Wednesday, June 22, 2016

End of the 2015-2016 School Year

This Friday is the last day of school. For my family and all those I've talked to in person it was a year full of many learning experiences. I'd like to first congratulate all of this year's graduates.  It's the amazing things that they do in school that motivate me first and foremost to keep blogging. Then I'm going to offer up two personal anecdotes for this year.

The first is the very amusing series of dinner conversation we had around the class government in my son's fourth grade room. During their civics project, the kids created and voted on various governance structures and then tried to work within them.  What then ensued was a series of failed governments, restarts, intrigues with their counterpart class including a shadowy underground resistance movement, Machiavellian intrigue, an attempt to install a monarchy, and a constitutional convention. Every day, I asked "So what happened with the government?" and there was some new  political affair to talk about.

Secondly on the last day of Math Club I had a student come up and ask me "Is there a new problem of the week?" I suppressed a smile and responded back "You'll have to wait and rejoin next year."

What have been your favorite moments?

This thread is meant to be celebratory/social.  I've setup other threads to track more serious trends. 


Anonymous said...

Can we discuss the article on Ted Howard in the Seattle Times?

"Part of the answer may lie in more money for counselors trained in dealing with trauma and for academic tutors. But Howard is no longer waiting. Next year he intends to abolish most out-of-school suspensions and, in response to a push from the faculty, cut honors history and English for ninth grade, chipping away at a system that traditionally tracks gifted middle-schoolers — mostly white — into Garfield’s Advanced Placement curriculum."

Where can our students go to receive "appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities, and accelerated pacing" as guaranteed by school board policy?

The district's tradition of site-based management has led principals like Howard to believe that policies and procedures are guidelines rather than rules they must follow.

Maureen said...

Another part of that article lept out at me:

“Are we ready, really ready, to have this conversation?” said Howard, 49, reflecting on the complex realities within his building.

“Because, when I first got here a white parent told me, ‘We run this school. You’re just a caretaker, and don’t ever forget it.’

That was in 2004, do the parents still feel that way?

Mama Bulldog said...

I am also very concerned about cutting honors history and English for ninth grade at GHS. Is that really going to start this fall? What can we do about it? I've got an incoming 9th grader and this wasn't made clear when we decided to go there.

Would love a new thread started on the implications of this article.

Anonymous said...

This is our first year getting SBAC scores. The raw scores are confusing. They include the level but is there a range published for each level - 3, 4?

Anonymous said...

An alum commented at the Seattle Times that the comment made by the white parent to TH was in 2004 after a revolving door of principals had cycled through the building. The alum felt the comment without the backstory was taken out of context. I have a hard time believing that it was actually said or meant in the way it comes across in the article. TH was very young, mid 30's, the parents (according to the alum comment) had been holding the place together for several years, and perhaps it was more of "we've got your back" comment. I hope so.

It seems crazy that they would put all students in the same LA and history classes for 9th grade. Many comments in the article about students arriving at GHS reading at the 5th grade level. How does it benefit anyone to put kids who have been and are capable of working at a high level, well above grade level, with kids who are way behind? Makes no sense. The gap will only widen and everyone will behave badly. Parents should protest. Yes, the honors track is pretty racially segregated (not by design), but don't kids who have worked hard deserve to be in an honors class? It is not the students fault that they are well prepared for high school, it is something that should be applauded and accommodated.

Maureen said...

Does GHS require all students to take an AP class (the way RHS requires AP Human Geog and AP Lit)?

I'm kind of annoyed that the article doesn't mention all of the resources that the GHS PTSA funds for struggling students. From what I understand, they are behind the Read Right program for instance.

Lynn said...

I suggest contacting Ted Howard, Sarah Pritchett and the members of the Curriculum and Instruction Committee about this. It is unclear that the staff at Garfield has made any plans to meet the academic needs of highly capable students in English and History classes next year. The school must be required to show that they're providing the required highly capable services.

In the past the only requirement to be placed in honors level classes in those subjects in the ninth grade was to be reading on grade level. As a result, my student found the English classes very painful. Instruction was not engaging, the peer review process was not at all useful to advanced students and homework assignments were completely inappropriate. Adding students reading at a fifth grade level will not improve the situation.

The changes at Thurgood Marshall, Washington and now at Garfield indicate an intentional choice to disregard the social and academic needs of one group of students. This is more proof that either these programs or these principals are not a good fit for these schools.

Lynn said...


The school does not require all students to take an AP class.

Mama Bulldog said...

Lynn, could you or someone else post email addresses for the right people to contact, and maybe even suggest points to cover? We are fairly new to the school district so some guidance on how to go about registering unhappiness about "no more Honors" at GHS would be very helpful! I can't really see how this is going to benefit any students, at any level.

Lynn said...

I see that Garfield's 2016-17 course catalog lists both regular and honors 9th grade classes in English and history so this may not actually be happening. You can't depend on the catalog though - someone should get a written confirmation from the principal.

Here's the contact information:

school board members on the C&I committee:

I'd also include because she's likely to be interested in this.

Sarah Pritchett will not respond to you (she never responds to parents) but she is Ted Howard's boss.

I would email Ted first to confirm that the reporter was correct about the 9th grade classes. If so, I'd contact everyone I listed above and ask how these classes will meet the needs of highly capable students and how they meet the requirements of the following policy and procedure:

Policy 2190

2190 SP

Anonymous said...

Here's the email from the Garfield PTSA received today:
Garfield HS PTSA
June 25, 2016
Dear Garfield Community,

As you may have seen, the Seattle Times published an article this morning about Mr. Howard and Garfield. The in-depth article addressed race and equity issues at Garfield and quoted a number of people, including Mr. Howard, the Mayor's education adviser, students and parents.

In the article, Mr. Howard says there are plans to make changes to the Honors Social Studies and Language Arts program for incoming ninth-graders. The PTSA is now engaging with the administration, teachers and parents to learn more about the plan. Specifically, we are asking for an implementation plan that addresses the timing and requirements to launch this change.

We are planning to have a meeting next week with the school to ask questions, share parents' concerns and learn about the preparations the administration and district has and is undertaking to make this change a success.

We appreciate that many of you have questions and concerns, and we would like to hear them. Please email or call Barbara or Sally with your thoughts. We will update you as we learn more.


Sally and Barbara 206.992.0924 206.349.1697
Garfield HS PTSA

- Bulldog Parent

Anonymous said...

For the person who asked about SBAC ranges, see the OSPI website:

They will also publish statistics at some point, but 2016 stats are not up yet. See here:

- Bulldog Parent

Benjamin Leis said...

I've setup a separate thread for discussing Garfield Honor's classes. Please move the conversation over to there.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, this article panders to long-held cliches about Garfield, including the old white APP vs. neighborhood African-American schtick. The "black balcony/white hallway" is a leftover, out-of-touch, polarizing image from days gone by, and is not the experience of current students.

The article implies that somehow eliminating honors English and History will somehow disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline for African American students. This nonsense is obviously a disservice to every student at the school.

And, what do you know, there was no mention of all of the Title IX violations at the school, the sexual assault problems, the impossible odds and complete lack of support students with disabilities face, etc. All under Howard's "watch."

Maybe a little less principal time with that leadership coach and a little more time learning about how to follow the law and support all students would be time better spent.

Anonymous said...

This thread is meant to be celebratory/social.

So much for that idea. I wish I had something positive to share based on our experiences this year, but unfortunately I don't. I guess not that many others do, either.

Lynn said...

I am super happy that my child graduated. We had an appointment with her psychiatrist today and all three of us noted that once again there was nothing much to discuss - there never is in the summer. She only has mental health problems during the school year. I guess that's something to celebrate?

Parent of a privileged Garfield student.

Anonymous said...

Geez, what a sad thread! I appreciate Benjamin's prompt and am sorry to see that it went off the deep end of another topic. My child had such a wonderful year at Cascadia that she spent the whole evening of the last day of school crying over the school year ending and how much she would miss her teacher and classmates! Now that speaks volumes, I think. How many kids are SAD to see the school year end?