Saturday, March 10, 2012

Another open thread

The last open thread is mostly new parents asking existing parents about APP. Let's do a new open thread to cover any other topics (APP survey, a home for L@L, situation at Hamilton, capacity, upcoming meetings, PTAs, school board, and anything else) that parents might want to talk about?


Anonymous said...

I would like to see some comments on these posts from the previous thread:

Anonymous said...
What is going on in Hamilton lately?

From the Seattle Schools Community Forum:
"The 6th graders at Hamilton are all being taken to the Hunger Games movie as a field trip. This is all being done with the full support of the principal. It includes 6th graders in all programs at the school.

I don't understand how this fits into the curriculum."

And from my 7th grade student: in homeroom the teacher wanted to show us the Kony 2012 PR youtube video 2 days ago but instead he said it is a homework. With no discussion before/after.

Does Mr Carter make these decisions???? Based on what???

March 9, 2012 10:25 PM

Anonymous said...
There is another fact from the Seattle Schools Community Forum:
Open enrollment ended (not yet because of the power outage earlier today in the South end but almost!) and still no public report about the alleged misconduct by Mr K and/ or Ms G at Lowell last year.


March 9, 2012 10:56 PM

Anonymous said...

In 5th grade, the class read The Secret Garden. In 6th grade, they read explicit descriptions of marital relations and infidelity in African tribal culture. Quite a leap.

You expect that middle school is going to expose your child to things they may have been sheltered from when they were younger, but you wouldn't expect the teachers to be the ones foisting it on them.

Anonymous said...

Isn't The Hunger Games a PG-13 movie? Why are they bringing 11-12 year olds to it?

Anonymous said...

Hamilton rules
Do they really exist?
And yes, according to my knowledge also, Hunger Games is PG 13.
But: if you don't sign the permission form for the field trip, your student can not go to participate.

But I am not sure what can you do about the not so appropriate homework? The KONY 2012 PR stuff is included...

And about the rules? There is a dress code but nobody enforce it.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible the movie theater manager will not let the 11 and 12 year olds in? Is a permission slip really enough to allow entry to a PG-13 rated film? I am confused because I thought that, at least in theory, the PG-13 rating meant the child's parents/guardian had to actually be present with the child at the movie.

Also Wondering said...

I would like to see if anyone knows anything about the results from the APP survey, as someone asked in the previous thread:

Anonymous said...
Have the results of the Advanced Learning Survey been shared? If so, where can they be accessed?


March 9, 2012 5:39 PM

Anonymous said...

PG-13 means parents are "strongly cautioned" that some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. It has never meant that the actual parent must be present.

You are thinking of R which requires a parent or guardian present.

Anonymous said...

Again, from the other Seattle blog site. It seems to me that over there the parents are more upset.

"Hamilton parent said...
There is a huge difference between introducing the bk HGames in class, vs attending a (not previously screened) Hollywood movie rated PG-13 for scenes of graphic teen-on-teen violence, for 6th gr class trip. These kids are 11 - 12 yo. Was this really the best choice? The other grades went to Skate King and Puyallup Fair for their class trip. Lots of kids are opting out on their own, yet others are afraid to see the movie but feeling much peer pressure. What kind of msge is the admin sending with this plan? MANY parents are complaining, but admin is refusing to adjust the plan. I have no issue with having it fit into the curriculum -- its supposed to be a fun trip where kids get a chance to socialize. This is only creating stress among many parents and kids. It also indicates that the admin has a strong disregard for parents concerns, IMO. Meanwhile, a few wks ago Hamilton abruptly cancelled showing Finding Kind for 6th graders as it would be too disturbing (showed it to 7th and 8th gr girls only..?? WTH!) This is one more example of teachers/admin that are not in tune with the values of the population they are serving. Yes many parents and kids are fine with and excited about seeing HG, but enough are seriously upset that its created a huge backlash. Personally, I'm baffled at this choice and dont see the upside for the admin. Bad decision making.
3/10/12 3:11 PM"

Anonymous said...

More views on the Hunger Games debate:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps students should be writing to voice their objections. Their voices may carry more weight than their parents.

My child has read the books and wants to see the movie, but doesn't think it's a good choice for a school field trip. Knowing some friends are uncomfortable as well, my child is willing to forego the trip. We'll probably see the movie at another time, but not miss a day of school for it.

It's not like it's a once in a lifetime event.

Anonymous said...

Out of some many things (like musem, science center, SAM, Aquarium, Zoo, etc) which could provide education and / or social content also, why do they have to choose a PG 13 movie in 6th grade? 2 hours in the dark to watch a movie with full of violence?
Bad decision. Again. I feel that it is not even a news any more because there are so many bad decisions in Hamilton - on every level. Is Mr C the best principal we could have? Really?
I feel (and maybe I am not alone with this) that he can not really keep up with the growths of the school.

Anonymous said...

I just read that the Principal sent out an e-mail for the concerned parents about the Hunger Games movie. I will copy one comment to that letter here because that is exactly what happened when we had problems with one of the 7th grade LASS sub earlier this year. But from this comment and its place (Seattle Schools Community website) it seems to me that not only the APP parents have concerns these days.

"The letter acknowledged concerns, but essentially said they're moving ahead anyway. It says that it was a team decision that weighed the positives and negatives without stating what the merits of the trip really are. It clearly said it was not an educational trip.

They are fully aware of concerns and aren't concerned. That is the story of our year at Hamilton.

-Hamilton parent
3/11/12 11:47 AM"

Anonymous said...

This is distressing to me as an educator and as a parent of a 6th grader affected by this situation. The fact that the school would decide it's OK to take kids to a movie that is not even out yet, and therefore unvetted by the teachers, is unbelievable to me. And to choose a film that is rated above the level of the ages of the kids being taken to it models rule-breaking for the kids. And doing this during a school day w/o having enough room for all kids should be want to go is noninclusiveness.

To me this situation shows an extreme lack of judgment and critical thinking skills on the part of the teachers and Principal Carter.

Carter's reply to the parents who write to him with concerns is, oddly, a form letter that does not address the concerns voiced by the parents. He basically says it was a team decision (when in fact it seems to have been pushed through by one teacher who is a super-fan of The Hunger Games) and that he read the book with his daughter and he liked it, so he sees no problem with the event. So, I add to my concerns the fact that these educators do not see the differences between a book and a mainstream movie based on the book.

This whole situation is depressing.

Anonymous said...

Changing topics: I was told by my 6th grader that Ms. Chacon and Ms. Thurik are looping, that is, continuing with their current 6th graders into 7th grade. For us, this would NOT be a good situation. I have queried the administration but have not received an answer to an email sent on 3/5/2012. Has anyone else heard this information and does anyone know the liklihood of this happening?

HIMS parent said...

Yikes about looping!! We CANNOT have Thurik for Math again in 7th - that would be like a punishment. We've been hanging in there, waiting to get the "good" Math teachers (Pounder and someone else - cant remembr name - but current 7th gr Math teachers supposed to be great). I havent heard any confirmation on looping and in fact asked McClurg about it the other day and she said she didnt know yet. So maybe its just a rumor? If THurik is set to loop, we MUST protest loudly! We've already had a disastrous year with Math and the kids cant stand her either.

Anonymous said...

These same looping rumors went around last year - stemming from Thurik specifically. Ask for a deadline for a response and if you don't get one, forward all your emails onto the education director.7th and 8th students need solid teaching due to the staff weakiness in 6th grade.

Anonymous said...

So what's the best course of action re: the rumor of looping? Should we sit back and wait to see whether it's confirmed or not, or is it time for a parent petition now to try to make sure this goes nowhere? I really can't believe Mr. Carter would be willing to go the looping route given all the pressure he's already received from APP parents this year and last, but then again, there have been some wacky decisions before...

One Year is Enough

Anonymous said...

I would be horrified if Thurik looped with the 6th graders and became their 7th grade math teacher. One year of mediocre math instruction is enough. I don't expect that all of my kid's teachers will be standouts - but two years of terrible math instruction in a row is unacceptable.


Anonymous said...

But knowing what you all know about 6th grade instruction at Hamilton, you'll just leave it for the next crop of 6th grade families to deal with? What kind of a community is this?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 9:45pm, can you please clarify how not wanting our own children to loop with these awful teachers means we're just handing them off to someone else? Do you think we haven't done our best to get these teachers dismissed or reassigned? Do you think none of us have younger siblings who might face these teachers down the road? I, for one, have an APP 4th grader, so yes, I'm very aware of the potential consequences of maintaining these problematic instructors as 6th grade teachers. However, since I can't personally dismiss these teachers myself, if my choice is between having each of my children waste one year or having one child waste two in a row, I'll take the former. Sure, it's preferable if these teachers are gone--and many of us will continue to push for that. But subjecting the same kids to another year of the same would be disastrous.

Have a little faith in your fellow parents, please. Incoming 6th graders are not the only concern.

Anonymous said...

It is a great community because the 7th graders next year are open for the next challenge: who is going to be their LASS teacher??? Since Ms Shadow died, there is only a long term sub. (And another rather unexperienced teacher for one block class).
Who knows who is going to be hired for next year? It is like a lottery, will it be better than Ms C or worse (or maybe Ms C will do looping?)???

But, the math teachers are all really good...

Anonymous said...

You ask "what kind of community is this?"

It is one who has expressed its concerns to Principal Carter and Dr. Vaughen many times regarding the staffing issues with no resolution. It is a community who has reached out to APP AC for help. It is a community who is actively awaiting the survey results so that concerns can be daylighted. It is a community that has been very vocal on this blog regarding staffing issues.

If you have any suggestions, please post them. I believe many of us are at a complete loss. And am concerned about our third and final year at HIMS especially after two years of a really bumpy LASS experience!

Anonymous said...

As an incoming 6th grade family currently at Lincoln, I want to thank the current families at Hamilton for trying to fix these problems. I know it's been like banging your head against a wall. I don't know what more you can do, either. I know letters have been written and meetings have been requested, all to no avail. The principal is not interested in fixing the problems.

I am very nervous about next year. It's a shame.

5th grade parent

Sad situation said...

As a teacher, I would say the best thing to do is keep putting the pressure on. Now, I don't know the situation with these teachers. Keep in mind that sometimes principals can't fill all of the teaching vacancies with qualified teachers i.e. those with gifted experience or training. Teaching is not easy, but teaching gifted kids is a whole other game. It is a lot of prep work, much more than teaching regular ed. If these two teachers have no experience teaching gifted is everyone cutting them a bit of slack? Each year they should get better and improve. It is somewhat unrealistic to expect them to be stellar their first year. That said, bad teachers are bad teachers. If they truly are
bad they should realize this and my guess is they will request a non APP teaching assignment next year. Continue to inundate the principal with your specific concerns, I would also recommend that parents request to observe in their classes. Trust me, the teachers and principal will get sick of having to deal with the parent pressure and will make a change. Unfortunately, the poor teachers will just get pushed on to other kids possibly with parents who do not have as much organization and ability to put pressure on the necessary players. Many would argue the low and regular kids need strong teachers more than the gifted but I don't want to get into that argument. All kids need and deserve strong teachers and the poor teachers need to find another profession.

Anonymous said...

When are incoming sixth graders going to find out what math class they are in as well as their schedules.

Also my incoming sixth grader has scored ~ 240 for 18 on MAP. Is this common?

L@L dad

Unclear on the question said...

L@L dad--

What are you asking? I know some kids scored at least in the 270s in the past.

Anonymous said...

To L@L Dad - when my daughter was in 5th grade she also had a RIT score of about 240 on the Math MAP (this was after they adjusted the scores - her prior RIT scores had been higher). She's good at math but isn't a math genius - so I'm assuming this was a typical score for an APP student. And I'm assuming there are a number of APP kids with higher math scores. But I haven't compared scores with anyone so I don't know for sure.

Another data point said...

My third grader scored a 227 and isn't in the highest math group at L@L this year.

Anonymous said...


I find it somewhat baffling that for 18 months there has been no improvement in scores?

Anonymous said...

To: Sad situation
Yes, the situation is real depressing these days in Hamilton
The problem is that these non gifted educated teachers (there are more than 2 though) could easily come from regular classrooms because they did a poor job there (I know 1 for sure did).
But: with putting them in an APP class, "their teaching got better", according to their kids MAP score. So the parents have no base to argue if the principal comes back with the class MAP score to show the teachers achievement.
By the way, this is the same with the Principal: in 2011, Hamilton for the 2nd year in a row (exactly since APP moved there) won a "School of distinction Award".
I feel we are in a Catch 22: if you opt our from testing (that you could actually do with no problem and many students are doing it already) then you can not show your student's strength. But, at least you are not supporting the bad teachers and principals.
And what I found also in many case that these problematic teachers are to lazy to prepare an adequate workload (I mean quality and quantity here) for their students.

Anonymous said...

To L@L Dad:
My 5th grader scored in the 250th and he is not among the best 5 math students of his class at Lowell. I have heard a 5th grade math MAP score of 300 a couple years ago.

suep. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
suep. said...

We all need to opt out of MAP.

15 Reasons Why the Seattle School District Should Shelve the MAP® Test—ASAP

It does not correlate to what our kids are learning in school. It is being misused to evaluate teachers (never designed for this -- even the vendor, NWEA says so) and it is being used to shield weak teachers who can indeed point to their students' MAP scores and claim they must be doing a great job teaching since their students' MAP tests are so strong.

MAP is a costly waste of time, bought under questionable circumstances and adds yet another standardized test to our over-tested children.

It is unreliable for K-2nd graders, is not well suited to high achieving kids, especially gifted kids, who hit a ceiling on the test, and certainly is not a good test for English language learners.

It does not measure all the learning that takes place during the school year. Scores can and have been inconsistent -- dipping after the December break, for example, and then there was that entire 'recalibration' fiasco.

It is prompting some teachers to teach to the test, which is at the expense of deeper, richer learning for our kids.

The recent 'recalibration' debacle illustrated that it is an unreliable tool.

Finland, which has one of the best educational systems in the world, uses zero standardized tests.

Before SPS had the MAP test, teachers managed to assess the abilities of their students. So why has MAP suddenly become a crutch for everyone?

If we all opted out -- preferably all families in SPS -- valuable class time would be returned to our kids, weak teachers could no longer hide behind strong MAP test scores (that have nothing do with their teaching), and we could focus on real, meaningful learning and teaching for our kids.

If APP and Spectrum kids didn't bring high test scores with them, do you suppose the district would move our kids around as much as it does?

Anonymous said...

Opps I just re-read my original post and I didn't say 18 "months." My issue is that my 5th grader is scoring the exact same as she did in spring of 3rd grade. What gives?!? Is this because they haven't covered the material yet?

L@L dad

Anonymous said...

L@L Dad-

See Suep's post above. The MAP does NOT correlate with the SPS curriculum at all. The MAP is essentially an achievement test, albeit a poor one. If your child has not been exposed to new material, they won't improve their scores. I know my 5th grader is not learning much in math this year. CMP is not covering material that is new to them - I don't blame the teacher, btw. They didn't choose this horrible math curriculum.

Another L@L parent

karen said...

L@L/APP parents,

given the benefit of hindsight, would you stay at your neighborhood school if they didn't use EDM?

Anonymous said...

Karen- I wouldn't choose any school solely based on one subject. My answer is no.

Another L@L Parent

Anonymous said...

"given the benefit of hindsight, would you stay at your neighborhood school if they didn't use EDM?"

We moved to APP for middle school partly because we knew the Spectrum program was weak at this particular middle school and partly to be able to skip a year of CMP math. We will be using a tutor for 8th grade to cover Algebra so our student will be fully prepared for Algebra II in 9th grade. We did the same for our older student (not-APP)and it was a good decision!
The "double math" was not an issue as it really is amazing how much your student can learn with 1)a good text and b)one on one support.

Anonymous said...

I would make the switch to APP but our good neighborhood school uses EDM. There are too many benefits to AHG kids when they are placed in APP to consider math curriculum the primary reason.

L@L dad

Anonymous said...

We've found CMP (4th-6th APP) to be far worse than EDM. We haven't gotten to Discovering Algebra yet...

hopeful parent said...

I dont want everyone to be feeling negative about entering Hamilton next yr. There are some very gd things about Hamilton including the excellent music, language, and international arts program; very well-run (FREE!) after-school activities and sports; gd counseling support;and an attempt to help the kids bond and respect each other. Academically, there's no denying that each grade of APP has at least one core (Science, Math, LA/SS) teacher that is inadequate and possibly troubling. We luckily got the "good" 6th gr LA/SS teacher this yr (who btw was one of the few hired by PRincipal Carter - the known "bad" teachers were all inherited by him) so other than Math, we are very happy w/the teachers. Who knows what next yr wil bring. The 6th gr Science teacher rocks! Most importantly, I truly believe that most kids are having a gd experience, socially and in class. I have heard that many kids really like the 6th gr LA/SS teacher that parents are currently not thrilled with. Yes we need to continue to push for better teachers, ideally they would have gifted experience or at least just be a really competent teacher who goes deep with the curriculum, pushing the kids to think and express themselves. But as several previous posters expressed, we current HIMS parents are sort of at our limit with this. I look forward to new energy from the incoming parents who hopefully will volunteer and support the PTA. The PTA was almost completely inactive until about 2 - 3 yrs ago pre-split and pre NSAP, there was also no music program. SO a lot has been accomplished and we can continue to make things better. My kid and her friends seem to really be enjoying school and navigating the emotional drama of MS very well so far. If you look around SPS middle schools, you will see widespread dissatisfaction w/teachers, principals, and concerns about the behaviour of the students. Maybe we need to hear more from WMS parents - is all super-rosy over there?

NESeattleMom said...

I've been thinking a lot like "hopeful parent". My 8th grade APP Hamilton student has had a great 2.5 years at HIMS. She has enjoyed all of her teachers except one. She has learned a lot, enjoyed projects and friendships, music and growing up. I am not negative at all about HIMS, at least for my daughter and her friends. One of the teachers that was mentioned on this blog has favorites--my daughter did not have that teacher--but that could explain why some complain and others don't.

Anonymous said...

It's wonderful that many students and families are having great experiences at HIMS, regardless of which teachers they have. However, the idea that the current dissatisfaction is about teachers playing favorites is off base. Yes, that likely impacts whether students have positive vs. negative experiences to some extent, but the actual problems most of us see go far beyond this. Parents aren't outraged that the teacher seems to prefer some students to others--no big deal, that happens all the time! What they ARE outraged about is that the teacher who plays favorites also does not seem to have sufficient mastery of the subject matter she is supposed to be teaching. I know many parents who are fine with this, and many kids who like this teacher, but for many others it's an unacceptable situation.

Anonymous said...

To Also Wondering and Hopeful Parent
From the Advanced Learning Survey we will all know exactly how many families are happy at HIMS. I hope it will come out soon and they will share it with the community right away.
Until we can only argue if the problems are real we are talking about here.
IMO, looking at the sheer number of the negative posts about HIMS on this and on previous threads, it clearly indicates that there is a reason to worry for all the parents with student at HIMS.
In comparison no posts from WMS (or maybe one or two). So the situation could be super rosy there, but knowing the district policy, we can not move our students there (especially now since the open enrollment ended today).

Anonymous said...

I really don't care whether my child is a favorite or not - what I care about is that all kids are treated respectfully, regardless, and provided an adequate education. I'd like better than a 50/50 chance that this will occur.

CCM said...

I think the administration drives a lot of the happiness vs. unhappiness in a building.

Although the TM and WMS principles are not perfect, as we saw with the stress of the TM transition - they are both very strong leaders in their buildings and I do believe that they support the APP program.

Both principles really emphasize the buildings working as a whole, and for WMS in particular, I feel that some of the past complaints that I had heard really surrounded his feeling that the APP cohort was "driving the bus" at the school.

With the smaller cohort, many have mentioned that the school has a much more cohesive feel, as APP is just another program in the school at this point and the kids are mixing better.

Our kid is a current 8th grader and is very happy at WMS, and although I won't paint a totally "rosy" picture (we have had some less than stellar teachers) it seems to be balanced with an overall good experience.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, looking at the survey results I was not right: even from the Advanced Learning survey we wouldn't know how big is the problem in HIMS.
So I would like to ask anyone involved please let the Administration, Dr Vaughan, the Ed Director, the newly assigned Ombudsman, etc. know if you have any issues with the school. We can not let the same things happen year after year.
- Concerned

Anonymous said...

I learnt a new way of using my child's high MAP scores today: I received a letter from Dr. Vaughan inviting my child to "explore summer and other educational opportunities with the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth."

Just to let you know, Dr Vaughan is the Manager, Advanced Learnind at SPS.
I am wondering: is this part of his job? Will he and / or SPS receive money after my student enrolls to the program? He has nothing else to do?

Anonymous said...

Since this came from the APP Office, I will use the information for the community.

- Free information session about the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY): Wednesday, March 21 at 6 30pm at Hamilton. This meeting for studenst currently in 7th and 8th grade and their families.

- CTY Talent Search (a test): Saturday, April 7th at 8 00 am until 1 00pm.
Talent Search Application fee is 37 dollars and a test fee of 49 dollars for a total og 86 dollars. Students who are eligible for fee or reduced price lunch pay only 10 dollars total.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure of the message of the previous posts:
if you are not happy with the APP program in Hamilton, there is no problem, you could just sign up for the Johns Hopkins CTY online and or summer programs? (FYI one online course could be almost 900 dollars...).

Anonymous said...

Any updates on the Hunger Games field trip? Is it still happening?

hschinske said...

The Johns Hopkins Talent Search has been going on for many years, and is IMO not at all a bad thing for the AL office to be telling people about. Yes, the camps and online learning are expensive (though significant financial aid is available), but some of them are terrific opportunities. It's not just another high-priced scam. (And I'm really glad there are going to be some local sessions. A Seattle site is long overdue.)

It's also possible to sign up for the SAT on your own, which is cheaper, but might well not be as convenient as being able to take it at your own school.

Helen Schinske

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

I'm a reporter with The Seattle Times, writing an article about the debate around Hunger Games as an educational tool.

I'm hoping to talk to parents about this issue. If you are interested in talking with me, please contact me at or (206) 464-3195.

Thanks a lot.

Anonymous said...

FYI, HIMS Principal Carter cancelled the 6th grade Hunger Games field trip, citing parent concerns, and said an alternate activity is being planned.

zella917 said...

Good to hear that; it gives me a little more hope for next year. Of course we'll probably see The Hunger Games with our daughter anyway, but I'd rather it be with her parents than on a school field trip.

Anonymous said...

Dear Hamilton 6th grade families,

As you know, our 6th grade classes have been planning to attend a field trip on March 23rd to see the movie “The Hunger Games” based on the popular book series. We have received concern from families and it has become a distraction in our school community. Because of that, we have decided to cancel the field trip.

We know some of your students will be disappointed that they will not see the movie with their classmates, but we will plan another fun school event to help build school spirit and class unity.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Petyr Xyst said...

Oh really? This is very bad, sad news for my daughter.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for Mr. Carter for listening to the concerns and changing your original decision about the Hunger games movie. Anybody who is interested in 6th grade could go with his or her family and watch the movie with parental control (that is why it is a PG 13 movie, isn't it?)
I really appreciate this.
- Concerned

Anonymous said...

Schools debate educational value of 'The Hunger Games'

Anonymous said...

What's up with the John Marshall building? Is it being proposed for APP, despite past district reports that it is unsuitable for elementary? Will the upcoming PTA meeting shed some light on this?

Anonymous said...

I happened to be near John Marshall today and did a walk through. It reminds me of Lowell: high ceilings, nice wood, big windows. I didn't notice any highway noise in the hallways. Outside was comparable to TOPS and JSIS. Outside was mostly concrete (reminded me of Bagley-until they raised money and added turf) Has anyone from L@L or the advisory council done a walk through? I have to admit, I'm partial to the old buildings.

passing through

Anonymous said...

Just to add in-- my 6th grader at HIMS is having a WONDERFUL experience. COuld not be better. Amazing teachers-- and also likes Thurik. Personally I think there may be some problems at HIMS, but there may be equal problems with approach of many APP parents, who in my experience may be a little more helicoptery and prickly than situations necessitate... only my opinion. My kid is frankly really glad I stand back and don't talk about the teachers. A child whose parent is very involved in complaining about a particular teacher mentioned some aspects of this at lunch and my kid-- and other kids-- thought, why is your mom so involved in this? Why does your mom complain about so-and-so and set up meetings and email the teacher so often? And parents, if you do this, IMO it's a luittle enmenshed to discussit with your kid.

Just 2 cents-- take a breather, folks!

suep. said...

Ah yes, not approving of your 11-year-old child being given sexually explicit college-level material to read and discuss in social studies class is definitely something only APP parents would have a problem with.

Or a teacher who singles out and harasses a 6th-grade student and falsely accuses her of theft -- only APP parents aren't okay with that kind of behavior from teachers.

Or a teacher who basically doesn't teach much, and whose students don't bother to go to her for help because she isn't helpful -- but who is very eager for her students to take the MAP test for some reason. Surely it's just an APP parent thing to be dissatisfied with that situation.

Or a teacher who gives an erotic poetry writing assignment to her 6th grade (12-year-olds) language arts students -- yep, everyone else in the district is surely okay with that except those pesky APP parents.

Or a middle school where kids are shown the "Kony 2012" video without context or discussion or tie-in to any curriculum, and there are plans to take an entire grade of 11- and 12-year-olds to see a PG-13 movie about kids killing kids as a fun "bonding" experience -- just an APP thing, I guess, to not be okay with that.

Yep, we APP parents sure are picky about wanting our kids to be taught appropriate material in a safe, non-threatening environment where adults demonstrate sound judgment.

Guilty as charged.

Anonymous said...

There are also parents that have requested their students transfer to another classroom or have left altogether. Multiple parents. This is not a case of helicopter parents. You are fortunate your child hasn't been singled out for special treatment from the teacher.

Talking in front of other kids - yes, I'd avoid that - but supporting your student when the system isn't? - that's one of my jobs as a parent.

-guilty of wanting an education for my child

Anonymous said...

To suep:
I agree with you on every single point. And if this means I am a conservative parent who wants her kids to be in a safe, inspiring, socially appropriate and academically challenging environment in middle school, then I am guilty as charged also. And I also feel that unfortunately Hamilton can not provide these to my students. For the second year in a row.
-You are not alone

Anonymous said...

"...helicoptery and prickly," you say? I call it good, responsible parenting. Just because your child either isn't exposed to or doesn't seem to mind some of the problems experienced by others in the HIMS APP program, that doesn't mean all kids feel likewise. Sure, some kids are happy to just blow it off, wait it out, or whatever--and frankly, a lot of parents are happy to just sit back and not spend their precious time on the matter, too. Fine, to each his own. But if your child came to you and said s/he was miserable and wasting a year, would you still sit back and do nothing? You might, and that's your option. I, on the other hand, respect my child enough to know that s/he really needs the situation to change, so I advocate. And advocate, and advocate, and advocate, because that's what it takes. It's certainly not as easy as sitting back and "taking a breather" as you suggest, but our kids deserve parents willing to step in when there are challenges they cannot address on their own.

A final note: How interesting that you on one hand suggest these parents are too protective and controlling of their children's lives, while at the same time suggest that parents who do intervene on their children's behalf should do so without their child's knowledge. I wholeheartedly disagree with you on this one, and think complaints to the administration--when they are related to a child's classroom experience--should ONLY be made after consulting with the child and ensuring that they want parental assistance. The implication that these kids are old enough to cope with the problems on their own, but not yet responsible enough to be entrusted with information about efforts to correct the situation is nonsensical.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, Sue P. Parents who say everything is peachy at Hamilton are either not paying attention or ignoring the signals from staff and students (see the climate survey). They should be grateful for those who have the time, resources, and huevos to advocate for a better school.
Grateful parent

Anonymous said...

To suep:
Thank you so much for your time, effort, and energy for advocate for our children in HIMS. I feel that since Ms Shadow is not there any more we don't have any strong teacher advocate for our APP kids, so we, parents have to do more (than usual in middle school).
And if the parents who just sit back and do not give any support for their children are calling us on names (like helicopter parents), then shame on them. I would still rather do this now than wish later that I had been more involved in my child's experience in middle school. They are only 11-14 years old, to expect them to solve all their problems with their teachers and administrators are totally insane.

Anonymous said...

I also agree with Sue P. But is there any way to get at the root cause of these problems, instead of addressing each scenario one by one as the year goes on? IS there a root cause? Is it due to a couple bad teachers here and there that should be mentored, monitored more closely bu the principal, or possibly let go/transferred? Are these more of a cultural problem at HIMS, is it the responsibility and the power of the principal that can change it? In other words, what is the most effective way to advocate for permanent changes at HIMS that will benefit the school and kids in the short and long run - do we need to push to replace Carter? The blogs are an effective way, perhaps, to mobilize parents, but until we can determine an effective strategy for change, all we are doing is airing our concerns and prepping the incoming 6th gr parents to fear the worst. I am not criticizing, in fact I find it refreshing that others notice these issues as well, but having a hard time determining how widespread is the concern (does it extend beyond the APP parents, which are only about 25 - 30% of the school) and if there's any way to improve the problems.

Maureen said...

Reading through suep's list, it seems to me there have been repeated instances of teachers presenting material that is not age appropriate. I wonder if some of the teachers are having trouble teaching material that is two years ahead academically without using canned curricula that are created for High School students? Alternatively, maybe they think-well, they want to be taught like HSers so this is what they get. This is where having teachers trained in gifted ed could make a big difference. (And on the third hand, is it possible that they are actually required to teach material that is not age appropriate in order to have the kids get credit for the 'accelerated' class as defined by SPS?)

Anonymous said...

To Maureen and Sue P:
I think you both found the root of one huge problem in HIMS: since there is no SPS approved LASS middle school curriculum, the teachers have to come up on their owns. I talked to Ms Shadow (who I greatly miss almost every day - RIP) about this a lot last year and she said that she had a curriculum that she developed over the years and used for a long time at WMS. But for some reason nobody else used -s it in HIMS.
I don't know the reason and our possibilities with this knowledge. Any comment on this?
-You are not alone

Anonymous said...

"is it possible that they are actually required to teach material that is not age appropriate in order to have the kids get credit for the 'accelerated' class as defined by SPS?)"

If this were the case, then wouldn't we be hearing from WMS parents with the same concerns?

In theory, both schools should be teaching the same curriculum, maybe it is time to push for collaboration and alignment with WMS.