulness, passion, engagement with the world around them, effort, responsibility, humor, and kindness. No different than the kids of my generation, except that they are under more stress and have more on their shoulders than we ever did. The kids are alright.
From KUOW:

"My KUOW colleague, John Ryan, is looking for Garfield parents/students with reactions to reports of a teacher mishandling a student's school shooting threat. If you'd like to share your thoughts today, he's at Thanks!"

GarfieldMom, it may be true that administration (and I think we are all talking about Mr. Howard) goes to curriculum night but he certainly shut down PTA efforts to talk about Honors for All. That was odd.
Anonymous said…
Garfield used to offer AP World History in 9th, but offerings & pathway HC students take at Garfield are now much more similar/same as other schools like Ballard & Roosevelt. Garfield offers the same AP opportunities as other schools that also offer AP world history in 10th grade as well, as other AP & CIH classes. Garfield has had issues, but is still a really great school. There are also additional SPS schools that are also super strong and are closer for many families etc. Seriously, if all the HC kids at BHS,RHS & IHS would have fed into Garfield it would have exploded beyond the current capacity crisis. In addition, the city has been gentrifying and there has also been an explosion in growth of all kids and spectrum & academically high achieving kids in general. That does not seem to get as much attention as growth in HC, but the data is clear.
Cap hill said…
I would encourage any parents considering a high school choice to talk to a variety of parents as well as consult the SPS school climate data, which I believe is the only aggregated set of data. If you take a look at the survey, Garfield scores in the lowest quartile for each of the categories (Parent Influence, Educational Quality, Welcoming Climate). So based on the aggregate responses of 314 families (about 1/5 of the school) there is a distinct set of problems that are quantifiably worse than other high schools in the district.

I do agree that there are some excellent teachers there. However, we seem as a city and as a district to be more accepting of general mediocrity and no accountability than we are any divergence from the social justice agenda. My point being: I don't think Ted or any of the teachers at Garfield can get fired for poor student growth or not engaging with parents (and by the way, the district has data on student growth - they just don't want us to see it). I think they are allowed to get away with all of that as long as they toe an ideological line. We are so preoccupied with race and identity politics in this city that conversations about anything else go nowhere.
Anonymous said…
I have a child at Garfield, and I'm grateful to the students who escalated the report of the threats they heard. They did the right thing, and while the threats may have been empty, they may have materialized into something awful, so it's smart to report. As for the teacher who received the initial report, I'm not going to pass judgement on how that was handled. I don't/can't know the exact circumstances, and I'm sure it would have been hard for her to know how to handle the report, especially if there's been no training on this for the staff at the school. It sounds like additional planning and preparedness will be a positive outcome of this situation.

On another note, I've heard Garfield will be piloting an 8-period day schedule starting in the 2019-2020 school year. It's already been announced to the kids, although I haven't seen anything official to parents (I may have missed it). From what I've heard, this means that AP classes will double-block two periods together, with the result being that a max of 3 APs could be taken at once, given other requirements. I'm not sure of these details, but if this is true, families who are currently considering their plans for enrollment next year should know this going in.

Have other parents heard of the 8-period day starting at Garfield in 2019-2020? Will it also be rolled out at other schools that year, or just Garfield? When will other schools be starting this new schedule, or is it still possible that the district won't roll this out widely if it doesn't go well at Garfield? Will start and end times stay the same with the 8-period day?

-Seattle parent
Anonymous said…
Seattle parent,

From the article: "By the 2019-20 school year every comprehensive high school in Seattle will be implementing the eight period day schedule."

According to my child the response among students is mostly negative, but my child doesn't mind. We are used to an 8-period day and a longer school day.

Anonymous said…
"Teflon Ted"

very disrespectful and against blog rules
regarding name calling.

Dog Whistles
Anonymous said…
The article is wrong. Other schools will be allowed to stay on a 7 period day (not limiting APs) if they can make it work. It is true they will all be moving from a 6 period day. None of them will be any longer than the current day.

No Guns
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt and Ballard will also move to 8 periods but one principal told me each AP class will not take up two periods. It will vary. There will also be more room for electives.
Anonymous said…
Roosevelt and Ballard will also move to 8 periods but one principal told me each AP class will not take up two periods. It will vary. There will also be more room for electives.
Garfield Staff Member said…
I am so disappointed in the ease in which people will believe that a teacher ignored a reported threat from students. Think about it. A student comes to a teacher and privately tells her that a student is making threats against the school and other students. Do you really believe anyone would ignore that? Shame on you. As teachers we are trained in how to handle situations like that, but to be honest, nobody in this day and age needs to tell us what to do if anyone reports a possible threat to student safety. So why wasn’t the threat reported? None of us know because we weren’t there to know what happened that day. Why aren’t we waiting to hear the entire story before we hang the teacher out to dry? Now to the larger picture – school safety. I only know of one SPS high school that locks all of their doors to everyone, where people must wait to be buzzed in – Cleveland. Walk into that school and you will be met by security to make sure you belong. If we want that in every school, fine, but if we don’t want that then don’t expect that 110 adults can 100% control 1900 students and what they do, what they have in their backpack, and when they access those items in their bags. It is very scary to know that a student could walk into a school with a gun in their backpack and NOBODY would know. Think about that. Nobody would know – until it was too late. We have a bigger problem out there. Please don't slam the school/admin/teacher - help us think about a solution.
Anonymous said…
Per Cap hill's suggestion, I looked at the school climate survey data myself and collated the referenced data points below for all of Seattle's non-alternative high schools. These data do not reveal any statistically meaningful differences.

Number of Families Responding:
Ballard - 389
Chief Sealth - 96
Cleveland - 101
Franklin - 117
Garfield - 314
Ingraham - 274
Nathan Hale - 206
Rainier Beach - 45
Roosevelt - 464
West Seattle - 149

Parent/Family Influence and Decision Making (% Favorable):
Ballard - 61
Chief Sealth - 60
Cleveland - 73
Franklin - 69
Garfield - 59
Ingraham - 68
Nathan Hale - 72
Rainier Beach - 73
Roosevelt - 62
West Seattle - 57

School Educational Quality (% Favorable):
Ballard - 67
Chief Sealth - 62
Cleveland - 76
Franklin - 72
Garfield - 66
Ingraham - 72
Nathan Hale - 77
Rainier Beach - 75
Roosevelt - 72
West Seattle - 63

Welcoming and Culturally Appropriate School Climate (% Favorable):
Ballard - 62
Chief Sealth - 64
Cleveland - 79
Franklin - 74
Garfield - 62
Ingraham - 73
Nathan Hale - 78
Rainier Beach - 74
Roosevelt - 67
West Seattle - 61

Anonymous said…
FNH, if you “honestly could care less” about influencing blog reader’s high school choice, why would you take the time to gather data from 10 (!) school climate data reports?

Also, I question your definition of no “statistically meaningful” differences. I might shrug at differences +/-5 pts., but there are % gaps of 10 pts or more between Garfield and schools with the highest % favorable response.

Six schools have a greater than 5 % pt positive difference for educational quality. Even if you don’t include RB in the tally due to small respondent base, that’s still more than half.

I’d say significant.

Anonymous said…
@ Garfield Staff Member, who's hanging the teacher out to dry? How many even know who the teacher is? Apparently the teacher resigned the day the perceived threat was re-reported (presumably to someone else). If the teacher didn't feel she had seriously erred, why do that? It's not like this is the first time a Garfield or SPS staff member has made a mistake, and others have managed to keep their jobs...

And c'mon, Garfield doesn't exactly have a stellar reputation when it comes to strict discipline and playing by the rules/guidelines, right? Given past incidents, this, whether accurate or not, is completely believable.

Shoofitz Wherritt
Anonymous said…

I take the time because this blog was a real disservice to my family, giving me false worry where none was needed. It is frequently NOT a source of information but merely a place to vent grudges or repeat vaguely negative "feels". That causes real harm to families making an important decision. I try to refrain from commenting where I have no immediate experience or evidence to contribute.

For what it's worth, I authored a textbook chapter on statistical analysis back in the day.


Anonymous said…
Garfield Staff Member,

Not everyone is so quick to condemn the teacher. It is impossible to do so fairly without knowing all of the details, which will become clearer after the necessary review.

NESeattleMom said…
I appreciate the things I learn on this blog, some of which is very slanted because of posters' personal opinions. However many people share their expertise, and that improves my knowledge. It is up to me to filter it for myself. The naysayers are often pointed toward both HCC and GHS. I think other schools may have problems too but they don't have people posting about them on this blog.
Anonymous said…
I do too, it is a useful source of information and updates. I should have been more careful in my previous comment not to imply that the entire blog is a disservice. It is certainly not, but the drumbeat of bias against certain schools can be. Thank you Melissa.

FNH, no, this blog is a forum where many thoughts and opinions are welcome. A wise parent knows that many stories, like yours, are just that - yours. Sometimes people are harsh but you have to use your own judgment.

I kind of suspect you are not just some random parent but whoever you are, welcome.

As for the teacher, I was quite surprised at the speed with which she resigned. There may be more to the story and it may have been better to resign. It is unlikely we will ever know.
Anonymous said…
Please explain how short of selling your home and moving it's possible to attend any high school besides your assigned school? Seems like a long shot at best.

MSS, well, there is Center High and Nova High - those are alternative high schools that are very popular with the students who choose them.

As I have said previously, I suspect with all the building going on around the city, that some parents may rent an apartment near a school for the address. (It's probably cheaper than private school.)

But no, short of selling and moving, it will be become harder to get into a non-attendance area school (unless you play football or basketball, then it's very easy).
Anonymous said…
You actually have to play those sports very, very well to transfer.

Same as for talented musicians who can attend Garfield from anywhere in the city and HCC students who get 2 or 3 choices for high school.

Talent is concentrated intentionally by the district.

That's how the top performers are challenged and given the opportunity to excel.

NESeattleMom said…
No Ted, talented musicians cannot attend Garfield unless they are living in Garfield's zone or are HCC students who have GHS as their pathway. For athletes, from what I have read in the newspaper, in order to go to a different high school from where you are attending, you also have to live in that zone. Or, there are some athletes who get an exception because of having no regular home. Is there any other way? I don't think so.
Anonymous said…
Melissa, I have a history of commenting and asking questions on this blog, albeit a sporadic one. Either I'm just another Seattle parent or a Russian bot playing a very long game, I suppose the objective being to overcrowd Garfield to the point of its literal bursting? Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Anonymous said…
If you question the dominant blog narrative, you start getting your character or authenticity impugned and speculated upon in quick order.

My knowledge of Garfield and Ted Howard is nil. What I have observed consistently is that Howard is a target here, to the point where fake information is spread and "opinions" are treated like facts.

The HCC blog is having plenty of push-back from Garfield parents who are refuting this negative narrative about the principal, staff, and school.

It's always interesting to me how many of the parents who trash the school currently have their students there, including (by their own admission) freshman and sophmores.

IMO, Honors for All is the real issue and it's about a loss of control for many people who are used to being in control. Being outsmarted by the staff was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Sour Grapes
Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing the school climate survey results. The differences look significant to me. In particular I note that Hale, a school routinely derided on this blog, ranks high among all three categories of educational quality, parent/family influence, and welcoming atmosphere. Hale is either #1 or #2 in all cases.
Anonymous said…
@NP You would also have to correlate the number of families responding, as well as correlate to the % of students enrolled. I would also look at a multi year comparison. There actually is no meaningful statistical significance when you run the data.
Anonymous said…
@Sour Grapes, Are you saying Garfield staff created Honors for All just to "outsmart" Garfield families? I thought they did it to give more students academic rigor. No?

If what you say is true, that sounds political and vindictive and doesn’t speak well for the school administration. Contrary to your apparent intention(?), you are only affirming the worst suspicions some have about the school.

Sweet Wine
Anonymous said…
Sweet Wine, perhaps you want to reread Sour Grapes' post, particularly the part about having no first-hand knowledge of Garfield or its principal. Your post is quite a false leap in logic.

Yes, to what Researcher says, and NP, in seeing the survey numbers I immediately had the same thought on both of your points about Hale.

Anonymous said…
Hale is derided on this blog? We are a happy Hale family, and I don't see that on here. It is different than some of the other schools, which people rightly comment on, and it's not a perfect fit for the most academic kids. It is not as advanced as many of our other local schools. But if you are more interested in community than push push push academics all the time, it's a wonderful experience.

Anonymous said…
@FNH, Where's the "false leap in logic"? I only quoted Sour Grapes. "Outsmarted" is a strange word to use to describe a school's attitude toward its families, wouldn't you say? It doesn't imply a sound decision made in collaboration between the school and parents. If Sour Grapes genuinely doesn't have any real knowledge of Garfield or in fact know the motivation behind the change in question, then SourG is the one making "false leaps." That kind of insinuation does a disservice to the school.

Sweet Wine
I have never heard of musicians being given a choice of schools but I'll ask the district.

HC kids only got a choice because most schools were not able to deliver HC services for them. Not because they deserved more choices. And, if the Board/staff plan goes thru, then you'll see those kids getting one choice (or Nova or Center) just like everyone else.

Sour Grapes, there is no mistaking how many incidents have happened at Garfield under Mr. Howard. I know of no other high school with that many and if do know one, let me know. I know Mr. Howard loves Garfield and is dedicated to it. It doesn't make him a good administrator.

I agree with Sweet Wine; how odd to say that HC parents were "outsmarted" when the goal was equity. Was the sub-goal to take HC parents down a notch? What an weird thing for a school community or administration to want.

But here's the thing - no matter what the administration or teachers want, the area that Garfield sits in is changing. I note that CM Johnson is sponsoring a measure to try to shore up the Central Area's long-time black population but gentrafication is happening day by day. The numbers of black residents in the Central district (and I suspect other minority groups) has gone down.

Who goes to Garfield is going to change. It will be interesting if those parents feel welcome or chose to go elsewhere.
And I'll just say that I have great respect for all the high schools. I've met most of the administrators of those schools and I think we generally have good principals.

That you sometimes hear dissenting views on different high schools, well, parents have differing opinions. The best thing to do is go to a school, talk to students, staff and teachers, ask around and then judge.
Anonymous said…
@FNH, can you, and/or another Garfield 9th grade parent(s), share copies of syllabi, paper/project requirements, grading guidelines, etc. for Honors for All LA and SS classes? It would be helpful for those of us trying better assess whether the level of rigor is appropriate for our students, how much variation there is between teachers, etc.

Flying blind
Cap hill said…
@FNH, we probably don't agree on many things, which is fine. I'm glad your kids are having a great experience at Garfield.

That said, there are a number of data points which should really trouble you. The large volume of incidents, the feedback on the surveys, the changes that are being made without consulting parents. I also want to point out that when the new PTSA leadership at Garfield started this year, their goal was just to get Ted Howard to meet with them. The PTSA leadership from last year convened a meeting with past presidents from the past ~5 years as they were considering winding down the PTSA - because of a total lack of willingness by the administration to engage.

Granted, you are probably sensitized most to this if you are an HCC parent, particularly a white one, given the obvious hostility. Nobody wants their kids to attend a school where they are called apartheid supporters. I had a teacher tell me point blank during the Honors for All mess "your kids are not my concern."

I'm not sure how any of that is helpful or productive. And while you are having a great experience 6 months in, a school with a broken governance system that is hostile to parents is more than likely going to be your problem too - just ask the African American parents who were angry as hell when their kids were all assigned to Ray Willis - a guy who is under investigation as we speak.
Anonymous said…
As to statistical significance of Climate Surveys, Garfield's sample size was large enough to compare against the benchmark District avg. for the past 3 school years at a 90%-95% (depending on year) confidence level with 5% margin of error. The other factor – sampling error – isn’t possible for me to gauge given what information is publicly available.

However, PASS’s collective bargaining agreement includes Climate Survey data as one of the measurement tools to evaluate Principals, and the District does appear to use this data for goal setting and evaluation.

So…the data is significant as to its utility and application by the district even if not every school sample meets what may be strictly defined as statistical significance at the industry standard.

What is noticeable is that Garfield performed below the district average in key measures the past 3 years with the most foreboding data from the Staff. Their response rate tanked Spring ’17, and those that did respond – well, it wasn’t good.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Sour Grapes said:

Honors for All was/is clever. I'd never heard of such a thing. Have you?

Sure. It's just a variation on the "8th grade Algebra I for all" model...which, upon evaluation, was found to provide a lower level of challenge--more like "Algebra Lite."

The only "clever" thing about the Garfield HFA approach is that they were clever enough to very quickly pick up on comments made here on this blog (and likely elsewhere) that outright eliminating honors opportunities for 9th grade HC students would be illegal, so Principal Howard's assertion that they were eliminating honors was quickly reframed as HFA. They slapped a new name on it and voila!


Sour Grapes, I will issue this warning but once; we do NOT out people here at the blog. You may think you know who someone is but you can never be sure. Don't do it.
NESeattleMom said…
I think the HFA at GHS was a “social justice”-based teacher-led initiative that the principal decided was a good idea. I believe it was based on the feeling that there were some kids who could achieve more, and that the great racial divide at Garfield should be reduced, if possible. The way in unfolded is typical GHS principal method—wait till it is happening then share. It doesn’t make him somehow bad, in my opinion, it is just different than some other administrators, like the JAMS principal who was very explicit in advance (in my opinion) of what to expect. The GHS principal has a challenging job. I, for one, am glad there is a black principal for the main Central District high school. I think he takes his job seriously and tries to do what he thinks is right. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea, including mine. The students also don’t want a great divide, from anecdotal stories I have heard. But they do want their school day to be worthwhile, so it is challenging with the various educational, cultural and socioeconomic levels in the school, including large numbers of students dealing with homelessness in their life.
Anonymous said…
The person "outed" himself on this blog when running for the position, using the name that he is using now.

That is the only reason I know who he is.

Sour Grapes
And that's fine, Sour Grapes, but you'll have to leave it at that. Because we have had cases - recently - of people appropriating other people's monikers and it causes confusion.

No one knows for certain who is who here 100% of the time except for those of us who sign our names.
Anonymous said…
Sour Grapes, many of us know who you are, no matter the pseudonym du jour, but we don’t out you. Show the same courtesy to others that you are privileged with despite what you feel in the moment.

King Phil
Cap hill said…
@NESeattleMom -

It was a teacher-led initiative, but you are missing a few things. The Principal told parents on several occasions that it wasn't happening, that the teachers were not ready and that a plan to address the real challenges you outline would be socialized with all parents the following year.

The Principal then decided to announce (per optic's comments) in the Seattle Times after school was out, with no communications to families, that he was eliminating all honors classes for 9th graders. The main topic of the article was not the racial divide, but the level of racial disparity in discipline that was created under his watch - and specific criticisms of him by african american parents. You can decide if there is a connection there.

This isn't his school, nor is it the teachers. The school is not for one group it is for everyone, and it needs to be run in a way that is both inclusive and creates accountability for outcomes. Look back at all of the commitments made by the HFA teachers - quarterly checkins, data on individual student growth. None of it has materialized.

You or anyone else may read this and because you believe in the intent, might feel ok with it, as is your right. However, I would suggest two things to you. First, stick around Garfield long enough and you'll be on the other side of the situation. Second, if we as parents continue to accept the lack of structure and data because the Principal is african american and because people have some ideas to try, we are going to end up with what our expectations are: a fairly mediocre school but one that has some level of social justice talk.
NESeattleMom said…
Thanks Cap hill,
This is my 5th year as a GHS parent, incl. a one year gap. It is easy for people to forget some of the details, including me....Institutional memory is very helpful so we don't unintentionally rewrite history. I am crossing my fingers that all goes well for my 9th grader during the next 3.5 years.
Anonymous said…
@No Guns "The article is wrong. Other schools will be allowed to stay on a 7 period day (not limiting APs) if they can make it work. It is true they will all be moving from a 6 period day. None of them will be any longer than the current day."

No the article at Garfield is correct. You are under a misunderstanding, I suggest you clarify directly with the principal whom you misunderstood. Next year in 2018 one school will be moving to a 7 period day. In 2019 that same school will move to an 8 period day same as all schools.
Anonymous said…
Which school is moving to a 7 period day next year? Garfield?

Anonymous said…
@ ML, are you sure? The prior discussion was re: moving to an 8-period SCHEDULE, not an 8-period DAY. The 8-period schedule would mean 4 classes on alternating days, with maybe some shorter period days that had them all (or some other configuration to make it work).

An 8-period DAY would mean more time spent in passing periods, and very short classes. This is the first mention I've heard of this approach

Anonymous said…
@Unclear -8 period schedule at comprehensive (Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt etc) high schools in 2019, not all high schools.
Anonymous said…
Unclear, I am on a high school BLT. This is not a done deal. ML is mistaken. There will be changes for Core 24, but high schools are allowed flexibility and are currently working on how to make this work in building.

Anonymous said…
Hale only needs half a credit more to meet the 24 credit requirement.

Anonymous said…
@ ML, I'm not talking about who is implementing (comprehensives vs. all). I'm talking about the distinction between an 8-class schedule vs. an 8-period day. They are NOT necessarily the same thing, and I haven't seen anything to suggest, as you stated, that our high schools are moving toward an 8-PERIOD DAY in 2019. Maybe you are confused? If you have documentation that suggests this to be the case, please share.

From the Garfield article: "Currently, the district is looking into modeling our schedule after the Bellingham school district’s schedule.“Somebody from the district came to a meeting this morning that a bunch of us sat in and he said that there is a lot of interest in moving toward the Bellingham model,” said McBride. This would mean students would go to four periods a day, alternating depending on the day of the week (as well as an advisory period)."

“Many teachers believe that they can make up their own rules with no accountability (see: Carol Burton, Olympic Peninsula field trip that resulted in the rape of a student).“

Cap Hill wrote this but I want all readers to read my comment.

Words have meaning. Grammar has meaning.

That statement the Cap Hill wrote makes it sound like Ms Burton, a music teacher at Garfield,had a connection to the peninsula field trip where a rape occurred. She does not any connection to that event.

She was the lead teacher on a music trip where a student, new to Garfield who had been exited from his private school for inappropriate touching, was not made known to Burton or any other Garfield teacher. He was accused of inappropriately touching a girl on that trip.

I will say that a few adults on the trip used poor judgment in what students were allowed to do and what a few adults did.

Again, if the district had a very clear policy on field trips, right down to how students are assigned to rooms, curfew, etc., then I believe there would be far fewer incidents.
NESeattleMom said…
Thanks for your clarification, MW. Yes, sentence structure can make a difference in meaning.

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