Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Tuesday Open Thread

Did anyone attend the Superintendent's Regional meeting last night at North Seattle CC?  Just wondering if any Nova students showed up to protest the teacher cuts at their school.

Have you or your teen seen the Netflix series, American Vandal?  It's a pretty funny/crude mock-u-mentary about two teen documentary filmmakers who examine crimes at high schools.  The first season was about a guy with impulse control problems - who would be labeled the pain-in-the-ass class clown - and who spray-painted every teacher's car in the parking lot with a penis.

I know, you're thinking, "Why would I encourage my child to watch this?"  Because beyond it being funny, it does get to some very serious issues about labeling kids, how kids treat each other at schools, what it means to lie.  The show earned a Peabody award.  From Oregon Live:
Creators Tony Yacenda and Dan Perrault, along with  showrunner Dan Lagana, not only expertly spoofed true-crime models like "Serial" and "Making a Murderer," they nailed high school satire, introduced compelling characters and made viewers desperate to know who did the - er, committed the vandalism.
The second season is set at St Bernadine's High School...in Bellevue and it's about ....poop.  Sadly, not filmed in Washington state but in Oregon.  But the star basketball player in it says he came from Rainier Beach and has never forgotten where he came from.  (Rainier Beach is mentioned in two episodes and it shows the neighborhood, not the school.)

A big issue that can get overlooked - pronouncing students' names correctly.  Here's a good article from KQED about how teachers can do better (and any of us who volunteer in classrooms).

 The names of white and nonwhite children alike are mispronounced, Kohli and Sol√≥rzano write, but the experience is much more damaging for a child who “goes to school and reads textbooks that do not reference her culture, sees no teachers or administrators that look like her, and perhaps does not hear her home language,” since these cues (plus advertisements, movies and other indicators of societal values at large) already communicate “that who they are and where they come from is not important.” For one Latina study participant, having her name mispronounced made her wish her parents were more Americanized; a Sri Lankan American reported feeling that his name was “an imposition on others.”

OSPI Needs Your Input


Mike said...

I was at the meeting last night. There were many Nova students, teachers, parents and alums there. They probably made up 2/3 of the audience. They passionately presented their stories and asked many questions about how the decision was made and about equity. While Superintendent Juneau was expecting the Nova community and said she was there to listen, it was clear that her mind was made up and that nothing said there would change her mind. She was also unable to clarify what "race and equity lens" the decision was made through, and essentially admitted that it wasn't clearly defined.

One parent made an excellent point that any equity lens needs to take impact into account, and that clearly this decision hadn't taken the disparate impact to Nova into account.

Mike said...

Overall, there were maybe 60-70 Nova students there, close to a dozen teachers, and many parents and alums.

muh said...

Yes, I attended.

As Mike said, Nova was out in force (with some support from the World School). They spoke really passionately, and repeatedly. I think it speaks well of the school that it is producing students who can self-advocate, and do so coherently.

As a more general review - I appreciate that Juneau is doing this tour. I don't remember having a superintendent who pretended to listen, never mind actually stood and gave students time. She showed up with a sign language interpreter, and the comment cards were in multiple languages. I believe that the listening tour, and the forthcoming student advisory board, all speak well that Juneau will be a good leader during her tenure.

As to the Nova situation, she at least came prepared with some of the data that the district used to make the decision. For example, she had a chart that shows that in recent years Nova has had decreasing population over the year. Since one major argument from Nova is that their population increases (it does see a bump in late fall, but then declines again), I think it is interesting to see the reality of the data. I am also not sure that she really could have responded differently in the moment, since, if a solution is forthcoming, it will need to be worked out with support staff and not created during the meeting.

While I understand the ire of the Nova students, there are some realities in play that make an easy immediate solution hard to come by. I'm not sure there was enough voice given to the fault of the Washington State legislature, and the numbers behind all the schools that are losing staff.

(While there was a question about what equity lens was used, we know something about how this is done. Firstly, the base staffing rates are weighted with an equity lens. Secondly, mitigation funds were given first to more at risk students.)

muh said...

More about the meeting - I think it was important that Nova had a chance to be heard. And additionally some other parents who came to speak about the impact of losing staff.

What is a little unfortunate, is that this was the chance in the north end to weigh in on many issues, and there wasn't much time for that. Perhaps she will come back another time?

Other issues that got raised -
* Superintendent Juneau spoke about transportation and how we should be able to do better
*Licton Springs and how hard it is for the school to exist in an over-full middle school building.
*With a side order of equity, lack of confidence in the school principal, and frustration with feeling marginalized on their site.
*Capacity planning in general, and how much the school district sucks. (Honestly, they can't actually suck this much. Someone, no me, although I've thought if frequently, said 'If a mom in her living room can figure this stuff out, why can't you?')
*From Eagle Staff - a need to be able to actually define what the capacity of a building is, and the operational capacity. The Eagle Staff building does not have a functional capacity of 750, even though they lost only 250 of the thousand seats to LS, because the auxiliary spaces were also affected. The district has never run an analysis on what the real numbers should be, and reports on things like actual attendance are inconsistent.
*Someone (again, not me, despite my predisposition) argued that we have a city full of some of the best data scientists in the world, and the district appears to be particularly horrible at any kind of data science.

*Special education, and how impossible it is to send your kid to a school when they get no services for the first 90 days or so. This was heart breaking. These kids are really traumatized by being thrust into situations that they have no way of coping with.
*Special services for the hearing impaired, and treating ASL as a language.

My honest, over all take away, is that students and parents have no faith in district administration. Many of us know amazing teachers, but universally we feel that the district will use data against us whenever possible, but never use it to help. The general sense is that if the district can screw someone over, they will, and I don't know any group that really feels secure that this won't happen.

Maybe Juneau can help turn that around. She seems to get many of the issues, and she seems sincere.

muh said...

One more - there was a side-light from North Seattle CC which felt kind of inappropriate to me. It may have made sense if the meeting hadn't turned into a displacement rally, but, given the circumstances it felt out of place, tin-eared, and I doubt anyone paid much attention.

I didn't pay a ton of attention, but it was about the community college system in Seattle (2nd largest system in the state, behind SPS, and ahead of UW). They also wanted to promote a 13th year program that North Seattle is starting this year. I have no doubt this is an amazing resource for many students.
Rick Burke also spoke to this.

Anonymous said...

I saw that BEX V favorites were announced.

I have a big concern that in West Seattle, no one is looking at "big picture" capacity issues. An addition to West Seattle Elementary is high on the list. This makes no sense. First, this school is not much over capacity, and in the last few years enrollment has been trending downward. (The current P223 is not on the SPS website so I can't confirm this year's enrollment numbers. Go figure.) Second, there are neighboring schools with much lower enrollment numbers than in the recent past that have room for more students. Poor Sanislo only has about 200 kids. It has capacity for 264. Roxhill just reopened at E.C. Hughes, a lovely new facility with some room to grow. Roxhill's enrollment numbers are also in decline. Why would you put an addition on West Seattle Elementary when there are neighboring schools with tanking enrollments? You should be adjusting boundaries instead.

I believe in using an equity lens. But it is stupid to use equity as an excuse to overbuild in an area that doesn't need capacity. The Denny region needs more staff and Title I school supports, not an elementary school addition.

By the way, Lafayette Elementary didn't make the "favorites" cut. It is an absolute dump.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Thank you, Megan, for those reports. I do note something you said:

Secondly, mitigation funds were given first to more at risk students.)

And so this is why we need an equity definition. Who is "more at-risk?" Because LGBTQ students in high school are very at-risk.

Thanks as well, WS Parent. Good info.

Peggy P. said...

I was there too, one other point is that Juneau actually suggested that deciding on numbers in MAY rather than as school starts and STICKING to them was a good idea. This would force more accurate numbers, ideally, and help prevent uncertainty and heartbreak down the line. Wiggle room may be needed, but plan for it! Stick to it! Lots of clapping at that and a second by another angry mother who had been told by the administration at her school that she needed to stop making a fuss, essentially (and she felt it was coming from district staff, not just the school, I believe). We just found out today at Bagley that we are losing our librarian and one K class, with shuffling of kindergarteners and 1st graders happening. More Kudos to the Nova kids for being well spoken, engaged with information and clear in what losing teachers is costing them--too much.

kellie said...

Historically, Nova would get new students all year long.

However, part of the more restrictive changes that enrollment has made over the last few years has severely limited mid year transfers. That was the primary reason why Nova was changed to a "service school" so that they could receive transfers.

Bottom line: enrollment created the problem at Nova and now budget will remove teachers. This was the same thing that happened at Center school.

monkeypuzzled said...

My autistic daughter B has a math disability. Math has always been a class she dreaded and she's never gotten along with her math teacher.

Her algebra teacher this year is W, new at Nova, young and with an infectious enthusiasm about math. One of her assignments this year was for each kid to create a social media math stumper. B was actually proud of the work she did!

She liked W so much that she and her friends used to hang out in the math room before school started.

Bess texted us this morning to say that W's door is locked :-(

Anonymous said...

It looks to me like the Facilities and Management Task Force was basing its recommendations on some bad data. For example, they were apparently using the capacity numbers for the old Roxhill building (which had a capacity of only 297). Roxhill moved to E.C. Hughes this year. I have been all over the SPS website to find out the E.C. Hughes' capacity number. I can't find it. My best guess is 550 based on the old BEX IV information, but I am not sure. I just called Roxhill at E.C. Hughes, and they couldn't give me a capacity number, but they said they had lots of room for more students. Does anyone know the actual capacity number at E.C. Hughes? Putting an addition on West Seattle Elementary when there is a bright shiny new school with room next door makes no sense.

Meanwhile, Boren STEM literally has tiles falling from the library ceiling, and Lafayette is in horrible shape. Neither one of these schools makes the BEX V project list.


muh said...

Melissa - right.

I guess my thought at the time was that I know there are answers to some of these questions, so why aren't they being shared? For example, could we know how many positions were saved by the mitigation funds, and where they were? I feel like it was a lost opportunity.

WSParent - do you know how the BEX projects are decided? I feel like Eden Mack is usually really on top of capacity and infrastructure issues, so she might be a good director to reach out to.

Anonymous said...

Megan Hazen--Thank you. I do not know how this works, so I can reach out to Director Mack.

I have also looked at various 5 year projections for the Denny Service area, and they are incredibly off. SPS projected a lot of growth in this area, when in fact most schools in the area have seen significant decreases in enrollment. The notion that this year we should be "shocked, shocked" that people are being priced out of Seattle is ludicrous. FRL percentages in SPS have gone from about 43% seven years ago to about 31% now. There has been a decline in enrollment in Title I elementary schools in SW Seattle for years, yet the latest projections on the SPS website still project increased enrollment in those schools. Maybe this year SPS will finally get the memo.

I am also concerned that there is no "local knowledge" being accounted for in the SPS analysis. The school in the Denny service area that has a lot of increased enrollment is Arbor Heights, which fortunately still has a lot of capacity. But, the big increase in enrollment at Arbor Heights was not on the SPS radar. To anyone who knows the area, it should not be surprising. That school has a very solid reputation, so young families moving in that area often try to move into that school boundary.

I would also love for SPS to post the September 2018 P223 count and current projections on the website. No such luck.


Baffled. said...

Heard an interesting term yesterday. "Suitcase" word.

A suitcase word is a word capable of many meanings. When someone uses a "suitcase" word it is very difficult to understand what that person is saying because that person might be using the word one way, while the hearer interprets the word in another way.

Frankly, there are so many "suitcase" words used in education (well, just about anywhere) that debate becomes (or should become) impossible, without a better communal understanding what the particular words or phrases mean.

I nominate "equity lens" as the suitcase word of the day. What does it mean? Does it mean that a person should consider an impact or impacts on a racial minority before or during a decision making process? Or does it expand beyond racial minorities?

Should it "inform" decision making? What does that mean? Impact or change an ultimate decision?

I like the idea of "suitcase" words.

What about "Charter" Schools. What does Charter mean? "Reform" that's probably a good suitcase word.

Anonymous said...

I spoke to one of my kids last night about how she was impacted by Roosevelt losing 2 teaching spots (I think that was what it was). She said a lot of kids had their schedules reworked. She heard that they lost a part time Spanish teacher and that some kids in first year Spanish had to switch to first year French. She also said that her Yoga class is now being combined with the weight lifting class so kids in weightlifting will now have to do part Yoga and vice versa. There was more she told me that I don't remember. Not sure how much of this all she got right, but she was pretty mature about saying she could handle lifting more weights compared to the changes some kids are going through. It still boggles my mind how my HS kids have massive class sizes and are still under enrolled enough to lose staffing.

NE Seattle mom of 3

Anonymous said...

How about SPS stops pinching pennies so hard and instead of a hard 30-32+ students per class (to get max value for their money by giving 1.0 teachers 150-160 students total), SPS adjusts that to a 25-30 range. That way students don't have to be moved out of smaller classes as much. Yeah education costs money. Education is also critically important.

Former East Coaster

Anonymous said...

@Former East Coaster- Yes!!!! I have been saying that since my child was in K and is now in HS but I don't think it will happen. I believe class sizes of under 30 are not considered "normal" in Seattle. I notice many people just kind of accept the large class sizes and overcrowded schools as "normal" in a public school environment. It is provincial. But maybe we have a different normal than others in this city because alas....I am also another also a former East Coaster. Heck they still assign 17-21 to a class where I grew up. I believe there would be rioting in the streets if class sizes were as high as they are out here.


Melissa Westbrook said...

I am attending the Work Session on BEX V today and I expect a spirited conversation (and maybe some pushback) from directors.

How do they decide? Staff does it behind closed doors and then gives the list to the Board. The Board may ask questions but if staff has not given them all relevant data (or skewed data), the Board may think they are helping the neediest schools but are not. Using "equity" as part of the equation makes it even more difficult.

Anonymous said...

Anyone read "Bullsh*t Jobs"? Obviously, class sizes over 30 rather than 20 pays for many, many highly paid middle management positions. What would these managers do without their 6 figure incomes? Perhaps they would need welfare. Unthinkable. Your children are paying their incomes, and don't even think about putting their incomes at risk. Middle management will fight tooth and nail for their bull-* jobs

Wild West

Anonymous said...

Great article on pronunciation of student names. Why is there not a simple nickname and pronunciation area in the attendance screen? Parents could then get proper pronunciation guide and if students change pronouns or preferred names we would have them right there. We literally have a complete cold opening of school. There is no reason for this information not to be provided systematically across the district.

Mr. Theo Moriarty

Unbelieveable said...

Have you not seen the levy cliff, former east coaster??

monkeypuzzled said...

Confirmed that Nova is losing the two teachers with the least seniority. The students are starting a GoFundMe to pay for their salary. Is that even allowed? It shouldn't be. But I'll contribute to save the only math teacher my kid has ever bonded with.

Anonymous said...

What's going on at Garfield? Teacher walkout?

Bulldog tired

Anonymous said...

Maybe the WMS teachers could join them ...


Anonymous said...

Garfield students say they feel like hostages because they've all been rounded up into the gym while the teachers are doing a walkout. It's not right to force the students to waste their time in a noisy, crowded space while the teachers use work time to protest.


Anonymous said...

What?! Sounds like a good day for Juneau to take her listening tour to Garfield's gym...

more craziness

Anonymous said...

Also, the school isn't answering any phones, and the ED's office seems to be unwilling to answer any questions beyond: it's the teachers' fault for doing the counts wrong.


Bulldog tired

Curious Leschi said...

What are they protesting? Doing what counts? What are the issues?

Garfield Sit-in said...


Anonymous said...

Unacceptable. Students should not be held hostage and used as political pawns. What kept students from walking out?


Anonymous said...


Someone was taking attendance and threatening the students with detention if they left.


Anonymous said...

The teachers wouldn't let the kids leave.

and told kids it was the HCC students parent's fault because the admin is scared to risk the outcry if AP classes are cancelled so they're cancelling health and PE assuring the burden of the cuts falls on less advantaged students

(this all by text from my kid who wanted me to tell the school she's OK w shouldering the burden of the cuts and doesn't want to contribute to inequity)

I would like to know why Garfield is shunting less advantaged kids into health and PE and not really advocating for all kids to take the truly excellent AP courses offered. Seems like that's the bigger problem, eh?

and *still* no communication from the school

--no answers

Anonymous said...

@ no answers

I have an HC student in health class.
All students have to take it, it is a graduation requirement.
I can't comment on anything else since I have not spoken with my child.
Garfield seems to always be a target of the very talented Pritchett.


Anonymous said...

I have a problem w the way Juneau is doing her "listening tours." The SE tour earlier this week was so ritualized, elevating her to a Saint giving beneficence to her people. The themes and topics were laid out before the meeting started and then everybody assumed their/our roles.

Seriously, people who go to the next few should really take the thing over and insist on substance. Let's not be sheep.


Anonymous said...

...and told kids it was the HCC students parent's fault...they're cancelling health and PE assuring the burden of the cuts falls on less advantaged students

Newsflash - AP courses are not limited to HC qualified students and HC qualified students come from a variety of backgrounds, not all of them "advantaged."

Was the principal not complicit in this? It took until lunch to release students? Please rein it in, Juneau.


Anonymous said...

Comment from MyNorthWest:

...My student indicated that the teachers took turns where they emotionally vented that the staffing decision was based on sexism and racism. Black Lives Matter representatives were brought in as well. The kids were whipped up and my student felt unsafe. Toxic identity politics has invaded our school. This has got to stop...


Anonymous said...

I have spoken with my child.
Her perspective is totally different from other posters.
According to her account, the teachers DID NOT blame HCC families but did comment that the burden of the cuts will be on the students with less means since it is this group that is less likely to have access to after school sports (to fulfill the PE requirement) or take the health course online (as I mentioned earlier it is also a graduation requirement). It is her understanding that the impact might be felt by many as schedules adjust.
She felt in no way hostage, she did not hear anyone threatening students with detention and actually saw some students leave (they would be marked absent). The teachers made sure their students were there by taking attendance. When she texted me about the sit in, I told her she could come home, but her reply was that she wanted to participate in the sit-in to support her teachers who were doing this for all of them (students).

Anonymous said...

I have spoken with my child.
Her perspective is totally different from other posters.
According to her account, the teachers DID NOT blame HCC families but did comment that the burden of the cuts will be on the students with less means since it is this group that is less likely to have access to after school sports (to fulfill the PE requirement) or take the health course online (as I mentioned earlier it is also a graduation requirement). It is her understanding that the impact might be felt by many as schedules adjust.
She felt in no way hostage, she did not hear anyone threatening students with detention and actually saw some students leave (they would be marked absent). The teachers made sure their students were there by taking attendance. When she texted me about the sit in, I told her she could come home, but her reply was that she wanted to participate in the sit-in to support her teachers who were doing this for all of them (students).


Anonymous said...

Sounds like it was just 1 teacher bringing up HCC. My kid very much supports the teachers.

I wish it had been handled better--most families would probably support the teachers if there were any communication.

Also, my kid had a full quarter of health with no teacher a few years ago.

--no answers

Same Old said...

Two out of 33 teachers are being cut from Garfield. One is a female gym teacher and the other is a health teacher.

Garfield is the only school to stage an illegal strike.

Implications were made that would divide HCC and general education students.

It is time for HCC to leave Garfield.

Anonymous said...

According to a teacher there ( Mr. H) it, the teacher strike or walk out or teach in or whatever you want to label it, was an eruption of class struggle. His exact words. 2 teachers were cut at Roosevelt. Rainier Beach is *gaining* staff. (Should those also trigger eruptions and disruption gym-sequestering of students?)

All of these staffing adjustments are driven by ONE algorithm that applies equally and uniformly to ALL schools. This is not a class eruption, this is a function of numbers and how they deviated from the predicted numbers. Cuts or additions are determined by each building administration based on their master schedule subscription. Things that are hugely demanded are overfilled and thus not vulnerable. Things that are not do become candidates for change management. It is not decided based on which students are taking a course, it’s decided on the total amount of students taking that course.

We’re GHS teachers protesting RBHS getting more staff, because per the WSS they were short changed? We’re they protesting RHS also loosing 2 staff as equally unjust to those students?

This is what frustrates: selfishness. Equity has to be for every child every where at the same time, which is what the WSS uniformly administered across all schools does, or else cries of equity are simple callow self-serving statements that mask the fact you really don’t care about students in other buildings enduring hardships that are equally disruptive. Or is Garfield more equal?

GHS should know that these tactics may thrill some families, but they also turn off others and that will continue to erode your enrollment further meaning more staff cuts ahead. Less enrollment means less staff necessarily means fewer course selection with fewer sections.

Go ahead and argue your case, but do so asking for equity by ensuring you want and demand consistent staffing for all of your stablemates in SPS empire. And, significant numbers Highly Capable students have averted enrolling in GHS over the last two years alone, so whatever messages you are sending out overtly or covertly, that signal has been clearly received, so you are on your way to realize whatever agenda some have vocally pushed for.

Waste Not

Blame the Legislators said...

Yeah, the class struggle argument rings pretty hollow since Garfield (F/RL 30%) is giving up 2 teachers and two schools with MUCH higher levels of poverty, Sealth (F/RL 62%) and Rainier Beach (F/RL 74%), are each gaining one.

Why not agitate in Olympia for better funding for all public schools, Garfield?

Anonymous said...

Here is a link to the South Seattle Emerald piece covering the protest at GHS today:



Anonymous said...

Regarding enrollment numbers, didn't both Garfield and Roosevelt had wait lists?
I just can't find the links, but if my memory doesn't fail me, then why didn't they let kids move into those schools?
The sad truth is that next year will be brutal for GHS with Lincoln opening. Hopefully central administration will do a better job at predicting enrollment.


Class Schedules said...

Does Garfield offer an AP Protest class???

Anonymous said...

The Garfield community that I am a part of overwhelmingly supports its superlative teachers for calling attention to the District's corrosive budgeting strategy that treats teachers as widgets in a just-in-time inventory system, with little apparent regard to students (and teachers). It is not bitterness over losing teachers to other schools that could use them; it's about losing teachers AT ALL at this point in the school year, to schools which should have these teachers already in place. Direct your bilious anger toward District and the state lege which choose NOT to prioritize education and fund all schools amply and dependably from the beginning of each school year.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, FNH


Vote No said...

Education Critically important

Is it? We have overcrowded classrooms. Huge achievement gaps. Underfunded mandates. Transportation woes. On and on...

Yet our economy is booming. We attract people from all parts of the US (hello east coasters) and even the world. World class companies are headquartered here, and many others have significant branch office locations.

Would more "investment" in education "improve" things further? I doubt it.

What would? Investments in public health, infrastructure and safety. What if we focus our energies toward helping those adddicted and mentally ill in our parks and on our streets?

More lab equipment in our science classrooms? Is that more essential than green energy or improvements to public transit?

I think we can acknowledge the elephant in the room. Education is not the vitally important "investment" that many claim it is or should be. It is one of many public responsibilities and it's funding and care must be balanced with many others.

Class schedules said...

At some point in their lives, these same students may experience job loss and layoffs. There are many lessons to be learned.

Relocating 2 teachers is a definite inconvenience, but not a crisis.

The Garfield protest machine gets old.

Anonymous said...

How is this not unprofessional conduct? Students missed instructional time and were supposedly threatened with detention if they left the gym. It does not matter whether or not some parents and students agreed with the message. This was not a school spirit rally, but forced political activity on student time.

(well, it's GHS, so not that unbelievable)

G.H. said...

In the Stranger article

Rosa Powers, a language arts teacher at GHS, told the Stranger reporter, "The main reason we acted today is that the teachers who were cut today serve mostly students of color and lower income students. Those kids lost those programs."

What is she talking about? What programs did "those kids" lose?

Cam said...

The whole "class struggle" issue raised by Garfield teacher Mr. H above is weird. In this article from March about the 25 most expensive houses for sale in Seattle, 14 of them are in the Garfield High School assignment zone.


Anonymous said...

Would the principal or the district decide which teachers to cut at a high school? I doubt Ted Howard an African American principal made a racist decision. Perhaps Mr. H and also Ms. Powers are attributing it to sexism & racism because they are super sensitive to viewing things thru the lens of equity and issues of equity. It's true racism & sexism (& classism etc etc) is prevalent. Is it the reason for every decision? It has become the explanation for everything.


Anonymous said...

Its the culture of Garfield to protest. The relocation of teachers (& no jobs are being lost) is happening across the district & Garfield cannot argue an equity argument logically within the bubble of only Garfield. I completely agree with this post: " Yeah, the class struggle argument rings pretty hollow since Garfield (F/RL 30%) is giving up 2 teachers and two schools with MUCH higher levels of poverty, Sealth (F/RL 62%) and Rainier Beach (F/RL 74%), are each gaining one.

Why not agitate in Olympia for better funding for all public schools, Garfield?

Question said...

Did teachers force students to attend a political rally?

It sounds like teachers brought in BLM. If so, does this mean teachers can bring in any group they want into a political rally? I'm thinking about precedents, here. The board needs a policy around this issue.

Another NW said...

I work at a N. end elementary school who lost a teacher last week as well, very low FRL school. 1st and 2nd graders moved classes, created a split, etc. It's a problem district-wide that shouldn't happen to anyone. It shouldn't just be a numbers game when it comes to education. Build in more of an enrollment buffer as you know the numbers will vary.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It is time for HCC to leave Garfield."

Look, I get that some of you don't like kids separated for any reason. That's fine.

But there are HCC identified kids (who may or may not actually be in the program) at nearly every single school. They have to be served, no matter any parent's feelings. How the district chooses to do it is another issue but "leave School X" is not going to happen.

Frankly, I wish we had one more Cascadia in the south, 1 HCC middle school and 1 HCC high school. Maybe out of sight, out of mind would make parents quit blame on group for all the woes of this district. And, if they were separated, you'd see that the equity issue still exists everywhere.

Anonymous said...

@Same old, How do the points you tried to make support your conclusion that HCC should leave Garfield?

“Two out of 33 teachers are being cut from Garfield. One is a female gym teacher and the other is a health teacher.”

What does this have to do with HCC? Presumably the principal made the cuts based on seniority and/or where the impacts could best be mitigated. The idea that Ted Howard was too afraid of HCC parents to cut other teachers just because of HCC is silly. He has shown no love for HCC.

“Garfield is the only school to stage an illegal strike.”

What does this walkout over late and disruptive teacher cuts across the district have to do with HCC?

“Implications were made that would divide HCC and general education students.”

I’m not exactly sure what you mean, but this sounds like an issue of a small number of teachers imposing their ideas and biases on students in an unprofessional manner, if things were said to stoke divisions. That’s an HR issue, not an HCC issue.

HCC already doesn’t exist in high schools. There are simply pathways. Lucky you—many former/current HCC students will in fact be leaving—or not entering—GHS next year when Lincoln opens. But local HC students will still be there and they will need appropriate service, whether they came from HCC or not.

Begin again

Bee Dad said...

In 2016-17, the number of HC-identified students who lived in each of these boundaries was:
Franklin 107
Garfield 182
Rainier Beach 38

It's probably more now. And obviously there are plenty of hicap students who live in those zones who never went through the district's convenient 17-step formal process for identification.

Garfield can't get rid of HCC students. It is those students' assigned high school. The high school and its teachers are required by law to serve those students. It is gross and creepy that some teachers keep publicly dissing their own f*ing students.

Anonymous said...

I had my child tested this past weekend for Advanced Learning at the Thurgood Marshall school location in South Seattle. I was quite shocked that out of all the kids that were taking the test there appeared to have been only one multiracial African American child. Being in South Seattle for the test, I was shocked at the lack of diversity of students at this testing site. It got me thinking, why doesn't the district just test ALL kids in say second grade every year. This, I feel would provide access for all and do away with private testing and make things more equitable. In thinking about it, there are barriers such as knowing about the test and what it is, how to register for the test (more complicated then it should be), access to getting to the test site and for many families that work on weekends, the test time is also an access issue. Why not just test everyone in school during a certain grade?


Anonymous said...

Interesting research from Harvard and U.S. Census on the intersection between neighborhoods where children grew up and adult outcomes. NY Times article includes discussion on Seattle. Note their finding that school boundary lines and poverty only explain half of the variation. It's critical for SPS to delve deeper, perhaps by working in partnership with Harvard/U.S. Census and Seattle Housing Authority, into understanding reasons behind these differences as a basis for forming policy.

"The part of this city east of Northgate Mall looks like many of the neighborhoods that surround it, with its modest midcentury homes beneath dogwood and Douglas fir trees.

Whatever distinguishes this place is invisible from the street. But it appears that poor children who grow up here — to a greater degree than children living even a mile away — have good odds of escaping poverty over the course of their lives.

Believing this, officials in the Seattle Housing Authority are offering some families with housing vouchers extra rent money and help to find a home here: between 100th and 115th Streets, east of Meridian, west of 35th Avenue. Officials drew these lines, and boundaries around several other Seattle neighborhoods, using highly detailed research on the economic fortunes of children in nearly every neighborhood in America."

That metric is both more specific and more mysterious. Researchers still don’t understand exactly what leads some neighborhoods to nurture children, although they point to characteristics like more employed adults and two-parent families that are common among such places. Other features like school boundary lines and poverty levels often cited as indicators of good neighborhoods explain only half of the variation here."

"Many think of neighborhoods as either "good" or "bad" for everyone. But, we find
that outcomes can differ sharply across people who grow up in the same neighborhoods.
Returning to the example above, Hispanic men who grew up in Watts have an incarceration
rate of 4% – an order of magnitude smaller than for black men raised in the same tract.

Outcomes also differ by gender: in Watts, low-income black women grow up to earn three times as much as low-income black men. These differences show that we should not think of neighborhood quality – or the policies that might improve it – as “one size fits all.” It may be more impactful to design policies that target specific subgroups in ways that directly address the particular challenges they face."




Anonymous said...


Yes, there is a lack of diversity of students testing for HCC. However, according to SPS AL, they already DO "provide universal screening for 2nd grade students in Title I and High ELL schools," and the Title I universal screening DOES result in a higher number of students taking the full CogAT. It's not happening in all schools, and there are other barriers, too, but at least it's a start. Then again, the universal screening may just be identifying more students from groups that are already disproportionately represented in the testing, qualification, and election to participate. In other words, what you observed may have been due to more white and/or Asian students who might otherwise not have been referred for screening. It all depends on how different groups are doing on those screening tests.

As to your suggestion to also "do away with private testing and make things more equitable," that actually doesn't make things more equitable. Private testing is actually more accurate, and is often a better format for students with special needs--to eliminate access to more accurate private testing for students who, for whatever reason, don't do well on the group-administered tests is inequitable. Instead, doing better outreach so that FRL families know they can qualify for free private testing if their student seems to need HC services but did not qualify via the district's testing would be the way to make things more equitable.

all types

Anonymous said...

@ Data "hat metric is both more specific and more mysterious. Researchers still don’t understand exactly what leads some neighborhoods to nurture children, although they point to characteristics like more employed adults and two-parent families that are common among such places. Other features like school boundary lines and poverty levels often cited as indicators of good neighborhoods explain only half of the variation here."

Well if it did not its obvious the research should correlate other demographic information besides poverty/FRL rate. Different ethnicities, and what percentage are immigrant children etc. Outcomes may vary considerably, yes two parent households, family values toward education etc.

Anonymous said...

We really need to get away from this idea that private testing is a perk. Private testing is often the only way kids with disabilities can be identified. It's also the only way to overcome obvious testing errors, which are super common in Seattle Public Schools. The district assumes they are infallible, and they are not, and there is no check. If Seattle used multiple pathways to qualify, that would be one thing, but we use this labyrinth 15-step process with rigid deadlines. Private testing is the only check against the district's not-infrequent total administrative and testing incompetence.

Equity means every kid gets what they need. Private testing is what kids with disabilities need in our current set-up.

Even better would be universal testing during school hours of all, and I mean all, second graders and fifth graders. Because there are low-income students and students of color at non-Title I schools who need identifying too!


Anonymous said...

Have to disagree on the private testing comments from above. Far too many people I know use this route, not because of a disability or because of a way to be a check on the SPS test, but because their kid didn't qualify on the SPS and the parent's feel their child is super talented and gifted, so they pay privately to get their kid tested to meet the standard (and this seems to be a good business for those that administer the test- they even come to your home!). And please, raising awareness to families that they can get reimbursed for testing. Many families aren't even aware of the test in the first place or even have the ability to get to the test site, so how are they going to even know about private testing. Private testing is not used for what probably was it's original intention, but has instead become a way for families in the know who are determined that their child is "gifted" and have the financial resources to test their child so that they can go to HCC. And if SPS already tests all Title 1 second graders, it doesn't get everyone, so why not just do a universal test at second and at 5th (like someone else commented).


Anonymous said...

@ Southender, your opinions and anecdotes aside, private testing isn't a perk. Nor is it a way for people to buy their way into HCC.

You seem to suggest that raising awareness of families that their FRL student can get free private testing is absurd because families "aren't even aware of the test in the first place," but maybe you're confused about when that would happen. The private testing would happen AFTER the student had already taken the CogAT and didn't qualify that way, despite the parents' expectation that they should. So those parents are going to be aware of the test. Those parents also had to agree to that initial test in the first place, too.

You said: Far too many people I know use this route, not because of a disability or because of a way to be a check on the SPS test, but because their kid didn't qualify on the SPS and the parent's feel their child is super talented and gifted, so they pay privately to get their kid tested.

Uh, yeah. Of course. If the group test is unreliable (which it is), and parents feel strongly the results don't reflect what they know about their child (which is more than what others know about their child), then private testing is the rational next step. In that sense, it IS being done to be a check on the SPS test--not a check in the "I think they mis-scored the test" kind of way, but rather a check in the "I don't think this test format accurately assessed my child" kind of way.

Since you're so into personal opinions on this matter, here's mine: a lot of parents who think their kids are "smart" have them tested via SPS, just to see. Some qualify, some don't. Most parents of kids who are clearly advanced/highlycapable/gifted/etc. also test, because they know their kids need something else now, or likely will need something different soon. If those kids don't make it through the district's screening, those parents are more likely to pursue private testing--because they know their child, and suspect that the highly imperfect test did not accurately measure their child's abilities for some reason. They want to make sure the results are accurate, and that the child is appropriately placed.

Oh, and as for disability, you do understand that it often takes private testing to identify the disability in the first place, right? A lot of people aren't doing private testing as an accommodation for a pre-identified disability, but rather they are doing private testing to see why their child, who seems like they should have qualified for HC, didn't. It's often because they have a disability that had not been identified yet.

I agree that testing everyone (not just Title 1 schools) at 2nd grade, and again at 5th grade, would provide greater access. It wouldn't necessarily change the demographics of who is in the program, but it would definitely increase the number who qualify. Expanding the use of a flawed test, however, doesn't seem like a great idea, and we'd still need a way not to discriminate against those who may have disabilities. As the district can only barely manage the testing process as it is, I have a hard time seeing them succeed with a larger endeavor unless the AL office is totally revamped.

all types

Anonymous said...

Another thing to bear in mind is that one-on-one testing is the gold standard. If you gave a professional, unbiased psychologist results from a Cogat and from a standard one-on-one IQ test, and if those results diverged, the psychologist would always, always go by the IQ test result. The Cogat is never more accurate than an IQ test. Parents who pursue private testing already know something is up with their kids and they need more data to understand.

IQ tests also cannot be prepped for. The way it's normed and administered makes that nearly impossible without considerable advance effort, and with that level of effort, a child would easily clear the Cogat threshold first.

In Seattle's flawed identification model, a child has jump through 15 hoops in order to be identified. If you kid has just ONE bad test day among many of those hoops, your child is disqualified for a FULL YEAR of testing. The only check (in the sense of checks-and-balances) on the district is to do a private test and see if that bum test is an aberration or part of a pattern.

Also, this idea that there is rampant fraud among testing psychologists is laughable. There is zero evidence of this, there are zero alleged or litigated cases of fraud. Like voter fraud, IQ testing fraud does not exist. (And even if one or two cases did arise, as with voter fraud, it would not justify indicting the whole paradigm.)

It would be better if we tested ALL 2nd and 5th graders, during the school day, every year. It would be better if we allowed people to otherwise qualify at any time of year. (Right now, if you don't qualify in year 1, you would wait 2 full years before your child could be first enrolled in HCC.) It would be better if we had multiple pathways to qualify. Other districts and state law require multiple pathways, but have only one pathway of 15- to 20-steps depending on your situation. North Shore has a best-in-practice model with five or more ways to qualify. (North Shore also doesn't allow private testing, but only because the checks-and-balances are provided by the multiple pathways!)

Until the district does literally even one thing to improve identification, one-on-one testing has to remain as an option. It is accurate, valid, reasonable, and essential when faced with a district that gatekeeps HCC to keep it smaller, proportionately, than does any other Puget Sound school district.