Superintendent Finalists Speak

Last night's event at JSCEE to introduce the finalists for the superintendent post certainly seemed to illuminate the differences among them.  The finalists are Jeanice Swift, Andre Spencer and Denise Juneau.  Swift and Juneau were, to me, the best of the three.  I'll have a separate thread on my thoughts on who it should get the job and why but I'll devote this thread on what was said.

The JSCEE auditorium had been enlarged with chairs set on the diagonal which was good because the room was nearly full.  All the Board members were present with President Harris, when not doing the introductions, sat in the audience, and Director Geary decided to stand at one side.  (She later told me that she had interviewed the candidates already and was interested to gauge the audience reaction.  I was doing the exact same thing.)  The rest of the Board sat in a front row.  Keshia Scarlett, Exec. Dir. of Org Development and Equity, was the moderator and did a fine job (she joked that she was channeling Oprah but yet did not give out cars).

Dr. Swift, who was first up, did help out by asking who was in the room by a show of hands.  There were parents (at least 30+), a few students, some staff, and community members.  The largest minority group by far was African-American.

The candidates were all asked the same questions which were generated from email and in-room questions. There were to be about 15 questions in 45 minutes but not all the candidates got that far. Swift did the most but Spencer did the longest intro so I suspect that's where more time went.

President Harris got each candidate started by asking, "Why here and why now?"  which I thought was a pretty good question but I note that only Swift answered the "why here?" portion of the question. and none answered the "why now?" portion of the question.

However, I was very disappointed with the questions for one big reason.

There was not a question to ask these candidates - all coming from much smaller districts - why they thought they had the abilities to be able to handle an urban district. 

I'll do a quick overview of each candidate's demeanor and personality and then give the questions and each candidate's answers.  They did all seem excited about Seattle and its work on equity.  They were all effective and engaging speakers.  I did not feel any candidate tried to pander to the crowd (except that they all three referenced the opening night Mariners baseball game which got a laugh each time).  

All three went on school tours (to different schools) on and referenced those visits.  I believe each went to an elementary, middle and high school.

Jeanice Swift - a dynamo, she stayed perched on her chair but still managed to radiate a big personality.  By turns humble and confident, she did have the crowd, at times, laughing or nodding.  Some might call her "perky" but I would not underestimate her determination.  She said she had state legislators on "speed-dial" and I don't doubt it.

Intro:  She was the only one who didn't talk about her backstory.  She said that Seattle was diverse and vibrant and that she "resonated" with SPS' goals to get rid of disparities and provide a "rich and full" opportunity to learn for all students.  She said, "When folks know me, they find my leadership is about connection, collaboration and community."  She went on to say the best work comes when all voices are at the table.

Denise Juneau - where Swift is perky, calm.  Juneau is a warm woman who speaks in measured tones.  It may be her law degree training on speaking but she comes across as quietly effective.  Like Swift, I think basing what you might think of her drive on her demeanor would be a mistake.  Juneau preferred to speak standing up.  She seems a thoughtful person.

Intro:  Juneau said her story was one "from Head Start to Harvard."  She mentioned being a teacher, then getting a law degree and then going back to education by running for state superintendent of instruction in Montana.  She talked about how her family was deeply rooted in education; her grandmother a cook in a school, her father a bus driver and attendance officer, her mom worked on alternative education.  Her father also served on a school board and her mother was a state legislator who worked on education issues.

She talked about working with a nearly $1B budget for her office and "working with communities and families on real needs."  She said during her administration that they had increase graduation rates.  She said that there were "exciting things" going in on SPS around equity and "moving the ball forward."

Andre Spencer - like Swift and Juneau before him, he's personable and confident.   He was warm and you could feel the audience being comfortable with him.  He not only stood the whole time but moved around a bit, smiling a lot.  He did talk a lot about partnerships but did mention the word "business" over and over.  He seems a genuine person.

Intro: He spoke of feeling "marginalized" growing up in inner city Baltimore.  Spencer talked about the huge influence that his hard-working mother with six children had on his life and her telling him to study hard in order to move ahead.   He also spoke of a science teacher, Mr. Clem, who he had for both 7th and 9th grades and how Clem referred to students as "scientists."  it made him decide to become a science teacher as well.  He said that teachers, bus drivers, kitchen staff, etc. "are the first touchpoint" for students. As for coming to Seattle, he said, "I want to listen and learn and work together."

(I did try to get the wording right but Scarlett did alter it slightly from person to person so I condensed the wording.  Also, I think some questions may have been asked out of order for different candidates. )

1.  There is a theme around family and community engagement from underserved communities.  What would you do to include those families?

Swift - Hearing voice is key and critical; hearing all voices.  She said, for example, this is a great crowd here tonight but she knows that in every gathering, there are some voices not heard or even able to be there.  She said in her district, she goes out of her office because she wants to meet families "where they are."

She said face-to-face is good but offering online resources is also good and that she's working on social media as well.

Juneau - She stated that as superintendent, they created "Schools of Promise" and worked with schools that struggled with academic rigor.  She said they met with communities and were "truthful about the data" but that there were also issues of deep, generational poverty issues to consider as well.

She said she had never met a parent who didn't want a better life for their child and that comes thru education. She said, "We don't need a higher wall but a longer table" and to find those people who don't feel included and bring those strengths into the school.

Spencer - He said "you have to be a listener and learner."  He said, "I'm coming to your neighborhood."  He said his district had organized a group to go out on "a Harrison walk" and visit students who dropped out to try to ask what they need in order to return and get a diploma.

2.  Issues of equity in PTA fundraising.

Swift - She said it was a timely question because the students she visited at Franklin brought it up.  She said that her district had struggled with this as well and "frankly, none of the techniques that we tried hit it out of the park."  She said it was important to set a floor for what schools need to serve children but also to provide them with after-school opportunities.

She said her example is that if you change transportation, that might be an "inconvenience" for better-off parents but it is "make or break" for low-income families.

Juneau - She said she had a conversation with Board members and had been reading about this issue.  She said that in her state there were "foundations" that were school-based (as is the case in SPS as well).  She said they had created, "Graduation Matters" and had 250 small businesses and foundation at the table and how "everyone has a role in public education." She spoke of what they did in Marin County in California.   She said there might need to be a taskforce to move this work along.

Spencer - He said this was a concerning issue for him.  He said he talked to businesses to ask, "How can public education benefit their business?"  He said they had created VIP (Very Important Parent) group.  He said they need to make sure that "folks know what the benefit is for them and then provide to the students."

3.  How will you continue the work of the different district-based taskforces and committees in SPS?

Swift - She said she would "fall in with work" already done and that "I'm mindful that I'm entering but the work has already started"and to be respectful and learn from that.  She referenced the noted education writer, Pedro Noguera, and his comment that inequality exists in our country so it can't be a surprise that it exists in our schools.

She feels that schools can be the ones to reverse that trend and it moves out into society.

Juneau - She said it was important to pull teachers together and do training about cultural differences and privilege.  She said she understood that was happening in SPS at the school level.  She again referenced the work on Graduation Matters and sharing successful practices.

Spencer - He said to "be out in the community."  He spoke of a nonprofit in Colorado Springs that gives homeless students a place to sleep and then the district provides breakfast, lunch and dinner to all (so no stigma on who is getting it).  He talked about helping students understand jobs and how to get there.

4. About workforce diversty - What are ways to address lack of diversity given stats for good outcomes for children of color as well as all children?

Swift - She said that in Michigan they have cold winters but are trying to convince people to come in.  She said that the "grow within your own community" as SPS is doing is a great strategy and it might start with paraprofessionals who already have a commitment to school communities.  She said a "teacher cadet" program in high schools might support and encourage students who might want to be teachers.  She said that may sound like a long timeline but students are anchored in the community.  She said that "kids should see themselves at all levels of the system."

Juneau -She said that in her tour of Cleveland there was one student who spoke about being a techers because of the teachers who reached out and helped him.  She said 98% of Montana teachers are white and the idea of "growing your own" is important.  She said there are student groups for all kinds of topics but why not students being teachers?  (I note that we did have such a club when I was in high school.)

Spencer - He said he "100% believed" that all students benefit from teachers of color" and kids seeing those teachers "doing positive things."  He said his district had set up a "Real Men Read" group for men of color to come in and read with kids as well as high school boys of color coming in and reading to kids.

He said he was the commissioner for the Alliance of Black School Educators and they talk about how to advertise to teachers of color.  He got a big laugh from explaining that African-American teachers were not coming to Colorado to ski.  He said it was things like talking about "where to get your hair taken care of" and making connections.

He said that students who have teachers of color in elementary school, particularly underserved schools, will graduate at a 10% higher rate than those who don't.  He said no one asks these teachers why they don't stay.

5.  Again, about teachers, how to support professional growth?

Swift - "I was blessed to be a teacher for 13 years from 6-12 grade.  She said there had been a "drift" from respecting teachers.  She said it was important to "value" teaching and learning and said students at Franklin had talked about teachers "opening doors for you."

She talked about peer-to-peer help for teachers and said it would be a "priority and commitment."

Juneau - She said that she was impressed with the numbers of Board-certified teachers in SPS and that she understood that to be the best professional growth.  She said the first year of being a teacher was the hardest year she ever had despite training and it certainly taught her how important PD is.

She also spoke of teachers working with children experiencing trauma and the idea of "secondary trauma" and how they worked with teachers on "self-care."

Spencer - Ask teachers what should go into professional development as well as "incentivizing" them. 

6.  About school leaders and continuous improvement and what does that look and sound like?

Swift - We allow "for uniqueness of each campus and its ability to grow in its own way."  She stated that John Maxwell said that "everything rises and falls on leadership."

She said school leaders are finding they have more kids with trauma and the school needs to address that but leaders need that support.

Juneau - She said that principals need to be supported to increase longevity at the building level.

Spencer - He said leaders are the first "touchpoint" and they need to engage their communities.  He said he would have one-on-ones with those leaders and ask them to tell him about those communities and what they need.  He said he had a situation with one high school in developing an IB program and creating a 5-year funding plan.

7. There's a huge push from SEA to work for equity on teams.  What are your thoughts?

Swift - She said "this is the work of this generation" and there is urgency to it.  She said next Wednesday is the anniversary of MLK, Jr.'s assassination and "those of us that call ourselves white allies in the work can see we are not where we hoped to be by now."

She said that Noguera says that superintendents are the Chief Equity Officer in their districts (but she said she thought SPS had someone actually named in that role and she's right).  She said the foundation needs to be laid with a plan in mind but that there is then the reality of schools.  She said it would be "my work to jump in and lead and champion that cause."

Juneau - She said this is what public education is about and they needed to find out "root causes"  She said being in the Native American community that she knows about injustice.  She said that her mother used to say the pledge of allegiance and that, at the end when she got to the words "and justice for all," she would add, "someday."

Spencer - He spoke about working on the change at different levels of students and that there is not "one cookie-cutter approach."

8.  How to ensure arts equity?

Swift - She said arts are "transformational" and that some kids get private lessons early on that others don't.  She said her district had created a community partnership where students can get private lessons and there are instruments for all at no cost.  She said they also have a partnership with their symphony.

Juneau - She said she went to an SPS elementary and they did a great poetry slam with a poet leading the work. She said that it was important that arts reach all schools.  She said "the budget is about values and that's usually where the money goes."

Spencer - He said to talk to students and ask them what they want.  He said one student at West Seattle High said she wanted more arts and then, when pressed, just said more theater.  He said it might be great to bring in a professional dancer to show students interested in that.

He said that adults sometimes don't have an answer on how to make it happen but students think, "I can make it happen."

9.  Students in issues around education

Swift - She said she meets regularly with students around her district.  She said pizza (healthy) always brings out a crowd of students and that it's just as much as them talking to each other as to her about issues.

She said when she was in Colorado Springs working, they had capacity issues and had a student lunch and one student brought forth an idea that became the basis for the solution they used.

Juneau - My notes do not reflect that Ms. Juneau was asked this question.

Spencer - My notes do not reflect that Dr. Spencer was asked this question.

10.  Some students achievement is invisible especially for Native American or Pacific-Islander groups; what is your experience with alternative education to reach more students?

Swift - She said they may be invisible in charts and graphs but she directed her team to always put "each" in front of students so that no student is forgotten.

Juneau - She spoke of her mother working on alternative education and that it was about finding a caring adult for each child.  She referred again to her program, "Graduation Matters" and that they had a superintendent and student advisory board.  "Their voice gave us good information."  She said kids have "a good BS meter."  They also had kids - if they wanted to - take a "pledge to graduate" and share it with other students.

Spencer - He said they need to get resources to marginalized population and that there are "no throwaway students."  He talked about students seeing their lives in curriculum and pathways for students to find their own way and again, providing resources.

11.  Budget shortfalls and what to do

Swift - She said she would not rest until we get a new attitude about funding education on the backs of children.  She said she had her state legislators on "speed-dial" and they should hear from all of those who care about public education.  She said districts get reductions and learn to live with that new normal until there are then more reductions and the bottom falls out.

She said state constitutions require the spending but districts can't rest on "adequate" funding.  "What is a child's life worth?"  She said she hears that "money isn't the whole answer" but that her answer is "but we can't do much without it."

She said that she was sure that SPS, like many districts, combs thru looking for money but one thing her district did is look at revenue streams and they sold off a cell tower.

She said that districts have to tell the story about shortfalls and their impact.

Juneau - She spoke of doing this work as superintendent and that her state has similar legal action against the legislature (with the districts winning).  She said that elections matter to legislators and that more public education advocates had to be elected to office.

She said (again), that "Budget follows values."  She said she had read about the additional property taxes in Washington State to fund public education but that it frames public education in a negative way.  She said her role would be to work with the Board on a vision, with families for priorities and being the top cheerleader and advocate.

She said that the "Graduation Matters" program saw successes and that some communities that hadn't been passing levies started to do so.

Spencer - He talking about finding grants to fill holes.  He said shortfalls were another part of having a 5-year plan for spending.

12.  School discipline and equity

Swift - She said school discipline is a fundamental lever for equity and to look at the data, it mirrors achievement.  She said she had seen the recommendations from SPS' AA Male Advisory Committee especially around attendance.  She said teams in schools could help with coping mechanisms.

Juneau - She talked about MTSS and that the way to make it work is to bring in community and find the strengths of neighborhoods.  She said they didn't just "plop" it in but students drove that rule-making.

Spencer - My notes reflect that he was not asked this question.

13.  We are more effective when we know a purpose; what do you think Seattle's is?

Swift - It is a collective purpose to support children.  She said someone once said, "Kids are a postcard we send for a day we will not see" and so "we are working together to send postcards to the future."

She spoke of a staffer at Franklin who said he had been thru SPS and was a proud graduate and he expected both of his children to be as well. She said there is no better testimony than a parent believing their child will get the good education that he/she received.

Juneau - She said it's a quality education with all students learning and "raising all boats."  She said that the "Graduation Matters" program was an umbrella program for talking about college/career.  She spoke of "putting the public back in public education."

She noted that it's about finding community and said that this room showed that.

Spencer - He said SPS is on track to be the best urban school district in the country and that SPS is "not paying lip service to the work."


Anonymous said…
Equity, equity, equity,...yet no mention of special ed students or highly capable students? Why is equity all about race (and a little about poverty), but never about the unique needs of those who learn differently? Do we want to serve all races and incomes well, or all STUDENTS well?

all types
All Types, I think the one equity question that included highly capable, Sped, ELL, left even Scarlett a bit sheepish as she knew they couldn’t cover all that. I would assume the Board would have the final say on these questions but I’m just not sure.
Anonymous said…
FYI, *all* demographics are "minorities" in SPS (with white students being the largest single minority):

Hispanic / Latino of any race(s)- 12.2%
American Indian / Alaskan Native - 0.6%
Asian - 14.6%
Black / African American -15.4%
Native Hawaiian / Other Pacific Islander -0.4%
White - 46.6%
Two or More Races - 10.1%
Anonymous said…
Juneau stood out for her grounded and reasoned nature. She seems like someone who could set a positive tone for the district and get broad support from staff. She led with the quote: "We don't need to build a higher wall, we need a larger table." Having worked at the state level in Montana, she seemed to have a big picture perspective about general funding and other issues.

There was some discussion around "alternative" schools that framed them as places for students in danger of dropping out, not necessarily as alternatives for non struggling students. Unfortunately, there was no discussion related specifically to SPED or AL programming, from any candidates, but the candidates were responding to the questions posed, which were focused more generally on equity.

You'd hope anyone around during the MGJ days would think long and hard about supporting another candidate with Broad training. Unfortunately, it's difficult to get past that part of Spencer's bio. He ended with, "I think Seattle is on the road to being the best urban district in America, leading the charge, leading the way...making sure every student is served to the maximum capacity..." Wish I could believe that (As I watched, I wanted to say, step back, you have your back to the Board!).

Spencer mentioned visiting West Seattle and Mercer, Juneau visited Cleveland, and Swift, Franklin and Ballard. Anyone know the full list of schools visited by each?

I thought Swift was going to start into a comedy routine when she asked who's in the room, but it was a good way to begin. She was the only candidate who mentioned enrollment growth and capacity. She acknowledged each school being unique, but talked about consistency being needed as well. She was very passionate about the need to improve education funding. Swift ended well with the quote: "Our children are the postcards we send to a day we will not see...postcards to the future."

Juneau and Swift came off as the stronger candidates.

my 2cents
Outsider said…
The one question I wish they would ask but they never will: to what extent will the "opportunity gap" be closed by taking away opportunity from one group vs. adding opportunity for the other? We know that taking away opportunity has been the primary M.O. so far (end of Spectrum, eliminating honors classes, etc.) even though this has little impact on the SBA pass rates by which the gap is measured. Is there any limit to how far SPS will pursue that approach?
Anonymous said…
Anyone know why the survey to enter official feedback closed shortly after last night's event?

-North-end Mom
Because the Board wanted that info as they worked the entire day today, pondering these choices.
Anonymous said…
In one of the most important threads of the year, Melissa only gets 5 comments.

So I'll say - Thanks for taking the time to write this up. It's worth reading.

Anonymous said…
Agreed, northwesterner, but the timing. Passover. Holy Week. Not exactly a time when some families can focus on school events. Is there even an opportunity for parents to provide feedback at this point?

decision made?
Yes, there is time for input and I have repeatedly said that.

The Board cannot control the timing of holidays.

Thanks ,Northwesterners, for the kind comment.
Anonymous said…
Great comment about removing opportunities as a “strategy” toward achieving more equity, although I am not sure that labeling the students as “gifted” or not “gifted” based on a test in kindergarten and using that label as a pass to a better education opportunity (spectrum etc) for a few is the right way either. There are kids that don’t do well at tests. There are others who are late bloomers.

Having said that, I am really disappointed that the focus of “this generation” is so singularly focused on equality that the quality seems to be totaly out of the picture.
Anonymous said…
According to a 2014 article, Michigan is one of 9 states without gifted funding or state mandated services. It's not clear how Ann Arbor serves gifted students - the district web site has no links for specific programming. Nothing about identification.

an fyi
"Great comment about removing opportunities as a “strategy” toward achieving more equity, although I am not sure that labeling the students as “gifted” or not “gifted” based on a test in kindergarten and using that label as a pass to a better education opportunity (spectrum etc) for a few is the right way either. There are kids that don’t do well at tests. There are others who are late bloomers.

Having said that, I am really disappointed that the focus of “this generation” is so singularly focused on equality that the quality seems to be totaly out of the picture."

I generally delete Anonymous comments (we have a policy on that, please read it) but I did want to ask about this:

"using that label as a pass to a better education opportunity (spectrum etc) for a few is the right way either."

Tell us how it's a "better" opportunity. Same curriculum, teachers have almost no training in gifted education.
Anonymous said…
Gifted Education in Montana Rule and Law

In the School Laws of Montana, MCAA 20-7-901, high ability/high potential students are defined as children with capabilities that "require differentiated educational programs beyond those normally offered in public schools in order to fully achieve their potential contribution to self and society." Montana's School Accreditation Standards require each school district to provide educational services to high ability/high potential students commensurate with their needs as outlined in a comprehensive district framework for gifted education.

an fyi
NNE Parent said…
Thanks for taking such careful notes and posting them so we can compare the candidates' answers, Melissa. I only caught one of them on tv, because kids.

I hope we get Swift or Juneau. They both seemed to have a lot of strengths.

Spencer doesn't seem like a good fit. His business-business-business focus was eyebrow-raising and odd. Our biggest businesses are Boeing, Microsoft, UW and Amazon. What do those corporations care about our middle school students? Our high school students? Too many of whom won't even graduate. A high school diploma is nowhere near enough to get most of the jobs at those companies. You want to be hired there, you need at least a college degree and you need to be able to complete with other job seekers from all over the U.S. and the world. It has to be possible for students who attend public school in Seattle to be able to make into competitive colleges if they work hard. Boeing, Microsoft, UW and Amazon jobs shouldn't only be available to private school students and students from Bellevue or Mercer Island or other states or countries. Our public schools have a duty to make sure that local children who can and want to swim with the big fishes can do so.
Anonymous said…
Montana (Juneau) seems far ahead of Michigan (Swift) for gifted ed. At the state level, there's really no comparison. Colorado (Spencer) also has an Office of Gifted Education (which is grouped with special education in the Exceptional Student Services Unit).

"High ability/high potential students need the resources to keep moving, keep developing, and keep learning even after they have met all the requirements of a particular unit, course, or grade level." - Montana GTE Program

Wish there had been a question to each candidate about GTE approaches in their district/state vs Seattle.

an fyi
Anonymous said…
@Melissa. Hi. Wasn’t aware of the anon post policy, my apologies. I will read it. As far as spectrum program goes, my understanding - from admitedly limited information sources - was that it has different, more in-depth, curriculum and dedicated teachers. More or less one year more advanced than regular curriculum for the same age. We are having a little one who is starting in kindergarten next year and it is extremely frustrating to get any meaningful information about spectrum, the reason I started following your blog in the first place about a month ago btw. If, as you say, everything is the same, then why have it?
Anonymous, you need to read and respect the policy on commenting.

No Spectrum did not have a different curriculum - it moved the existing curriculum faster and sometimes deeper. But it's the same curriculum as all the other kids at that grade level. The pace of the class and the ability of the cohort in that class to move at that pace is why many parents choose Spectrum/HCC. As well, many parents have had experience I had when my child was in Spectrum. He came home and said, "It's okay to be smart in this class." Because he had been told to stop raising his hand because it annoyed the teacher.

This ability to move faster with a group should be one that ALL kids can access and the program needs to be changed to allow that for parents who want that for their child. There are things that could be done but, for whatever reason, are not happening in the district and it feels like Advanced Learning is being dismantled.

I look forward to discussing this with our next superintendent.
ppower said…
Thank you Melisa! I really appreciate your blog, which has so far been by far the most informative place on the net about SPS. My kid is actually going net year to Whittier so fingers crossed with that.

Perhaps our definitions of curriculum differed a bit. Mine included breath and depth. Yes, deeper knowledge for smarter kids. As you said, the decision about who gets in is a one-off, based on a test in first few months of K. Their whole destiny so to speak, hinges on a single test! And, in my experience, better teachers tend to lobby to teach better students which leads to effective segregation which is very hard to reverse. In my book, the depth of knowledge equals opportunity. I hope the next superintendant will listen to your proposal, which I fully support.
Anonymous said…
thank you mw. really appreciate

ppower, the state mandates that there are more than one criterion. sps has a multidisciplinary team who review teacher/parent recommendations, cogat (iq) and achievement test MAP or SBAC depending on grade (unless this item has been changed) for hcc assignment. for hcc: 95% read /math achievement and 98% iq (unless tested privately then it is 99% - a ridiculous modification done for equity sake.)

this gets you two years ahead in math and deeper fuller work in la/ss. unless you go to a school south of the ship canal as there are issues with equity there so they have honors and social studies for all/none.

there is no spectrum folks.

that said, i do wish one question would have been answered to show the candidates understood the importance of differentiated programs for hcc and sped. or even bonus points on how they would raise those frl/ell kids' achievement scores to get into hcc.

i can live with either swift or juneau. i can not live with spencer as i think he would be mgj -2 and she was the worst thing to happen to this district in our time.

no caps
Anonymous said…
The Montana gifted ed link contains a link for the state planning guide for Highly Capable.

They have a good deal about identifying and serving a range of learners, with sections on twice exceptional, "issues of culture and poverty," and "American Indian identification."

an fyi
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Melissa, for this blog post. It made me watch the youtube videos of the superintendent candidates' presentations and write an informed (mostly) opinion to the school board. I advocated for Juneau because I think she would be the best fit for Seattle with her soft spoken, thoughtful responses and her Northwest (Montana) and Native American background.

Wallingford Mom
Anonymous said…
I just have to comment on Spencer's comment about teachers not staying because "no one asked them to." Is there actually data on this? Seems likely just a snazzy sound bite.
Anonymous said…
I bumped on that comment of Spencer's as well. I think teachers leave because we get burned out and tired of all the crap we have to deal with. If firearms enter the picture (which I feel confident would not happen in Seattle), be prepared for a mass exodus of teachers leaving. If a principal personally asked a teacher to stay, would that make a difference? Perhaps, but I think it is much more about being the scapegoat for all of societ's ills and expected to work miracles. My two cents. -TeacherMom
Anonymous said…
@ppower, I think you are misunderstanding a few things.

1. It doesn't all hung on a single test in early K. Some get in then, but most get in based on testsing done later. You can test every year. I suspect many who test in K do so because it's been apparent to the parent(s) and/or teacher that the child is an outlier and needs more.)
2. The curriculum itself isn't broader or deeper--it's the same curriculum, they just use it a year or two ahead. Any additional breadth or depth are usually because kids "get" the material faster and the teacher can either cover things that get omitted when the class struggles to keep up, or because watchers can modify lesson plans to fill in or expand in something after kids have the basics.
3. The teachers aren't better trained or better st teaching, and there have been plenty who were pushed into teaching HCC unwillingly. There are HCC schools and HCC teachers who are philosophically opposed to providing the services they are supposed to be providing, and who make the kids feel bad.
4. A student's while destiny does not hinge on a K test. If a student who really needs the program/service doesn't get in in K, they likely will soon (via the next year's testing or. Is appeal. Student who do get in often decline to participate, and their destiny seems ok. Many--most!--other students don't get in, and they turn out well, too. In fact, by the time the kids are in high school, they can take pretty much the same classes. Perhaps most important "destiny" argument is that HC students who have access to HCC aren't destined to be bored, isolated, and miserable for years, with all the MH problems that. One with being such an outlier before you've had a chance to learn coping skills.
5. The program doesn't give them deeper knowledge. They already have a deeper knowledge of many things, and/or stronger skills. If the goal is to equalize the depth of knowledge between HCC students and others, we need a system that is designed to keep a HC kids down, limit/prevent their further learning.. their deeper knowledge often stems from their insatiable thirst for knowledge, with a lot of independent study/reading on complex topics.

Kid power
ppower said…
Thanks Kid power! A great post that certainly improved my understanding of the system we are about to enter. I don’t disagree with many of your points, it was mostly lack of quality information to base my reasoning on that led me to my original conclusions. Yes, most of the other kids do turn out ok, thankfully, and it is good that the testing for the hcc can happen every year. A question that comes to mind is about hcc capacity, does every kid that qualifies and applies have a guaranteed place or there are hcc school capacity limitations?

Since my first, post did some research on the definition and meaning of “equity” vs “equality”, life sometimes can be so consuming that one misses new terminology, as the principle of equity appears to be the guiding light for our district. My view is that it is a noble goal of course but only if the quality of education that all students get does not suffer. Hope that this is not the case.
Anonymous said…
HCC is a guaranteed assignment for every qualified student.

Fairmount Parent
This is getting off-topic. Please get back to the topic or your comment will be deleted.

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