Tuesday, May 3, 2016

5/3 HCS AC meeting (Thurgood Marshall, Race and Equity)

Thurgood Marshall / Social Studies

Most of the meeting revolved around a discussion of minority representation in the program. The staff rep from Thurgood Marshall volunteered to extemporaneously talk about what's going on in the building and in addition a parent who participated in the Race and Equity Committee came and added some thoughts. There have been a series of race and equity conversations that have been ongoing since last year among the TM community.  First, kids in the 4th/5th grade student council complained about being labeled. In addition, during what was described as an uncomfortable meeting, parents from the building also expressed dissatisfaction that HCC was elitist/racist. Side Note: if you were following the recent  Blanford/Peters exchange see: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2016/04/highly-capable-work-session.html#more this is very relevant.  So the Race and Equity Committee was formed to explore how to better integrate the student body and also to explore the HCC qualification process.   Apparently, PCP's i.e. gym/arts/music were too logistically complicated to joint schedule and so the proposal moved to Social Studies which has a non-differentiated curriculum i.e. the 4th graders study the same material in gen-ed and HCC classes.  There are still several practical issues here. Social Studies becomes much more academic in nature in 4th-5th grade moving from exploring the local community  to WA state history. The HCC kids outnumber the gen-ed ones in the building 3:1 and Social Studies is the most short-changed of all the core subjects in terms of actual time devoted to it.  Interestingly, already the 5th graders are doing a UW Philosophy department led class in a blended environment.  The teacher mentioned that the principal was very committed to making a blended class happen so he thought this was likely to occur.

At this point, Janine Madaffari the AL representative present pointed out that the policy governing HCC 2190SP explicitly states that all the core academic subjects including Social Studies will be self-contained. I'm not sure on review if I can find this particular language. The closest I see is the "service model is self-contained in Grades 1-5"

Then the parent who was active on the committee by coincidence arrived and spoke a bit. She reiterated the harsh impression of the program from the other members of the building. They apparently are very interested in out reach to minority communities to increase participation in HCC. She explicitly mentioned trying to get parents to the kindergarten orientations at individual schools to give out information and trying to have members of minority communities reaching out to prospective families who have been identified to encourage them to opt in. Most of the speakers present were sympathetic to these goals. There are various restrictions on who can talk to parents and under what conditions. But I see this as the least controversial element of the evening.  One interesting statistics mentioned by the staff. Apparently: White/Asian and all other minorities are all admitted at almost the same rates in the initial process ~8% but the appeals process which has an over 50% success rate skews the numbers towards the White/Asian students. It was fairly easy to infer this is driving part of their push to limit them.

Editorial Note: I'm still reserving judgement on whether this affects the integrity of the curriculum or not until I find out more. This along with whether a heterogeneous environment would serve all students well forms the crux of the issue for me. The program's weakness in terms of defining a distinct curriculum particularly in the humanities sadly make these discussions harder to have. 

IB Programs

There was also a discussion of the future of the IB program at Ingraham. The recent grant to Rainier Beach (Seattle Times Story) to help out their IB program does not provide a systemic funding solution for the program as a whole.  The Ingraham staff rep pointed out all the surrounding districts directly fund their programs and don't rely on parents to raise several hundred thousand dollars or short change the whole school several staff-positions to run the program. 

There was some confusion why enrollment was being capped this year even among the staff present. So at this point two issues are still outstanding:
  1. If a spot Ingraham is not guaranteed there is no clarity on the default pathway if you don't get a spot. AL feels this is governed by enrollment. There needs to be clarity here before the next open enrollment.
  2. Secondly, We don't have any insight into what is driving enrollment caps.
I believe both functions fall under the heading of the Operations Committee. If you're interested in advocacy this along with the sorry state of the funding would be something to lobby the school board members to improve.


I did a little bit of personal lobbying to see if the HCS advisory committee would send a letter advocating for a minimum cohort size if any splits occur. The response was that a previous task force had already made recommendations. I'm hoping that the committee will still send a letter referencing the previous recommendations during this current decision making process. If you agree you might also talk to your building representative on the committee and make the same request.


Anonymous said...

So. let's see. From just this one meeting we see:

Thurgood Marshall moving partially away from a self-contained model despite the fact that policy (and our highly capable application to the state) say services are provided via a self-contained model;

acknowledgement that the SS curriculum for HCC isn't any different;

more accusations of racism and elitism;

lack of adequate SPS funding for IB/IBX, despite the fact that it's an official service option for HC students;

confusion and misinformation (on the district's part) about access to Ingraham's IB/IBX program;

overcrowding at Cascadia and the inability of the new school site to accommodate everyone, even though most people knew this was going to be an issue a while ago but the district didn't plan for it;

concerns that the district is now planning to send an insufficiently sized HCC elementary cohort to a new, undisclosed location; and

a willingness to deny access to HCC by kids who qualify via private testing rather than the school district testing, even though they may very well need the services, even though there's not evidence that they do any worse in the program when admitted, even though they may need the private testing due to learning disabilities (diagnosed or not yet diagnosed), and even though a limited appeals option would be implemented purely for the sake of excluding qualifying kids based on race.

Did I miss anything?

And people wonder why HCC parents often complain about the lack of support they see for the program--or for academically gifted kids in general???


Anonymous said...

The principal at Washington disbanded their Spectrum classrooms this year. She's going to be thrilled to see this plan at TM. Now she can blend all students in social studies classes beginning in sixth grade!

The policy requires self-contained elementary classrooms for a reason. If the district's placement of the program in the Thurgood Marshall building is creating problems, they need to correct that error. Program changes against district policy are not the answer.

Anonymous said...

Obviously the answer to the integration problem is to self contain in a separate building, like Cascadia. Solved!

Anonymous said...

There's not an obvious empty building to move the south end elementary program to. Moreover doing so would only postpone the same conversations which will recur in middle school and high school.

- No easy answers

Anonymous said...

What are the concerns in high school? There are no self-contained classes in high school. Students choose classes based on their interests and desire for acceleration.

In middle school students are assigned to blended elective and PE classes.

Self-contained classrooms are provided for academic reasons and academics are the reason our children are in school. Maybe Thurgood Marshall should encourage children to enroll in after school or before school enrichment classes together. If blending classes is a priority to the TM principal, she should prioritize blending the programs for PE, art and music. She can make that happen and is using scheduling as an excuse to break up the self-contained academic program.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln high school planning documents (meeting minutes and preliminary schematics) are posted on the Seattle Schools blog in the Tuesday Open Thread. Please read if it could be your child's school, or if you are part of HIMS or the future RESMS. They are planning on downsizing the theater and from what I can tell, they are creating it with a STEM/Robotics/outdoor focus. They are also carving out a space for a teen health center.

Anonymous said...

RESMS is expected to use either Ingraham's or Lincoln's auditorium/theater space, as RESMS is being built without. If Lincoln's performance space is to be shared by several North end schools - HIMS, RESMS, and former Ballard/Roosevelt students sent to Lincoln - and they have a robust music programs, where is the advocacy for an appropriate auditorium space?

Anonymous said...

Thurgood Marshall is not "moving partially away from a self-contained model." Rather, it is seeking to create equity in education, for the benefit of all students at the school. This is not at odds with HCC's goals. The social studies blended classrooms will provide all students with significant new social and emotional learning opportunities. The significant increase in classroom diversity will contribute to a more complex, deeper approach to the curriculum for *all* TM students. Remember, also, that this is elementary school, where social studies is not even a full-year curriculum.
-TM parent

Old School said...

Again a solution to cascadia's capacity is to have QA/Magnolia, Montlake and Cap Hill (perhaps Laurelhurst) go back to Lowell. These are all kids that are getting in buses anyhow and it would take off a good chunk of the kids and Lowell has the room.

Anonymous said...

@ TM parent - Everyone can characterize the reasons for the change but it clearly is a partial move away from a self contained model by definition. Before you had self contained SS, now you don't.

Having come from a diverse elementary myself and also having had my child experience one here in Seattle I have to admit I have yet to see any concrete evidence of "complex deeper approaches." At best I would expect an equivalent class to what occurs in other schools. That's usually the goal of integration.

Anonymous said...

What Apparent said.
- Apparent Fan

Maureen said...

creating it [Lincoln High] with a STEM/Robotics/outdoor focus

Why do they bother with this sort of thing? Lincoln will be a neighborhood school. It should just be designed as a solid well rounded High School. Why should resources be put into a focus for a school that every neighborhood kid will have to attend, regardless as to whether they benefit from that focus or not? And that no kid from outside the neighborhood will be able to attend, regardless of how interested they are in Robotics. It's just a waste. (Ballard has BioTech etc. because they had to draw in kids back before the Assignment Plan changed. Ingraham has IB, but that is a curriculum--not a "focus," and in any event, given the way the boundaries are drawn, they do have to draw in kids from outside the neighborhood to fill.)

If Lincoln has any focus at all it should be on Spanish and Japanese since, presumably, almost all of the immersion kids could roll up through there.

Who even thinks of these things?

Anonymous said...

Anyone see the article in the paper this morning on black-white student achievement gaps in Seattle. We made the Top 5 for biggest national gaps. There is discussion on saveseattleschools blog about the article, with some already wondering what this means for HCC. It's hard to believe our district won't do 'something' with such bad press. Whether or not it impacts the HCC community will be interesting and something for some of us to follow I think. Better ideas from within than from without?


Maureen said...

Here's a link to the article Concerned referenced.

Note that the AVERAGE white child is performing at two years above grade level.

I would like to see these numbers broken down by race and poverty status. It's difficult to see how much of the gap is due to poverty in this presentation (I'm not denying the existence a racial gap as well). Note that the Times piece says The study does not include Asian American students because reliable estimates were not available. I would not be surprised if this is due to the variation in poverty rates amongst different Asian ethnic groups.

Lynn said...

Here's a link to a 2014 article by the same author: As Seattle gets richer, the city's black households get poorer.

Anonymous said...

More specifically, "as more whites are moving to the city, more blacks are moving to the suburbs...." In Renton, "the black population has doubled since 2000."

Anonymous said...

I also would like to see the numbers broken down by race and poverty status as well.
multiple studies demonstrate that socioeconomic status correlates with performance level across all ethnic groups & races. Low income whites perform lower in comparison to middle & upper class kids. However, Seattle has a disproportionately high amount of affluent & middle class whites in comparison to many places in the US. A race gap in performance correlates with a large income gap between whites & blacks in Seattle.

Maureen said...

More specifically, "as more whites are moving to the city, more blacks are moving to the suburbs...." In Renton, "the black population has doubled since 2000.

So, as more low income black families are priced out of the city, will we see the achievement gap close, simply because the remaining black families are wealthy enough to live here? Which superintendent will get to claim credit for that?

Lynn said...

The article said middle class black families were moving out of the city. Lower income families with access to subsidized housing are staying.