Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Tuesday Open Thread

Image may contain: text and outdoorI want to open with news from the 43rd Dems - the so-called PAC, Moms for Seattle sent out a mailer that shows a playground with a tent erected on it.  Except the graffiti and the tent have been photoshopped in.

Image may contain: outdoor

Folks, I get that this city has homeless issues.  Whether you believe that electeds in the city are doing enough is for you to decide.  But lying about it is wrong, wrong, wrong.  Shame on Moms for Seattle.

For the next two nights, America will again be hearing from the (many) Democratic candidates for president.  There is one new reporter among the media - eleven-year old Jaden Jefferson.  He's really good and I hope he can continue his work. 
Jaden, who identifies as a freelance reporter in Toledo, runs the account "Jaden Reports." He has quickly gained thousands of followers overnight after getting an exclusive interview with Senator and presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren.
Another hope I have seeing a question about public education especially around charter schools, an issue that the Dem candidates seem to want to avoid.

To that end, noted public education expert, Diane Ravitch, called out candidate Pete

But on education, he is a stealth corporate reformer.
Mayor Pete may have many things going for him, but his education agenda is not one of them. If he were President, he would continue the failed Bush-Obama agenda.

If he runs against Trump, I will of course support him and vote for him. I will vote for anyone who wins the Democratic nomination.
I agree with Diane.  But it's not just Buttigieg. Corey Booker is a long-time charter school supporter while Beto O'Rouke's wife started a charter school in El Paso, Texas. 

Interesting idea - PD about teaching that comes from students.  Via Education Week.

Renton SD buys school supplies for elementary students in bulk. Parents can choose to participate in buying from them or not.
Our families can again this year choose to pay a low, one-time fee for school supplies for students including replacements throughout the school year. The district implemented the program last year as a way to reduce cost for families and make the school supply process more streamlined and economical. The program is voluntary: families can choose to continue to purchase their own school supplies.

Families pay a low, one-time fee of $30 ($10 for families on free/reduced lunch) for a year's worth of school supplies. You can pay by check/cash at school at the start of the school year, or pay online anytime at https://wa-renton.intouchreceipting.com.
Apparently some SPS elementaries do this already; Concord, North Beach, Queen Anne, Boren STEM.

I missed this event but there was a national movement to stand up for the children being held in caged detention by the Trump Administration.  On Sunday, July 28th, via Kids Take a Stand, lemonade stands popped up all over Seattle; the money raised  goes to two orgs that support those kids. Thank you to all the kids and parents who participated to help others.
All proceeds from the lemonade stands will be donated to 2 incredible organizations: the Rio Grande Valley Rapid Response and KIND (Kids in Need of Defense). The mission of Rio Grande Valley Rapid Response is to welcome, orient, feed, clothe, and otherwise serve the immigrants and refugees being released en masse in the Rio Grande Valley. KIND has a robust national network of pro bono attorneys who have represented unaccompanied children in their search for safety, and provides legal services and social services for released migrant children. 
The Native American group that supports Native youth, Clear Sky, will be vacating their space at Robert Eagle Staff Middle School this week per the district's edict that they are no longer a partner.  The fight still goes on but Clear Sky's sponsor, the Urban Native Education Alliance, is obeying an order to vacate.  The district should be much, much more transparent about why this is happening.  

I will not be able to attend tomorrow night's event put on by the SE Seattle Education Coalition to meet the candidates who are competing to replace retiring director Betty Patu.  I will have an open thread on Thursday for anyone who does attend and wants to weigh in on first impressions.

WHEN: Wednesday, July 31 | 6-8 p.m. | Doors at 5.30 p.m. Program starts promptly at 6 p.m.

Rainier Avenue Church*, 5900 Rainier Ave S, Seattle, WA 98118

*The Fellowship Hall entrance is around the back of the church, where the parking lot is located.

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said...

I’m no longer convinced that when it comes to education, public = good, and charter = bad. If public schools can’t be trusted to do a good job serving students with a wide range of diverse needs and learning styles, why shouldn’t charters try to help fill in some of the gaps?

This is not to suggest that charters aren’t often plagued by their own problems, nor that they don’t need more transparency and accountability—but these are somewhat of a myth in public schools, too. Take SPS, for example: the only accountability seems to be that we can keep voting a few directors out every once in a while and start over, crossing our fingers that maybe this batch of newbies will finally bring about increased transparency and accountability. When it doesn’t, we try and try again. Those running things behind the scene down at JSCEE often seem to have their own hidden agendas, and don’t really seem to listen to parents, and there seems to be little we can do about it. Many students are ill-served, and many more will be. I’m not sure how the absence of charters would change that.

All types

Anonymous said...

@MW , if this is going to be another liberal bitch blog then I will have to say goodbye and good luck to you. Please consider changing the URL and name because it no longer fits.

Good luck

Anonymous said...

@Good luck: no one is forcing you to read this, just don't read it any more and find other news sources you prefer. Why do you negative people continue to rant about this blog. It's not yours, you can stop reading. Don't concern yourself with the URL title of a blog that you can just stop reading. It's not useful for the rest of us.
--Please leave

Anonymous said...

Charters are stealing money from the district... So yeah they are bad. The city is also stealing resources from the district. And they're raising money for kids that who knows how it's being used? And all the while giving sweetheart deals to Green Dot charter School.


Anonymous said...

Anyone know how Michael Tolley's MTSS adoption / cohort dismantling ALTF 3 is going?

Simpletons con

Melissa Westbrook said...

All Types, we can have a bigger conversation about charters. I see your points.

Good Luck, I have never hidden that I am a Dem and I despise Trump. Job #1 for me is working to get rid of him. If that offends you, you might seek out another blog. Again, I already announced - multiple times - that the blog IS changing its focus to more national/broad-based issues and not SPS-specific ones.

Simpletons, the district posts regular meetings of the Taskforce. You can read the minutes.

Anonymous said...


The money is not the district's it's the taxpayer's. I say it's SPS that's doing the stealing.

Go charters

Anonymous said...

Unless they don't Melissa, which they haven't since May.


Anonymous said...

Is there a list of who the “phantom” PAC Moms for Seattle endorse? I’d like to NOT vote for their pet candidates.

Under the category of diabolical imaginations, other moms have figured out a legal approach to game the system: apparently parents are literally disowning their own children at the jump off point to the college application process so that they can get free money that was intended for children from poor households.

It is not a widespread practice, yet nevertheless, the lengths to which some people will go to is pretty awful. And it also is awful because you know that this is going to be used to indite all parents who advocate for their kids’ educational needs. The pendulum is swinging wildly left and right, smashing everything in our commons as a result. Nobody wins in this kind of game. It will all end badly for everyone.

The rich: "Poor people are just takers and moochers who love free money!"

also the rich: "I will literally disown my own child to mooch some free money meant for needy people."

Jaw-dropping story in the Wall Street Journal.

High-income parents in Chicago are transferring legal guardianship of their children to friends so the kids can claim financial aid.

College Financial-Aid Loophole: Wealthy Parents Transfer Guardianship of Their Teens to Get Aid
Education Department, universities are investigating the practice, which has been used in the Chicago area



Mike said...

@Good luck, are you saying you have nothing to contribute from whatever your side is? I ask as I've noticed conservatives with nothing coherent to say have withdrawn from newspaper Opinion pages - always in an unfounded huff about "liberals". Rather than get huffy about what you don't like, what say you make a mature choice between participating civilly as a conservative in this community blog and silently leaving a blog nobody is forcing you to read?

Before you go, however, you might consider we are in a radically more conservative era than was the case before President Reagan. That man's initiation of "Relevant Education" (I.e., education should only be for the purpose of making money for yourself, not for studying History or Literature) led to a huge dumbing down of the general populace. This has made "Liberals" today more akin to Eisenhower Republicans than, for example, to liberals of the 1960s. "Conservatives" have become emotion-driven-foaming-at-the-mouth-can't-focus-on-one-thought-long-enough-to-discuss-it-coherently reactionaries. Letters and comments from these folks are hard to decipher as they throw several topics into a single comment without showing connections (usually because there aren't any) between the topics. Today's conservatives are so reactionary that they consider traditional, coherent, readable conservatives like David Brooks irrelevant centrists. So,how clear are your comments Good luck.?

Anonymous said...

@ MSRP, charters are not "stealing money from the district." The money follows the kids, and the district is not entitled to those kids. It's like saying that if I downsize from three cars to two, I'm stealing money from my insurance company because my premium payments are lower. Or that if I stop eating at my neighborhood restaurant because they had a poor food safety rating I'm stealing from their profits because I divert my money to an establishment with fewer serious violations. It's a shame the district doesn't work to retain and serve all types of kids--and the funding that would come with them--but it doesn't. And to be honest, it doesn't seem to even care.

Maybe if public school districts didn't feel so entitled to our money and kids they'd try to do a better job of listening and serving

all types

Anonymous said...

@all types

I would be ok with charters if they were required to take AND keep ALL students who choose to go to their school, which is what public schools are required to do. They should also be required to have all students take the same standardized tests as public schools and have the data available like all schools.


Anonymous said...

That's a great approach. What about the students who don't want to be subjected to liberal activist teachers bias? What school should those students attend on the public's dime?

Go charters

Anonymous said...

There are parents in SPS who are vaunting the fraud of using an empty apartment address to further their child's education and thus avoiding private school tuition.

Same continuum as those referenced above, along with the pay for play admittance fraudster parents at USC and other schools.


HS Soon said...

Well, except the fraudster parents at USC are getting USC. Parents in Seattle are still getting SPS. Even if you're attending one of SPS's elite free high schools (Garfield, Ballard, Roosevelt), you're still just getting an SPS education. Is Sealth better or worse than the high schools on Vashon or in Highline? Is RB better or worse than the high schools in Tukwila or Renton? Is Garfield better or worse than Mercer Island or Bellevue? Are Hale and Ingraham better or worse than Bellevue, Lake Washington, Northshore and Shoreline?

If I were going to fake an address, I think I might be tempted to fake one outside of SPS...

Anonymous said...

Science Teacher, not sure who you mean when you say public schools must teach ALL students. Uh. No they don’t. Students with run of the mill disabilities are routinely denied seats in their elementary schools. Routinely. As in, all the time. They are also booted from their assignment school all the time. Additionally, their disabilities are overstated to get them assigned to the ubiquitous “somewhere else”. And, to make matters even worse, the district guarantees them nothing except a classroom somewhere. Have you not heard about how great the SPS bus service is? And to top it off, SPS now has more than $15 million in out of district contracts for special education. So, let’s not whine about those mean charter schools not doing their fair share. SPS really has no room to criticize someone else. And really. Does anyone care about standardized tests? If you’re resting your laurels on that, you need to think again.

Sped Parent

Old Timer said...

Sadly, my thoughts are aligned with Science Teacher and all types.

I've come to the conclusion that our public education system is hopelessly broken. I expect Seattle Public Schools to be in a steady state of decline.

Similar to Amplify, shall the Advanced Learning Taskforce issue a preordained outcome??

Today, the Seattle Times reports that home prices are falling. This means less funding for Seattle Public Schools.

Anonymous said...

Re: charter schools.

I am against charter schools. I actively campaigned against them with WEA and some key Olympia legislators. However, having said that, I am deeply conflicted now: Amplify was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back.

Seattle public schools is a hopelessly broken institution. They vacuum our money at an ever increasing clip, yet failed to deliver any value for that money.

They don’t educate kids with special needs, they do not do much of a job educating kids from impoverished backgrounds, kids experiencing homelessness, kids who are English language learners, kids who are gifted. Under the circumstances, I can’t blame anybody who’s trying to jump the SPS ship to try and get their kid(s) educated. Education should be about excellence, it should be about how how high can you fly. SPS in my opinion is only about the optics of *seeming* to do the right thing, not about robust evidence-based information driving sound educational policy. SPS in my opinion would rather be thought of as doing the right thing rather than actually doing the right thing. Because doing the right thing is hard, but pointing fingers and assigning blame and getting parents pitted against each other, well that’s easy. It’s also disgusting. Education is not a zero-sum game. Taking care of the needs of kids is their mandate, when they perpetually fail to take care of some kids, their big idea seems to be “well, let’s start failing most kids if not all kids and then, in that way, we are being completely fair!” That is their version of equity.

Families with flexibility or means or the right circumstances are fleeing. And that’s a problem. Because like a health insurance pool, if all the healthy people leave, it can’t work for those who remain. Blaming the families who live is also not going to solve any problems. Or make things better for the kids who remain. Similarly, blaming the teachers or the teacher union is equally stupid. They are the actual adults who show up in the room to care for kids. So what if they want to get paid as professionals, they earn it!

So, the conundrum: can’t blame parents for trying to get their kids to go to a place where they will be challenged to learn something for every day that they attend school (that’s what they’re supposed to do right?), but I also see how diverting pupils away from public schools is going to be the death knell for the premise of public education, which is exactly what the Koch brothers are aiming for in their radical libertarian dreams.

Charter schools are also ripe for abuse and fraud, and can be run by charlatans who milk the system for dollars while not caring a whit about the kids in their school (there have been egregious cases in California for example). But I also see the appeal of charters for parents who want to breaking away from the awfulness of the many systemic failures of SPS to get situated in a one-off charter school focused on delivering academics and going for the absolute highest standards possible.

We live in a free and democratic society. Parents can’t be forced to submit their children to public schools. They can go private, parochial, homeschool, and now in the state of Washington they can go charter. It behooves Seattle Public School‘s to start doing the right things right. Not look like they’re doing the right things right, but do the things that nurture students’ minds. Seattle Public School picked Amplify. It is crap in every dimension. They’re going to have to live with the consequences. Declining enrollment. Spiraling costs. Bad test scores. Disaffected parents. And one day, possibly, a failed ed levy.


Anonymous said...

@Science Teacher Teresa, like I said, I agree that if charters are going to take public dollars, they need to be accountable. I don't know what the current reporting requirements are, but I personally believe they should be similar to public non-charter schools. I did notice that an OSPI report re: high school testing (incl. PSAT/SAT/AP scores) DOES include Summit Sierra, so maybe there are some reporting requirements already in place. It looks like OSPI also has state assessment data available for Summit Sierra online, so maybe the state tests are required (whether or not these are the best indicators of learning).

However, I disagree somewhat with your position that you "would be ok with charters if they were required to take AND keep ALL students who choose to go to their school, which is what public schools are required to do." As someone else suggested, while public schools may be technically required to take all comers and keep all who "choose" to stay, they are not required to provide services that make it likely that everyone will want to stay. A district may technically need to give your student a seat, but if that seat won't meet your student's needs, what good is that seat? SPS unofficially exits some students by not meeting their needs and driving them out--at the school level, or at the district level.

It should also be noted that not every public school in every district is required to meet the needs of every type of student. There are economies of scale that make it important to cluster certain programs and services. While it would be great if charters could figure out how to serve anyone and everyone well, I don't think that's completely reasonable. (They could probably do better, I don't know.) But if they are NOT retaining certain students that take more work, such as ELL or special ed students, I assume they also lose the dollars that come with such students. Then when SPS reabsorbs those students, I assume those extra dollars come with them. The funding system may not be perfect and may need tweaking, but I don't see that charters are skimming the most qualified and easiest to educate students. The data seem to suggest they do have a lot of students who have struggled in public non-charter schools.

I'm certainly not an expert on charters, and maybe there do need to be stronger requirements re: acceptance and retention, I don't know. But if a charter truly can't serve a kid well, I don't think they should be forced to keep that poor kid there, just because. [NOTE: Even with public school districts, the legislature provides wiggle room re: the provision of "mandatory" services based on things like financial feasibility (e.g., "such program shall recognize the limits of the resources provided by the state").]

I'm still not a big charter fan myself, but I think there are valid arguments to made on both sides.

all types

Anonymous said...

Dismayed, I couldn’t agree more.

We left for private and have never looked back, because we will never come back.

-Public2 Private

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dismayed, thanks for putting that story in about the parents dropping their guardianship in their kid's senior year. That is a truly greedy and disgusting act. I have to wonder if it's desperate middle class parents who just don't know how they will pay for college and can't go into debt to do it.

APP Parent, the AL taskforce had a retreat in July and a meeting in June and the minutes are there at the SPS website.

As I said, I'll have a separate charter school discussion but I agree that SPS has done little to nothing to keep students. I don't see that changing soon.

Sometimes I smile at how much real estate I have in some people's heads.

Friday Update said...

The district continues discussions with the city of Seattle regarding Memorial Stadium, a downtown high school and a downtown elementary school.

Advanced Learning Taskforce Committee information can be found here:


I can't Advanced Learning Taskforce Committee meeting minutes. Anyone?

Billy Billions said...

Funding nearly $20K per student now and all we seem to hear is how we need more. Always more, there’s never enough. There never will be enough.

For years I was anti charter. Not anymore.

For years I was a loud and proud backer of SPS.

Not anymore. I’ve been involves for more than 15 years. There has never been more money, yet there are fewer programs. Advanced learning is being dismantled. With all the money is the IB program at Rainier free of financial concern should? SPED is no closer to being adequately funded than it was decades ago.

Achievement gaps, despite armies of consultants and “educational professions” remain stubbornly stable.

Transportation? Really, you can’t get the busses to and from the local schools.

This fall the teachers will get more and the students will get less.

It’s time for something new, it’s time for charters.

Anonymous said...


They weren't as of my posting, and were missing over a months minutes.

Looks like they are trying to ram it through like High School pathways. Fast and furious. No Board member should allow that.


Anonymous said...

ALTF timeline from July's minutes:

"...package deliver expected for Superintendent in August. Deadline of Sept 8th to have a draft rec presented to the CA&I committee. Board Action is set to be October."

Some tidbits:

- "One committee member spoke about language in the document, and potential impacts to student who *need* services." Hmm. When they say "need," are they referring to those generally working *more* than 2 grade levels ahead, or ?

- "Presentation on student voice. 4 HC middle schoolers (all males of color) from Washington Middle School were selected to participate." Only males and only students from one school (and middle school only?)? And a school which was anything but stable last year? They reported: "Frustrations they expressed did not seem to be HC related. Students said they felt comfortable and valued in the program."

- "program design- prototypes were given out including looking at neighborhood programs, Explanation of MTSS and Tier 1 and 2 services. Group discussion on the potential models,
and how a student would be placed in any given service pathway"

And listed in red print (under program design discussion):

1. Advancement Services- MTSS, scaffolding
2. Highly Capable Program -grouping models within the neighborhood school targeting need, applied acceleration groups, weekly enrichment groups, student learning plans
3. Profoundly Gifted Program- option for ‘outliers’ multi-age classrooms a synchronous support strength-based SDI for 2E
*I put these in red in case you want to cut so they aren’t in the public record as a draft before the group has a recommendation
[end comment included in the minutes]


Anonymous said...

From the Davidson Institute for Talent Development:

What is the definition of “profoundly gifted”?

Profoundly gifted individuals score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ tests and have an exceptionally high level of intellectual prowess. These students score at least three standard deviations above the norm on the bell curve, so they are at the extreme end of the intelligence, or IQ, continuum.

Is SPS capable of 1) identifying and then 2) designing and delivering appropriate services for those identified as "profoundly gifted?" I'm guessing such students and families will continue to fend for themselves and find "make work" solutions until they can access college level work.


Anonymous said...

So yeah RAMMING SPEED. Let's get this through before the public realizes we stacked the TF to kill the supportive cohort model. Nothing to see here please move on. The Board should not let staff make such sweeping changes without input from the community those changes are going to impact the most... MTSS is not best practices in any of the literature. Cohort service delivery is.


Anonymous said...

@sped parent and all types

I would say that my comments about charter schools verses public schools would be based a well-run district. As someone who has worked in SPS for 18 years, I would never say that SPS is well run. We are just too big for that to ever happen. There are always lots of ideas about how to fix the problem, however you hardly ever hear people talk about breaking it up. In my opinion, until that happens we will never solve the problems.

As a general ed science teacher my knowledge of what happens with Special Education comes only from what I see in my classroom. I thought under the new model that all students were assigned to their neighborhood schools. SPS has never considered science to be one the "inclusion" classrooms-meaning that I have never co-taught with a special ed teacher like what happens in Language Arts and Math. The best I can hope for is that if the student need is great enough, then an IA will be there for a period or two. I do know that SPS has never funded the Special Ed as they can or should and I know that this has caused many good teachers to leave special education and/or the district.

@dismayed- well said.


Watching said...

The district and board majority has gotten into the habit of passing non-sustainable initiatives. I've asked the board not to approve an Advanced Learning Taskforce plan that does not have an adequate and stable funding source.

I was told there would be a template regarding this issue.

Time will tell...

Anonymous said...

Also included in Davidson FAQs:

What happens to gifted students in a traditional, one-size-fits-all learning environment where they are not allowed to soar ahead?

Many parents report that their children become frustrated, unmotivated and develop behavioral problems when they are not appropriately challenged in school. Students, especially girls, will “dumb-down” and hide their intelligence to fit in socially. [bold added]


Melissa Westbrook said...

I hear all that is being said here and, for the most part, I agree.

It's a weird thing. Seattle Schools is a mid-sized urban district. It's not huge so it shouldn't be that unwieldy. It's urban in that there is diversity and differing needs throughout the district. I have never supported the "we should break it up into smaller districts."

Despite a Strategic Plan, I'm not sure everyone IS on the same page at JSCEE. And, I'm not sure I believe that everyone is committed beyond saying so. I mean, why this spending on a new logo, new motto? Does that mean it's a new day in SPS? Nope, it means someone wants to put their stamp on the district.

Are charter schools going to help or hurt? Both. Clearly, some areas of the city where charters are concentrated will feel the pain of losing students. But, when parents don't feel listened to, don't feel the commitment to ALL students in the district, well, a charter school could look mighty appealing.

Just know that if your kid doesn't fit their box, they will find a way to exit your child. And it's not just about Sped services of ELL services. It could be a number of things - they might not like you, the parent. So there's no guarantee if you start in a charter, you'll finish at that same charter.

You have to think about what is best for your child.

But back to SPS. I think that Superintendent Juneau firmly has the reins. And, with the number of departing school board incumbents, she will have fewer people to check her work. While I think she is a caring person, I also think she is ambitious (nothing wrong there). I am hoping that just checking boxes is not good enough for her. I am hoping that she sincerely cares about the academic success of every single child in the district.

But I'm not sure at this point what she really thinks. And, that, my friends, is a problem for all parents in the district.

Anonymous said...

"...a Profoundly Gifted Program whose students would receive academy services."

Huh? Do outliers need something different? Absolutely. But what qualifies as profoundly gifted in SPS? Hoagies Gifted says it's IQ of 180+, which occurs in fewer than 1 per million. That would be a pretty small "academy", no? And how does SPS plan to identify profoundly gifted students via its eligibility procedures? What about "exceptionally" gifted students (still very rare in SPS, given 1:10,000 - 1:1 million)? Maybe "highly gifted" would be more appropriate, since those occur more like 1:1,000 - 1:10,000...meaning about 5-55 students at this level in SPS. Still a pretty small academy, especially if students opted out due to long travel times (if one site) and the absence of a reasonable cohort of peers (you'd be luck to have another student or two in your same grade, and the chances of having one who you really got along with would be even slimmer). Sucks to be more than moderately gifted in SPS, no?

all types

Anonymous said...

I think a lot of people are concerned about the direction of SPS right now. The Superintendent is very top-down and corporate friendly and is actively hostile to public input. There's a clique of folks gathered around the SCPTSA leadership who are equally hostile to other parents and are determined to smash a bunch more programs, including all option schools and specialized programs. Big corporations are on a mission to replace teachers with screens and SPS-SCPTSA are totally on board with this. SEA seems to be ok with it too, though I'm surprised there hasn't been a revolt from the rank and file whose jobs are about to be eliminated by a screen-loving leadership.

I don't have any love for HCC but if it gets eliminated you can bet money that the option schools are next in line.


Anonymous said...

"A presentation on procedure focus: a program design and prototype was shared with Achievement Services receiving MTSS support; Highly Capable Program offered at all schools with grouping models targeting need, weekly enrichment interest groups..."

That sounds like ALO, which was less than Spectrum, which was less than APP. Ugh.

all types

Anonymous said...

Based on the types of conversations they are still having, the ALTF appears to be nowhere near being ready to make specific guidance and/or recommendations. Or at least HIGH QUALITY guidance and recommendations.

Some group members felt that the traditional practice of cohorting does not necessarily violate the new mission vision and commitments. Staff shared that some schools that were able to provide separate services successfully. A specific school that has been struggling was called out as an example of not all schools being able to serve all students. Group discussion on why middle school wasn’t included in the prototype model and was told that the group charge is for guidance, not necessarily specific programmatic design. Discussion was had on barrier free access at the middle school level. The group felt continuum needs to be developed with oversight at the secondary level, and discussion was had about if the prototype carries assumptions about the label or designation needed for accessing services.

I'm sorry, but that's BS. If you're not going to discuss the specifics (e.g., middle school; disparities in school capacities; how --and whether--various programmatic designs are feasible; how many students would be included in each category of services, such as 2e or profoundly gifted). You can't really develop a general prototype that is supposed to be overarching if you aren't considering the many commonplace situations that might not align with that generic and hypothetical prototype.

It's sounding a lot like the recommendation the 24-credit task force came up with... You know, the one they acknowledged might not work for certain kids (e.g., IB students), but that they didn't bother to look into that before making their recommendation anyway.

Hey ALTF members--don't let the district staff force you into presenting recommendations that are premature and that have or been evaluated for feasibility. Consider what sort of numbers you're talking about for each group, including the smaller groups like 2e or profoundly gifted. Make sure the schools and teachers have reasonable capacity to implement something consistent with the guidelines. Think about how the social and emotional development of kids in some of these smaller service categories would be impacted, including highly gifted students with LDs that have 504 plans but that could potentially qualify for IEPs if that didn't force them into this hypothetical 2e SDI service). You need to break things down into finer groups, better explaining who would qualify for which category of service and what that service might entail.

I know the downtown folks don't want to you to provide more than vague guidelines, but that's so they can do whatever they want and act like it fits your vision. Don't fall for it. Be explicit. Where there are serious concerns that need to be addressed first--by the task force or another public group, not staff--spell that out. Don't let them use you as cover. Please.

all types

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows the Seattle HC program is a complete joke.

Please don't start quoting from the gifted manuals to try to keep your
golden ticket.

SPS HC is NOT a "gifted program." Period.

In fact, its entrance requirements actually keep many actual gifted students
from getting in.

Gifted programming started out to help the students who were underachieving
in general education.

This program is a national disgrace as is. Juneau and others are not stupid.

Maybe it takes "top down" management (aka backbone) to finally get this montrosity under control.


Anonymous said...

@comment, don't shoot the messenger. It's the ALTF, under downtown oversight, that seems to be recommending a "profoundly gifted academy."

Do I think profoundly (and highly and exceptionally) gifted students in SPS need something different? Yes. Do I think we need to do better at identifying these students and providing appropriate services? Also yes. Does it appear the ALTF has addressed these issues of identification and services? No. Do I think they need to think more about the logistics of how to do both. Absolutely. That was my point.

Also, I have no clue what you're talking about re: keeping my golden ticket. I actually agree with what I assume undergirds your comment, that there's an important distinction between high achievement and giftedness (though many student can certainly exhibit both). You referred to "actual gifted students," so I assume you do believe intellectual giftedness (i.e., extreme outliers) does exist. Nothing I said is contrary to that.

You seem to be making a lot of assumptions that just aren't true. If you have a specific question, I'm happy to respond.

all types

Anonymous said...

@comment, the SPS HC program began as IPP, a program to serve highly gifted students. The program has morphed and changed over the years, and it's arguably now more like Spectrum, but its history is one of serving the outliers. See "The Uncommon Child." It began as a University of Washington study of "highly precocious" children (1974), was extended to a preschool program (1976), and then a K-12 program in SPS (1978) with all of 75 students. It was designed for students working 4 grade levels ahead of age peers. The UW Early Entrance Program (EEP) was started around the same time and is still running.

Given the SPS programming trajectory of the last ten years, it seems highly unlikely SPS will create something similar in the near future. They won't even supervise or support students who are working independently with online coursework. They recently put procedural barriers in place for students wanting to access accelerated coursework online.


Anonymous said...

I am well aware of the history of IPP. Gifted education itself, which I was referring to, was an outgrowth of the exceptional child movement which was aligned with SpEd philosophy.

Seattle's IPP was experimental. I am all for a self-contained program that is reserved for outliers. That parallels least restrictive environment.

The rest should receive a continuum of services in their neighborhood schools.


Jet City mom said...

University Child Development School originated as a pilot study on campus at the UW in connection with Harvard, of gifted preschoolers.
Was that the same study you are referencing reality?

I’m not familiar with all the history, and I hadn’t heard that IPP/APP was a part of that, although I did observe a few Horizon classrooms.
So not impressed with Horizon classrooms, which was really unfortunate.

I don’t remember if I viewed Madrona, but as our oldest didn’t meet criteria for any enriched classroom in the district that was moot anyway.
However, she was part of another study at CDMRC, where she worked with Dr Robinson who advocated for her to attend UCDS.
It took us a year of trying to find alternatives, including hoping for admittance at Summit K-12, but she did eventually land at UCDS when they “ made us an offer we couldn’t refuse”.

It’s really a shame our district does not see the potential in students who have more variability than off the rack.
It’s more stressful than it needs to be for parents and for the kids.
I certainly am sympathetic to families who are looking for more input to their child’s education experience.
But I’m not optimistic that charters will fill that need anymore than Seattle public schools.

Anonymous said...

OMG gifted pre-schoolers?

If you have a child who is proficient at reading before Kindergarten then you are a fool to let any SPS teacher near them.

You must home school with outside resources.


Anonymous said...

IPP students were expected to go to the Robinson Center after 8th grade. Now very few do go. Very few are prepared for 9th grade let alone to be freshmen in college.

Water well under the bridge. Now we have Kari Hanson preparing the great lie to the Board. "It's clear the majority of our handpicked TF members who have been presented limited info have decided in haste to say yes to doing something different. So MTSS is different and we now say that is what they want because the likes of Devin Bruckner, who stole speaking seats for her Gates nonprofit, says so.

Golden tickets don't exist in SPS. You buy your ticket for the only rigged system which is option schools.


Jet City mom said...

I wasn’t made for homeschooling ( I’m on the spectrum and verbal stuff is hard), but she taught herself to read when she was three.( like frog & toad books)
In spite of being born ten weeks early and having intercrainal bleeds.
The kindergarten teacher at our neighborhood school freaked me out when I simply asked if there was other stuff she could do besides learning the alphabet. She suggested we look elsewhere.
I was very young and only noticed that there was a school within a few blocks when we moved in.
I thought that was all I needed to know!

I really feel for young parents.

Anonymous said...

Reposting this, correcting my earlier typo and adding a bit:

Hey ALTF members,

Please don't let the district staff force you into presenting recommendations that are premature and that have NOT been thoroughly evaluated for feasibility. For example, consider what sort of numbers you're talking about for each group, including the smaller groups like 2e or profoundly gifted. If you're going to propose a "profoundly gifted academy," who would qualify and how would they be identified and how and where would they be taught? This is important information to discuss NOW--even if staff don't want you to--because otherwise you have no way of knowing if your proposed "prototype" is viable. At all. And if it isn't, the district will just have their way with it and do whatever they want, saying gosh, the ALTF recommended x but that doesn't really work, so we'll just eliminate that component and stick with classroom-based services for all (AKA no HC services).

Make sure the schools and teachers have reasonable capacity to implement something consistent with your prototype/guidelines, too. You expressed concerns about differences in capacity, and yes, you're probably on the right track there. So how does this influence your recommendations? Oversight isn't enough (and rarely happens in SPS anyway). So how do you come up with guidelines/recommendations/prototypical services that are "immune" to these disparities that we all know exist? You need something robust, and something specific enough to address these challenges. It's simply not enough to acknowledge them and not deal with them.

What about the social and emotional development of kids, especially kids in some of these smaller service categories that aren't explicitly called out in your generalized planning? How, for example, would highly gifted students with learning disabilities be treated? Would those with IEPs end up in multi-grade level SDI 2e classes, while those with 504 plans might end up in regular classes? What if either group also meets the outlier criteria for the proposed academy--would they be welcome there? In a school with fewer HC students--and thus even fewer 2e students--how many kids would be in a SDI 2e class, and would that really provide a reasonable social/emotional experience for those kids? You have to look at the numbers--and not just averages.

I know the downtown folks don't want to you to provide more than vague and general guidelines, but there is considerable risk in not thoroughly thinking through the unique situations. You're talking about outliers, who are by their definition not typical. You're also talking about outliers among outliers. One outlier is not like another, and they can't be easily lumped together into a single prototypical service category. This is not really an area conducive to a lot of generalization and oversimplification. Downtown wants you to not think too deeply about the specifics so they can turn around and do whatever they want and claim (a) that it aligns with your vision and recommendations, or (b) that your recommendations didn't really address x, y or z, or weren't really practical, so they are taking a different approach. Don't fall for it. As your recent minutes demonstrate, there are legitimate concerns and questions coming up, but there are still WAY too many unanswered questions for you to be anywhere near ready to make any legitimate recommendations. There is a LOT more analysis and consideration that still needs to happen for this ALTF work to come off as credible. I'm not saying you haven't done a lot of good work thus far--but you've still got a long ways to go. Please don't punt. Keep driving.

all types

Melissa Westbrook said...

JR, I agree with your summary and that Option Schools are next.

"This program is a national disgrace as is. Juneau and others are not stupid.

Maybe it takes "top down" management (aka backbone) to finally get this montrosity under control."

Hyperbole much? You really negate your points with that kind of over-the-top nonsense.

All Types:

"Downtown wants you to not think too deeply about the specifics so they can turn around and do whatever they want and claim (a) that it aligns with your vision and recommendations, or (b) that your recommendations didn't really address x, y or z, or weren't really practical, so they are taking a different approach."

Yes, yes, yes.

Amplify That! said...

All types makes a lot of sense.

Anonymous said...

What happened to the minimum cohort size the HCS-AC suggested with the last go around? A continuum of services needs a viable cohort, hence pathways. Budget wise, you need a critical mass to offer full enough classes (haven't we recently seen the issues of smaller cohorts at RESMS where they allowed math acceleration until they didn't, and families were left on their own to figure it out?).


Anonymous said...


You’re mistaken that SPS HC is not a gifted program.

SPS uses the most effective* curriculum intervention for gifted students, acceleration (*per gifted experts report, “A Nation Deceived”).

It’s very cost effective, clear-cut and relatively easy to implement.

Given SPS economic realities, it’s the one thing they do right. The expense of Specialized gifted curriculum a la Bellevue or enrichment would be shot down in an instant by the equity folks as you well know.

Other modes of gifted teaching strategies such as depth, complexity and pace are in theory enmeshed in acceleration yet in practice vary by teacher, training and sometimes misinterpreted as the case where people think pace = fast.

I do agree with you that using achievement tests to block entry belies a true understanding of the purpose of teaching.

National disgrace? Joke? No, that’s obvious hyperbole. What SPS may be known for nationally is its far left politics and achievement gap, but not HCC.

As to disgrace, you may want to consider that the head of Equity in HCC used an appeal to gain her child entry into HCC yet refuses to give up her “golden ticket” despite working with Wyeth Jesse to remove appeals for everyone else behind her.

I can’t respect someone who doesn’t live by their ideals.


suep. said...

How is it that the district has the resources to spend on a logo no one needs, but claims to have no resources to produce the academic calendar that families do use?


Just a small example, but part of a pattern of the district making questionable choices in its priorities and expenditures.

Anonymous said...

OMG, I thought the logos were bad, but those possible slogans are awful!

One possible slogan the district is considering is "We Are Excellence: One City. One District. One Goal." Another option is “Seattle Excellence. Engage. Empower. Educate.”

Seriously? Our city has one goal? If so, I doubt it's education. Our district has one goal? The new SPS strategic plan they are trying to market via this slogan literally has 4 priorities and 12--TWELVE--explicit goals.

RE: the second option, how do those words even fit together? Is "Seattle Excellence" the goal, and someone (?) needs to engage, empower, and educate to get there? Or are they saying we have achieved excellence, because we already do these things (to some extent)? Are these school-related, or citywide? It sounds like it could just as easily be a motto for the City Council instead of the school district.

Also, how do "engage," "empower," and "educate" relate to the strategic plan? I see "engage" is one of the priorities, and education (for at least some groups) is also a priority, but the other two don't seem to address "empowering," so that seems out of left field. And if better operational systems and a more culturally responsive workforce were both so important that they rose to the level of top 4 priorities in the new strategic plan, why are they also not reflected in the slogan?

Maybe the consultant needs some help. Ideas, anyone? I'm not good at coming up with this sort of PR BS, but I can recognize when things look "off."

How about:

Striving for Excellence: Educational Justice. Operational Efficiency. Cultural Responsiveness.
[Cuz we all know they ain't there yet, and they don't need to include the last priority re: engagement since it's only re: those furthest from educational justice and is thus already covered.]

Or maybe something a little more honest, like:

Excellence in Education: One Size. Fits All. Well Enough.


Seattle Style Education: Don't like it? You can leave.

Seriously, we need some decent slogan options.

Ideas, anyone?

Jet City mom said...

When do they start negotiating the teacher contract?

Anonymous said...

No, it's not a gifted program because it doesn't follow best practices for qualification for gifted students. In fact, SPS is exhibit A on how not to identify students.

SPS HC an achievement-oriented program. Period.

Because SPS is so backward in HC for a large school district, it is a national disgrace. I didn't say that it's on the nightly news.

"Hyperbole"? That's a straw man argument to avoid addressing the actual issue.

I agree that someone who got their kids in by appeal and now wants that type of appeals closed is a hypocrite.

So what? That, again, is a diversion from the actual issues.


Anonymous said...

The lack of engagement... A matter of days in the summer is more than they want for the wholesale overhaul of the HCC program. No family engagement. God forbid they bring out thoughtexchange again though. WJ got promoted even though members of his staff lied to the district on high school pathways. Memories are short. If the board allows staff to roll them again like they did for the amplify adoption they all should quit like Patu. Or I guess I should add DeWolf who quit sometime in November after he got elected.

As for the calendars versus bogus logos and slogans I'm with Sue p. We hang that calendar every year not sure we're going to do without it. Thank God we have access to computers. I looked over last year's calendar and it had five dozen annotations. I will never look at the logo or slogan and think boy that's helpful. I agree with Melissa this is just Juneau's attempt to quickly put a stamp on this district so she can DeWolf out of here. I guess I'm scratching my head right now what was so bad about Enfield?

Bada absentee
Nyland absentee
Juneau - ? Leaning DeWolf/Geary

squirrel isnuts

Melissa Westbrook said...

Comment, please provide that link to the "nightly news" where they said that.

Anonymous said...

@nJet City They have been negotiating the staff contracts since May. I've heard very, very little about it.


Amplify That! said...

There is a lot of good information on this thread. There needs to be a significant number of advanced learners in a class to create a cohort. Don't let the board rubber stamp this initiative!

Anonymous said...

@ comment, like most things in life, it's not so black and white.

HCC can be BOTH a gifted program AND and achievement-oriented program at the same time. Are the eligibility criteria skewed toward high-achievers, and likely to miss some gifted students? Yes. But HCC also includes many gifted students, and since acceleration is considered one effective approach to gifted ed, it's gifted ed for them. For those who wouldn't technically meet some "gifted" threshold eligibility criterion but who do qualify for HCC based on high achievement, I guess you could argue it's an achievement-oriented program.

This is actually pretty consistent with state legislation, which includes both highly capable and high achieving. Personally, I think the legislature created a lot of these issues by conflating the two, but conflate they did. They refer to "students who perform or show potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels." Performing "at significantly advanced academic levels" sounds like achievement, while showing "potential for performing at significantly advanced academic levels" sounds a lot like giftedness. They go on to note that outstanding abilities can be related to "intellectual aptitudes" or "academic abilities," which could also both be interpreted achievement and/or giftedness.

Just because SPS isn't doing a good job at identifying gifted students does not mean it's not a gifted program--it just means it's not a GOOD gifted program. In trying to split the difference between gifted and high-achieving, the program does a disservice to many who need it.

all types

Anonymous said...

@ oomment,

Yes, a reasonable person would consider you calling the program a “national disgrace” hyperbole.

Now that you’re clarifying that your critique is specific to eligibility and not curricular method, I’d still disagree with your conclusion that SPS identification procedures are in stark contrast to other school districts.

If you review other districts eligibility criteria, they’re remarkably similar to SPS, so the “national disgrace” comment is unsubstantiated by facts.

SPS could improve access by following Northshore’s recent change to grant eligibility via one criteria rather than requiring students to jump through every hoop as does SPS. North shore also lowered thresholds.

But make no mistake, Northshore, and other districts, still use ability or achievement tests and have threshold criteria, so if SPS is “backward” as you say, well then all districts are backward.

You’re conflating “actual gifted” (dog whistle) with low achievement. Some students can be both gifted and high achievers, because of temperament, motivation, interest and, frankly, the 1-2 year’s acceleration may still be too easy as to effortlessly achieve top marks.

I’d understand your argument if it was with ALL public school districts use of achievement criteria as a non-negotiable entrance criteria, but I can’t agree with your assumption that this is a situation unique to SPS.


Anonymous said...


I’m curious what are your examples of why you think it’s ONLY an achievement program? Is this something your child(ren) personally experienced?


Anonymous said...

Here's my take on SPS' new slogan:

SPS: Equity! Social Justice! Our centralized bureaucracy knows best! Educational mediocrity for all!

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Mom's For Seattle may have indeed put a phony photo of tent campers on their campaign ads, but it's not that far from what we have witnessed. I do remember there were people camping out at Whitman Middle School during one of the school breaks, also needles are indeed being found routinely all over including in many school yards. I kind of don't understand the extreme anger toward this group about posting a phony picture, when they are highlighting some of the public safety issues we are experiencing all over including in school yards. I think most reasonable people would agree we have a problem that needs to be better addressed. I think focusing on this group and a photo shop picture instead of the issue they are highlighting misses the mark.

The Stranger also tried to out who is in this group and is biased in their reporting. They lead the readers to infer all members (they think) are in the group come from dubious backgrounds...example a wealthy female real estate broker who descends from "one of the first white settlers of Seattle", someone married to a hedge fund executive etc.

NW resident

Mike said...

@FedUp Your new slogan accurately represents the agenda of critical pedagogy. It has been pushed across the country for decades but it seems parents haven't figured out it's agenda or how programs such as MiF and Amplify promote that agenda. I wish parents would research critical pedagogy, look at how some curricula and materials promote it, and find out who in SPS subscribes to the doctrine of critical pedagogy.

Anonymous said...

NW Resident

My problem with Moms for Seattle is that they are misrepresenting themselves, and trying to manipulate voters using emotionally charged fake photos. If they want to be honest, then they can identify themselves and their issues in an honest & forthright manner. The fact that none of their names is even on their website, leads me to wonder if they are even local. I'm a Seattle mom, no one invited me to join a group of mom's supporting Seattle. When are we meeting?

I am very concerned with issues you mentioned, but I will not be anonymously & dishonestly manipulated like that.

- Seattle Mom

Anonymous said...

Seattle does not use single subject gifted and does not norm either CoGAT or achievement in ways to capture students who don't have access to Amazon prep books or Bellevue prep academies, home enrichment, etc.

This results in a program that is almost exclusively skewed to children of highly educated parents, which is a national disgrace because Seattle is supposedly so "progressive."


Anonymous said...

CogAT (Cognitive Abilities Test)


Anonymous said...

@ comment, norming the tests means you also need to adjust the services to match. With a service model based on acceleration, taking the top x% from each school or race or income group means the current achievement level of each student would be all over the place. It also means that students who fell just below x% at one school might be denied learning at the appropriate level, while student exceeding the normed cut-off would get access even if their current performance level was lower than those who didn't get access. It's messy.

As explained by the maker of the CogAT, whether to use local norms or not is based largely on what services you intend to provide. If you're putting people into the same accelerated course of study, having universal cut-offs makes sense. If you're willing to provide a more developmental approach with tailored services that meet students where they're at--a good idea, but more challenging and expensive--then local norms make sense. In other words, the eligibility criteria and the program of services need to be aligned. The instructional approach needs to match the target population.

And this idea that there is some widespread effort on the part of parents to prep their students for HCC eligibility testing is not consistent with anything I've seen or experienced. Believe it or not, there are kids who pick things up on their own and qualify.

You complain that some kids get an apparently unfair advantage by getting "home enrichment," which can mean things like having a book around, having exposure to more vocabulary words, etc. So what some may call "nurture" is unfair in your eyes and distorts later identification as gifted. Does it also distort the development of giftedness itself, or just the identification of it? I think you've previously argued that giftedness doesn't have a genetic component (though most researchers suggest it's a combo of both nature and nurture), so where does it come from if it's not nature or nurture? You argue it's not innate, but also that disparities in experience distort how we recognize it--which seems to suggest you think it actually is innate. Doesn't make sense. I've never been able to get you to share your thoughts on that contradiction over the years.

Maybe today?

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone want to engage in part of the eugentics-type of of arguments that have been rampant here for years? Or the lead paint arguments?

The state law mandates a "continuum of services" not a one-size-fits all model, whether it be achievement or not. Time for SPS to foolow state law. Servies should follow the student. The student should not fit in a service box.

Again, SpEd has been much of model of the state law mandate. Sounds like the district is finally on the right track through a discussion of reserving self-contained for the extreme outliers.


Anonymous said...

Btw, I'm sure parents would willingly have discussions about their favorite CogAT test prep manuals,etc. on the playgrounds at HCC.

Give me a break.