Tuesday, May 20, 2014

APP and the achievement gap

This from another thread seems controversial, worth highlighting, and worth discussing further. Excerpts:
What does seem apparent is SPS is hell-bent on closing the achievement gap by taking away opportunities for advanced learners.
...
There is an active effort to keep the top kids in line with the pack in gen ed. Shauna Heath's recently reported pronouncement that Spectrum is one year ahead, no more no less, and APP is two years ahead, no more, no less, is another chilling illustration of this practice. Michael Tolley's recent "realignment" of APP middle school LA/SS scope and sequence with gen ed is another one. I could go on and on, and the parents here could give many more examples of the way their kids were actively held down in gen ed, and even in AL, but the political climate in this district is indeed against too much academic achievement.
...
I don't think people would say they want kids to do poorly, but I do think they would say 1) high achiever's higher test scores are evidence that we are giving too many resources to them and should focus more on the bottom half (I disagree and think those high test scores are generally in spite of the district, who owes them much more in terms of learning opportunities. Not more resources, but the ability to move ahead if ready) and 2)it is more important that children be in the same place when they move to the next grade than that they learn something new. I find that statement actually odious, because I believe we should not treat children like completely fungible blocks, and should be able to meet children where they are, but there you go.
Please discuss further here.

Update: Charlie Mas started a related thread over on the Seattle Schools Community Blog, "Troubling Talk", in which he writes, "Most troubling were the number of people who think the solution is to discontinue honors classes ... Ending service for students working beyond grade level will not help students working below grade level."

36 comments :

Anonymous said...

If anyone attends tonight's AL Task Force meeting and is able to provide a recap, it would be appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Sad that no one from this blog has leaped onto this discussion thread. It reinforces the most unfortunate stereotypes of APP parents.

And to be clear, it's exactly why APP as it used to be is getting dismantled. The APP community as a whole did not care about the achievement gap. The SPS system as a whole sees it as probably its first concern. In this context the APP community is then a problem not a solution. Ergo, program delivery is changing and fast. (And the speed of change is accelerated by SPS building capacity problems.)

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I disagree 100% with you. Can you please provide proof of your claim that: "The APP community as a whole did not care about the achievement gap. The SPS system as a whole sees it as probably its first concern. In this context the APP community is then a problem not a solution." Correlation does not equal causation. During the many years the achievement gap has been an issue, it has also rained and snowed, and we have had several earthquakes. If only the achievement gap were so easily solved. If APP parents had "cared" more, would that have solved the achievement gap in the entire country, or just Seattle?

I know a lot of parents care about the achievement gap. Look at how much time people spend talking about it. What am I supposed to do about it? I don't control school spending, taxes (schools over more war, please), famous billionaires who know nothing about education messing things up, the Seattle public school leadership, dire poverty in the US, etc etc etc...

I notice you just complained, and didn't offer solutions to this on-going, frustrating and seemingly intractable problem. So, how are you going to solve the achievement gap? I look forward to it.

-c'mon

Anonymous said...

Anon 5/21 at 9:17, I'm not following your logic.

You seem to be saying that APP is being dismantled because of unfortunate stereotypes? I don't get that. Is that how SPS makes its decisions now?

You also say the APP community doesn't care about the achievement gap, but you don't have any evidence, and that certainly doesn't fit with what I've seen over the years. Please back it up. And you do realize that there really is no single "APP community" in the first place, right?

You said the APP community is a problem, not a solution. You realize the" APP community"--whatever that means--certainly includes STUDENTS, right? So these smart kids are the problem? Nice. What would you suggest we do with them?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to the achievement gap, but I fail to see how the "APP community" is one of them.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

@ C'mon; I used unfortunate wording above, and I am not trying to dis APP at all. I believe in self contained gifted education - maybe not exactly how it works right now, but for the biggest outliers on the education spectrum, yes.

Anyhow, my observation is that in the past few years the biggest outcry from our APP family was at first 'don't do something stupid to our program' - the APP split under Goodloe-Johnson followed by the Lowell-to_Lincoln debacle. Those changes were hamhanded and filled with broken promises (An APP curriculum? Riiiiiggggght.)

There was every good reason for the outcry. The district really did a number on our program. Indefensible.

But - somewhere along the way, and the outburst from some APP parents on not voting for the levy was a noticeable part of this - APP came to be identified by key district administrators and parts of the public already suspicious of gifted ed - as an obnoxious, privileged group. I am not saying it is that way. I'm saying it is perceived that way. This is not news. We discuss this endlessly here.

This perception coincides with a national and local focus on the achievement gap and equity in education. This is unfortunate for APP because in the struggle for scarce resources of money, mindshare, learning spaces, great educators...gifted education all over the US is at a disadvantage in being a priority. In Seattle, this situation is even more apparent than in other communities.

In looking back, I think the only way APP could have become a real powerhouse of effective advocacy over the past years would have been to own the achievement gap conversation from within its own parent group, eg; we recognize that we need to identify, educate and support more geographically and socio-economically diverse families...and here's how we might do that. But we were all too busy trying to keep our program from getting crushed for the sake of our own individual kids that now we've lost it anyhow.

The district decided to form the AL taskforces and will lead it to its own desired conclusion no doubt. The cause of equity and achievement gap, which are obviously very worthy causes, will lead that conclusion - not the cause of gifted ed. our failure as a parent community was not to take on early enough the cause of kids who weren't in our program to begin with. that is a very heavy lift in any parent community that is centered around a specific educational issue. how many PTAs work to support a different school population? But if we had done so, we would be in a better place now. And although we failed to do what so many other parent groups also fail to do, our community has been disproportionately impacted.

I am rewinding a tape that we can't actually re-edit. But I do wonder how we can move forward as a full community, now split at many sites, from this point. Or is it all over?

Anonymous said...

Anon,

I have been in APP through all the I things you mentioned - Lowell, the first split and the move to Lincoln. APP parents have been being blamed for the achievement gap for as long as I have been around the program. It's a ridiculous argument that takes the blame from where is should be - the district. As far as I know, I have no control over testing, outreach, or qualified families who choose not to come to the program. The district benefits from the misplaced blame so won't do anything to fix it.

Jean is just one parent. She is not shy about stating her opinion (I did not agree with it and voted for the levy). Jean's co leader was not APP. Why did she get away with it? Some people think APP is "elitist" and if it wasn't Jean it would be something else. This perception existed long before her oldest started in the program.

There is a problem with low income kids not getting the eduction they deserve. People are looking for the easy answer because the issue is so hard to solve. We could get rid of APP altogether and the achievement gap would still exist.

-c'mon

Anonymous said...

By definition, the achievement gap is the difference between the highest performing kids and the lowest performing kids. Why is the gap considered the fault of the highest performing kids? Is it a bad thing that they do well in school? They don't receive a disproportionate share of school district resources. Their performance should be celebrated, not punished.

Instead, shouldn't we be looking at the root causes of the low performance in the other groups? This isn't rocket science and it's been studied to death. Many (most?) of the root causes are beyond the control of the school system - poverty, single parent families, etc..

Demanding that schools eliminate the achievement gap without addressing the underlying social issues is unrealistic. I'd love to see any data that says otherwise.

Celebrate success

Greg Linden said...

I don't usually comment, but I posted an article on an open thread over on the Seattle Schools Community Forum a little while back, and it seems like it might be useful for this discussion: "Boosting school funding 20 percent erased the graduation gap between rich and poor students"

From the article: "A new working paper ... from Northwestern University and the University of California-Berkeley ... examining the effects of court orders that attempt to equalize funding for poor and wealthy school districts ... the gains from a 20 percent boost in funding at all levels of education were enough to entirely erase the gap between poor students and students from wealthier families ... High school graduation rates increased 23 percentage points for poor students ... poor students' family incomes were on average about 50 percent higher than they would have been ... students from wealthier families were unaffected."

Anonymous said...

Who exactly is blaming APP for the achievement gap?is it an APP parent, SPS parents in general, a teacher, a district official, board, city official? Also it'd be helpful to explain what does blame means. Is it looking at achievement gaps of ELL students, Spec ed, FRL students and/or other historical discriminated upon groups (including girls for math/science and boys for college) with APP or is it between general ed and APP? Is the gap being discussed related to something said on this blog or was this in the local news recently?

seeking clarification

Anonymous said...

I don't think anyone is truly blaming APP for the achievement gap. I think the argument being made is that in a fight for resources, a more diplomatic approach that addresses the gap and the educational-opportunity discrepancies—both real and perceived—might have been more effective. Can the APP community solve the problems that result from poverty, racism, single-parent households, etc....? Of course not. But focusing solely on our kids and largely ignoring the elephant in the room hasn't helped the public's or the district's perception of our program—and policy decisions are being made based on that perception.
--Now what?

Anonymous said...

No one is blaming APP for the achievement gap. What I am saying is that the district is focused on the achievement gap. The attention and resources are there, not gifted ed. Further, the APP program as it stands today does not have a population that mirrors the district population as a whole. It skews geographically north. it skews non-FRL. It skews caucasian. If our program better mirrored the district enrollment demographics, I bet we'd have been left alone. But we don't. If we had been leading the way on solutions, maybe we would have been left alone. But we didn't, because of the district's incompetence. Yes, this should have been the responsibility of the staff, but we could see it wasn't going to happen. We - ok I - was very worn out. Now with this new administration we are certain to see the biggest changes yet to AL. Yes, there is a state law around gifted services, but effort will be achievement gap first. And as I said before, identification of minority demographics for AL is certain to be more important in SPS's eyes than for instance better AL teachers or curriculum.

Anonymous said...

So the implication, then, is that as long as the achievement gap exists, it's somehow "unfair" for APP parents to push for a curriculum or a working program?

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

Universal screening is your solution. Next year in K and perhaps 2 -5-8 we will see just that. Screen for what you ask? FLR status, number of parents in house or perhaps academic achievement? Nope, (the becoming better) equalizer that will help requires limited language skills and test IQ. level no; fair no; closer yes. The problem will persist until all families have the support of the Rainier Scholars.

Teach my high IQ kids please

Anonymous said...

As a parent that volunteers many hours in my children's school, working in non-APP classrooms, plus donating money that benefits all students, I greatly resent the implication that APP parents are somehow not concerned about other students.

The implication that APP parents as a group are somehow expected to solve problems that extend beyond the classroom is pretty outlandish. Parents do what they can. Doing away with APP will not eliminate the problems that lead to the achievement gap.

Having AL programs does not prevent the district from serving those working below grade level.

Anon said, And as I said before, identification of minority demographics for AL is certain to be more important in SPS's eyes than for instance better AL teachers or curriculum.

So once more students are identified for AL services, should we not care what services they actually receive? Is it the identification that's the only thing that's important? No. There actually needs to be a curriculum and teachers that are capable of serving those students. Otherwise, what's the point?

sheesh

Anonymous said...

HIMS Mom, Sheesh etc:
You are not getting the point of some other posters. No one is blaming the achievement gap on APP. What you fail to understand is that to SPS administration, APP is the least of its district worries. In addition, a bunch of staff members really dislike a group of APP parents. Parents. Not kids.
It doesn't feel fair.
It isn't fair.
It's also the way it is.
It's probably the way it is going to be for quite awhile.

The issues of the achievement gap really is the top priority for this and most urban districts. Money woes and space are our district's second worry. APP? Way down the list.

Money and mindshare go to the achievement gap not just here but as a priority in far more urban districts than AL ever will in our kids' academic careers.

Winge away. But it won't solve anything for our kids.

My tactic and it isn't fair either: Take on the 'more' for my student at home. Also find resources outside of SPS. There isn't a strong offering right now in SPS. There isn't. And we aren't going to fix it when we can't acknowledge (then work around, through, over, under) the fact that other priorities are more important to SPS.

I advocate for the AL cause when I find ears within SPS who are willing to think about it.

I also don't fight for causes like self-contained Spectrum. Not a winning argument. I don't fight for better AL teachers. I fight for better teachers for all. I don't argue about whether the top 10, 5, 2, or 1 percent "deserve" APP. I fight for expanding the identification process via cognitive identification, not achievement. Equity is an issue within APP and it is undermining what little is left of the original program. If we can get better AL identification of a diverse group of Seattle students, we can win more hearts and minds. Then we can work on better teachers and teaching methods just for the gifted. My kids will be long gone when we reach that point.

Getting Real

Anonymous said...

@getting real
I like to believe that the "more" I give my kids at home filters back to the classroom., to the teacher and through them to the other teachers. Especially in middle and high school, students provide ideas and comments in class that can open up a teacher to push the whole class harder.so, I try to expand on what they are learning, not go with new and different stuff. Just provide more depth and context and if it gets brought up in class, good for everybody.
LL

Anonymous said...

A fascinating article about bias selection in teachers, but can be extend beyond to all of us.

http://www.gifted.uconn.edu/siegle/publications/CAGTeacherBias.pdf

It would be better for APP to make friends.
-Advocate for all of AL.
-Advocate for better curriculum not just for APP, but general ed too, as in when people came together for math text selection.
-Educate yourselves about WSS & how school budget is determine and the things that affect budget year to year.
-When looking at school and space crunch, consider the words use about the other program.
-Consider how alienating and harmful words can be with anonymous criticisms against particular teacher (individual teacher have obligation to meet the needs of many), building staff, AL staff, and board members.

It's as if we need a primer on how to make friends. The susceptibility to fall into the pathos of blaming and feeling besieged is great here and on SSS blog. It might be healthy to ask how true that APP is a target or suffers more from neglect or from being used willy nilly for capacity planning, test data manipulation, etc. than other programs, services, or even the general ed population? Is the district really scapegoating this program or is the policy more reflective of SPS historical dysfunction and 40 years of churn? (When I look at the wasteful, silo management style of City Hall/politics,SPS is the embodied canary.)

Just because you can't read about the problems on an accessible blog doesn't mean other programs, particular student population, and services aren't being toss about. Or for that matter, some things are improving and working.

It's human nature to focus on the negatives. The article above discussed this and how it can affect judgement and cloud perception. By all means, people should make a case, but it will be far more effective to do so with pragmatic consideration of the rest of the district (the 90%).

Anonymous said...

Also another article by 2 professors on where they thought gifted ed was heading (this published in 2006).

http://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/resources/displayArticle/?id=104

Pretty spot on.

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty involved at this point, and spend time talking to board members and staff as a member of another school community. It is true that app is a scapegoat, and if app and another program are at cross purposes, they'd rather pick the other program's desires. It's a lightning rod for any number of people's larger educational agenda. No other program has the same number of vocal proponents for its demise, always ready to take up anybody else's cause who might cause that to happen. No other program has its individual members held to such high standards, though plenty of them say things that would set your hair on fire. At every program, even and especially the politically popular ones. I am friends with some people at one of the popular k-8's, and hearing what incredibly self absorbed, dismissive of all children not in their specific school, they say at meetings(far, far worse than I have ever heard an app parent at one of these things, even long before I had a child in the program), and then hearing them turn around and tell me "what app needs to do," (never advocate for our program again, publicly insult some individual parents to please a board member), it is irritating. A little.

I think that is just the way it is, and no amount of perfect behavior or "making friends" will ever change that. I do think some things are working. I am happy with the year to year in building experience for my kids, even after the move to Lincoln. I wouldn't move my kid to one of those popular programs, because this is way better for them, even if the district gives me heartburn.

I focus my energy on class size, because I think that would help us all. The stuff above other people are working on also seems great, if that is what they feel pulled to work on. But I think when the program has problems- the district wants to split, tries to weaken the LA curriculum, it's more useful to realize that we just are a resented minority because of outside politics having nothing to do with our kids or even our parents, not that we have not "behaved well" and thus are just reaping what we sow. There's no behaving well. We are not going to be liked, ever. We might not need to be, but spending energy on getting liked it definitely futile. And this stuff makes me tired, so I am conserving my energy.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

@ getting real,

Oh, I definitely get that AL is not a priority for SPS, believe me. And yes, I also get that the achievement gap is also a major priority, rightly so. What I refuse to accept, however, is the idea that it's ok for the district to not be serving all groups of students well.

Your solution is a non-solution: take care of your own. I understand that impulse--in fact, responsibility--and have spent more time and money on home-based learning than seems reasonable (or equitable, as I know many others can't do this!).

There are a lot of things you think we should or shouldn't push for, and those are up for debate. I'm sure you'll find folks on each side. Like you, I have not been pushing for self-contained Spectrum, nor better AL teachers (although unlike you, I don't know what exactly I would do to join you in this fight for better teachers for all, as I haven't heard of such efforts). I also don't talk about who "deserves" APP, but rather who needs it--because some kids REALLY do. I fully support efforts to increase diversity in the identification process.

At the same time, however, I think it's kind of silly to spend a lot of time worrying about who all has access, when, where, etc. without also worrying about WHAT exactly they have access to. If one of the negative attitudes about APP is that it's elitist or segregationist, it doesn't help matters if the program--and its benefits--are unclear. It's like saying "Well I don't know what the academic program is, but I want my kids with those kids and not the others." I know that's not how APP families really feel--they are looking for an environment in which their kid can actually learn something, can fit in socially, etc.--but in the absence of real curriculum the focus becomes the cohort, and a lot of finger crossing. The absence of an APP evaluation showing the program actually works is further evidence of that finger crossing.

I, for one, want to know that the program makes sense. These kids need something else, and I want to see that what the district provides is generally consistent with those needs. I think it's a lot harder to justify a separate program--even if enrollment eventually mimics district demographics--when it's primarily about the "type" of kid and not so much about the "service" they need. I know that's not the intent of APP, but in the absence of clarity as to WHAT it really is now--specifically, how it addresses the needs of participating students--I think that is largely what opens us up to criticisms and negative stereotypes. A clear program that clearly addresses a need is a lot harder to argue with than something that focuses more on just "getting in."

And by the way, it's not whining to speak out for what you believe in, especially if you're trying to do something about it. That was uncalled for.

HIMSmom

Anonymous said...

How many AL - Spectrum and APP - parents have actively worked - vs. expounding on blogs - to change the program to bring in more minorities, more FRL families, or more special education students? Yes there are a couple on the current and past district committees. Overall? Bet I can count them on hands/toes, total.

This goes to the point of the subject of this thread. If the community does not understand this underlying source of administrative concern and community resentment and does not do something about it, then -- actually the 'then' is happening right this second. The program is changing with or without the larger community's buy in.

I applaud Advanced Learning. I reject both Spectrum and APP in its current community makeup and delivery methods. A lot of Seattleites feel the same.

Anonymous said...

Definitely more than have worked at any other program to increase diversity at their program. Many times more.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

ANON 12:56 - why won't people pick names?

What does the district do for the achievement gap? I see them opining on it at every opportunity, but what are they doing about it? They have pulled all sorts of supports from the schools, and we have the worst math curriculum for ESL kids and those who are already behind. What are we doing to support those kids who are behind in third grade and unlikely to catch up without major intervention?

I am an APP parent and I adamantly refuse to take the blame for the achievement gap. Do I care about it? Yes. I will happily pay more in taxes if that money goes to counselors, tutors, etc for needy schools? Yes.

I can't fix the achievement gap. That is the district's job. I don't even understand how this is a conversation. It is ridiculous. APP parents can talk about it all day for 100 years and no change will come to the achievement gap. Dramatic changes need to be made in schools and classrooms before any change will come. Is there some mistaken belief out there that the district actually even listens to APP parents, or any parents for that matter?

-c'mon

Anonymous said...

@ C'mon take a deep breath and understand your prejudices are showing.

Anon @ 12:56 said nothing about the achievement gap. Minorities. FRL. SPED. Cognitively capable students from all these populations belong in the advanced learning community. Capable kids! Highly Capable kids! And their families!

The fact that you immediately jump to the Achievement Gap with those populations is exactly the problem with a too-large part of the advanced learning vibe in Seattle.

I can take on the "I can't fix the achievement gap" in a separate post, just as soon as I stop smacking my forehead over the issue on this one.

Equity

Anonymous said...

Equity,

The points I made are the same for the achievement gap or who is in the program - both issues come down to who is in charge and what decisions they make. You'll note the title of this thread is "APP and the achievement gap." APP families are not in charge of anything in the district. Why are people so interested in giving the district a scapegoat?

I ask again, why does anyone think the district listens to any family, APP or not? If only any parent group had such power in this district.

-c'mon

Anonymous said...

OSPI has yearly reports on "HCP student enrollment by categorical," for each school district.

https://www.k12.wa.us/HighlyCapable/reports.aspx

The issues you are discussing are not limited to SPS. I find it odd to demonize parents over something out of their control and not under their authority.

Anonymous said...

What do you want APP parents to do - go knock on doors in south Seattle every December and drag the kids out for cognitive testing? This is nothing to do with APP parents - we all see the need for diversity and identifying capable kids from underrepresented groups but we are not the ones responsible for doing that. The fact that their are fewer APP qualified kids in some parts of town/socioecomic groups and the fact that some of the APP-capable kids in these groups might be missed come down to wider societal factors that APP parents and the school district have not control over. The district does, in fact, actively try to identify and recruit kids from the underrepresented groups, and it is their job to do so. We are not responsible for the barriers to entry that some kids face, and nor can we alleviate them - the district has the means to figure out what potentially- remediable barriers there are and address those. What exactly would you have me as an APP parent do? Plenty of us have been on committees and task forces and it counts for nothing as far as the district actually implementing anything- so don't suggest that.

Anonymous said...

Randomly looking at numbers for Highline, 2010-2011 (enrollment 18,372, with 70% FRL):

Number HCP students
white - 270
black - 14
Asian Pacific Islander - 72
Hispanic - 17
American Indian - 1
Multiracial - 18
FRL - 96
504plan - 9
SpecEd - 6

Anonymous said...

There's that overstatement again that does not come off well in the general public and when trying to work with SPS administration. "Scapegoat" from @C'mon. "Demonize" from @Anon 3:23. Please. The hyperbole does nothing for the cause.

As for this statement: "We are not responsible for the barriers to entry that some kids face, and nor can we alleviate them" - it's another headsmacker in my book. Does the writer have any idea whatsoever how elitist that sounds? Again, APP so often comes off as its own enemy within the greater SPS system.

I can picture a perfectly nice white school community sympathetically chatting about "those other kids" wanting access to schools pre-Civil Rights: 'We are not responsible for the barriers to entry that some kids face, and nor can we alleviate them.'

Back then, some everyday people turned that around. They said, "We ARE responsible for the barriers to entry and WE CAN alleviate them." And eureka, change happened.

If the APP community spent a miniscule amount of time with this mindset, AL would be more likely to be thriving today. A city-wide, multi-demographical insistence on solid AL would get us way farther than the SNAPP efforts have. Way farther.

With that mindset, along the way there might be a chance to impact the achievement gap, too. Because we'd be partnering in new communities, offering new resources. Like money (did anyone read Greg's link). And volunteer resources. And knowledge.

Equity

Anonymous said...

I just don't get it and no I don't think it's elitist to acknowledge there are barriers in education and I can't change them at a local program level.
I also want gun control but I can see there are tremendous barriers to that, that I cannot as an individual do anything about other than voting, and supporting organizations that are advance the social or political causes I agree with. I'm a democrat, I vote on the right side of the sorts of legislation that will help lower and middle classes/immigrants/minorities etc.
What more can I do about education, about APP underrepresentation? What are you doing about it? I am not a community activist or a politician. SNAPP has got nothing to do with it. It is a school PTA not a political organization. What do you expect of PTAs at other predominantly white, well off schools in Seattle - should they be addressing hunger or poverty or lack of healthcare also?
"A city-wide, multi-demographical insistence on solid AL" is what we are supposed to have currently according to the district. If you have a problem, take it up with the district - don't come on here telling us were all elitist.
And another thing, not all APP families are well off - in fact most are probably pretty much in the middle. Just because you don't qualify for FRL doesn't mean you're rich by any stretch. Don't you think we'd rather go private, and get out of the whole clusterf**k that is SPS if we really were that well off or elitist?

A Realist not an Elitist

Anonymous said...

Equity,

Why is this the problem you are all fired up about? Only 55% of low income 8th graders are passing the Math MSP and only 60% pass the reading MSP. That's something your time and energy could be well spent on. (I assume you're happy to get advice on that.)

Anonymous said...

First, this: What do you expect of PTAs at other predominantly white, well off schools in Seattle - should they be addressing hunger or poverty or lack of healthcare also?

Yes, absolutely they should be addressing these issues, which are barriers to children learning. And in fact, many do. So should AL-focused PTAs. In fact, some of them do too.

Second, I did not talk about rich APP families. I talked about 1) elitism, 2) a Caucasian viewpoint that seems to think the achievement gap is "other peoples' problem" (despite the fact that a growing underclass will take down ALL of our kids' futures in the U.S., not just "their" futures, and 3) this idea that "what can I as an individual do? I can't..." (When in fact, a great number of individuals in this district have made a great deal of impact on moving toward solutions for some entrenched SPS problems.)

I am not posting to be combative. I am posting to help our community see how it is not in synch with much of the mindset of both SPS administration and the majority of SPS parents. We desperately need more involvement and more acknowledgement at the parental level of AL of the societal educational issues OUTSIDE AL in order to get more resources WITHIN AL.

And we need to do this despite the fact that SPS has kicked the AL programs in the teeth again and again and again. This is tough, exhausting, longterm work. Work that may not pay off for our own families. But gosh, those of us who understand how necessary AL is help our own students are the only ones who can keep the flame lit.

It is fine to acknowledge that bringing diversity to AL, or addressing the achievement gap outside AL, is not a top priority. Maybe it's nowhere on the radar for your personally. But please consider putting it on the radar for a self-serving reason. (And I think it's OK to admit it's self-serving.) Without getting more cross-Seattle, cross-community interaction with our program, AL is going, going, gone. It will be the bare minimum to meet state law, and nothing else.

Equity

P.S. I am using Equity on purpose. I want equity for OUR AL PROGRAM. But we won't get it without being champions for the rest of SPS students too.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I'll bite. Responses to @ Equity in CAPS for clarity -no i'm not shouting ; )

…….first What do you expect of PTAs at other predominantly white, well off schools in Seattle - should they be addressing hunger or poverty or lack of healthcare also? Yes, absolutely they should be addressing these issues, which are barriers to children learning. And in fact, many do. So should AL-focused PTAs. In fact, some of them do too. WHAT PTA'S ARE CURRENTLY DOING ANYTHING ON A DISTRICT WIDE SCALE TO ADDRESS BARRIERS TO EDUCATION, POVERTY, HUNGER, OR LACK OF HEALTHCARE. I REALISE MANY PTAS SUBSIDIZE VARIOUS THINGS AND PERFORM OUTREACH WITHIN THEIR OWN SCHOOLS. WHICH ONES ARE GOING BEYOND THAT AND HOW?

Second, I did not talk about rich APP families. I talked about 1) elitism, 2) a Caucasian viewpoint that seems to think the achievement gap is "other peoples' problem" (despite the fact that a growing underclass will take down ALL of our kids' futures in the U.S., not just "their" futures, and 3) this idea that "what can I as an individual do? I can't..." (When in fact, a great number of individuals in this district have made a great deal of impact on moving toward solutions for some entrenched SPS problems.) FULLY AWARE THAT IT IS ALL OF OUR PROBLEMS AND IN ALL OF OUR INTERESTS TO FIX INEQUALITY. IT WILL TAKE SOMETHING BIGGER THAN ANYTHING SPS PARENTS CAN THROW AT IT - READ PIKETTY'S BOOK.
SO WHAT ARE THESE PROBLEMS SOLVED, BY WHAT INDIVIDUALS? FROM WHAT I SEE, IT SEEMS THE DISTRICT PAYS ONLY LIP SERVICE TO COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND HARDLY EVER IMPLEMENTS PROPOSALS OR RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE COMMUNITY OR INDIVIDUALS.

I am not posting to be combative. I am posting to help our community see how it is not in synch with much of the mindset of both SPS administration and the majority of SPS parents. We desperately need more involvement and more acknowledgement at the parental level of AL of the societal educational issues OUTSIDE AL in order to get more resources WITHIN AL. I THINK YOU WILL FIND AGAIN AND AGAIN THAT APP FAMILIES ACKNOWLEDGE AND DECRY THESE SOCIETAL PROBLEMS. THAT IS THE POINT - THEY ARE ENTRENCHED SOCIETAL ISSUES, IN ALL COUNTRIES NOT JUST THE US, NOT SOMETHING THAT A BIT OF LOBBYING OR COMMUNITY SERVICE BY A GROUP OF PARENTS CAN FIX. WE DONT HAVE OUR HEADS IN THE SAND BUT YOU NEED A DOSE OF REALITY IF YOU THINK THAT ANY APP PARENTS CAN GET MORE DISTRICT RESOURCES GOING ANYWHERE!

And we need to do this despite the fact that SPS has kicked the AL programs in the teeth again and again and again. This is tough, exhausting, longterm work. Work that may not pay off for our own families. But gosh, those of us who understand how necessary AL is help our own students are the only ones who can keep the flame lit. I JUST REALLY DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. WHAT WORK. WHO IS DOING IT. ITS CERTAINLY NOT PUBLICIZED TO THE APP COMMUNITY AT LARGE. IF THERE WAS SOME 'WORK' BEING DONE, I'M SURE A LOT OF FOLKS WOULD GET BEHIND IT IF THEY KNEW ABOUT IT.

It is fine to acknowledge that bringing diversity to AL, or addressing the achievement gap outside AL, is not a top priority. Maybe it's nowhere on the radar for your personally. BUT IT IS A PRIORITY, AND WE HAVE ACKNOWLEDGED IT AGAIN AND AGAIN. IT IS ALSO A DISTRICT PRIORITY - I'M NOT SURE WHY IT IS UNSUCCESSFUL..But please consider putting it on the radar for a self-serving reason. (And I think it's OK to admit it's self-serving.) Without getting more cross-Seattle, cross-community interaction with our program, AL is going, going, gone. It will be the bare minimum to meet state law, and nothing else. I DON;T REALLY KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN. ITS ALL VERY- RAINBOWS, AND UNICORNS, AND WORLD PEACE. WHAT GOALS AND WHAT TANGIBLE, PRACTICAL, IMPLEMENTABLE SOLUTIONS DO YOU THINK WE NEED TO GAIN MORE CROSS SEATTLE, CROSS COMMUNITY INTERACTION (RETURN TO BUSSING MAYBE

REALIST

Anonymous said...

Equity, Realist, Getting Real, anon@11:44 5/21, anon@9:06 5/22: Thank you so much for posting. You are clear-eyed, coherent, and so brave to do so on this blog.
I read this blog because my children are in APP and I want to keep in the loop. But it is extremely depressing. Constant complaints; lots of trashing teachers and staff by name while remaining anonymous; major persecution complexes. People who complain about our children having to play on concrete like it is the worst suffering EVER! When there are schools in SPS with falling ceiling tiles, peeling paints, windows that won't open, nonpotable water and bad sewers. And the constant grudge about the program being split up, I do not get that at all. Yes, the first split of Lowell was probably a mistake, but after that the program grew so big that there is NO building that ALL kids in APP now could fit in, so why still bring that up? There is no elementary building that could fit 5, 6 classes per grade. So all the " look how the district is victimizing APP" is totally bizarre. Then there is also the why don't we move Indian Heritage to Discovery Park instead of having them take up OUR space at WP! FYI, Licton Springs is sacred site for Native Americans, Indian Heritage (now joined with Pinehurst) has a true legitimate claim to be at WP. Saying they should just be moved wherever to make sure APP has enough space and an auditorium is extremely disturbing and distasteful. It's brings us back to that terrible time when our government force-marched Native Americans from their land whenever valuable resources were found on reservations. Those of you who have been complaining about SS classes at HIMS, surely you have heard of the Trail of Tears? No?
I wonder if we would still be under Jim Crow laws if Marlon Brando, Paul Newman and the Freedom Riders had said "so it's not just, but it's (someone else's) responsibility; why should we do anything about it?"
What a lesson to teach our children.

What happened to us?

Anonymous said...

It brings...
hate autocorrect
And yes, it might seem sensational to reference the Trail of Tears, but: slippery slopes; today we justify small things to get what we want, tomorrow we justify bigger things.

What happened to us?

Anonymous said...

@ what happened,

Wow, that's a lot of feeling. I'm not going to get into it too much, but just wanted to remind you that there isn't really an APP "community", the "us" of which you speak. There are families with kids in APP, families across a number of schools (including non-APP schools). On pretty much any issue, there may be valid reasons it's a big concern for a few people--but just because a few people mention it here does not mean it's a big issue for many or most. But people are free to express small concerns along the way--there may be a criticdl mass if others our there who feel likewise, and perhaps they can come together for a little win. If we can ONLY talk about issues that rise to "worst ever" status, we might as well give up now. There's always someone else worse off.

And yes, the Trail of Tears reference did seem sensational in the context presented. What on earth does dissatisfaction with the HIMS SS curriculum and changes in the High school SS pathway have to do with the forced relocation of Native American nations? I think you're intentionally conflating unrelated issues to make a point. And many of those speaking out on the SS issue favor teaching more US history, which would include the Trail of Tears.

HIMSmom