Saturday, June 25, 2016

Garfield 9th Grade Honors Classes getting Cut

This article was published today in the times about Garfield High School.

http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/microcosm-of-the-city-garfield-principal-navigates-racial-divide/

There are a lot of other interesting issues raised in the article but relevant to our focus is this paragraph:

"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."

There have been whispers that this might be coming but as far as I can tell this is first official confirmation. (Why has this not been discussed in more normal channels?)

Assignment to the classes was not based on HCC eligibility but respectively:

English: "Students will be assigned based on their HSPSE test scores and their grades in 8th grade Language Arts."

World History: "Passing the Reading and Writing sections of the previous WASL exam and reading at or above grade level, or approval of History Dept Chair"

PTSA Email

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.

http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/microcosm-of-the-city-garfield-principal-navigates-racial-divide/ 

Regards,

Sally and Barbara
sally_hulsman@yahoo.com 206.992.0924
bjkelley62@hotmail.com 206.349.1697
Garfield HS PTSA


Please treat each other respectfully and think before you post. 

203 comments :

1 – 200 of 203   Newer›   Newest»
Lynn said...

This is the same kind of change the principal at Thurgood Marshall hopes to make and the principal at Washington made for Spectrum students this year. Pretty soon only students in the north end will have access to actual services for highly capable students.

Anonymous said...

Remember that IBX has now been capped, too. The school is also pushing kids to do regular IB instead of IBX. JAMS has already mixed HCC and HC for some classes. These incremental losses are not only in the south.

I think these "small" changes are being done in order to eventually remove the HS pathway completely. If classes are mixed anyway, what is the point of GHS or IHS? I don't agree with this change, but I think it's where this is all going.

-Trelawney

Mama Bulldog said...

Thank you Sally and Barbara and the Garfield PTSA!

I've copied this over from the other thread because the information seemed important to preserve in this thread. Thanks Lynn for posting it:

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:

trhoward@seattleschools.org
sjpritchett@seattleschools.org

school board members on the C&I committee:

rick.burke@seattleschools.org
scott.pinkham@seattleschools.org
jill.geary@seattleschools.org

I'd also include sue.peters@seattleschools.org 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:

http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/Migration/General/2190.pdf?sessionid=3aaaa7f7b114dd0c2772b0207d758701

http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/advancedlearning/2190SP.sbm.pdf

Anonymous said...

First, AP World History in 9th gets eliminated, then honors World History and honors English? Wow. Of course, before that came the weakening of the middle school HCC LA/SS. Should one expect the formal elimination of HCC LA/SS in middle school next? JAMS sure seemed like a pilot...not sure how the curriculum was considered advanced in the HCC/Spectrum LA/SS classes.

Anonymous said...

Is he eliminating varsity basketball? Are kids headed for the NBA going to play with kids who can barely dribble? The jazz kids who go to Ellington, will they be in beginning band? Kids who are fluent in Spanish, will they need to sit in Spanish 1 as 9th graders? So how does it help a struggling reader to be in class with the kid who reads and writes at a college level? I fail to believe that the faculty is driving this. How can you focus your instruction where kids need it in such a classroom?

open ears

Maureen said...

Trelawney, why do you say IBX is being capped? Enrollment mistakenly put a bunch of students on the wait list, but they were wrong and the list was moved (I did hear that there are six HCC students on the wait list now, but the principal thinks they must have applied late.) It is true that more HCC students are choosing to do IB beginning in 11th grade and that the IHS admin is trying to accommodate that. I wouldn't equate that with pushing kids to do it. Though, given the experience of some really bright kids who couldn't get through all of the executive functioning stuff that IB requires, I think it would be understandable if staff tried to encourage some kids to think hard about committing to IB in 10th grade.

I think it is interesting that RHS, RBHS and CSIHS are all raising the standard by requiring every kid to take at least one AP or IB class, while Ted Howard seems to be doing the opposite at GHS.

Anonymous said...

According to state law, for highly capable students, access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education (RCW 28A.185.020).

That, at its heart, is an equity issue. The legislature has essentially said that providing a general education experience to highly capable students would not provide them an equitable education, as it would not provide an equitable level of challenge and learning. Equity demands that highly capable children receive accelerated learning and enhanced instruction.

So now Ted Howard is suggesting the opposite, that in the name of equity highly capable students should be denied access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction in 9th grade? His school, his rules? I don't think so.

State law also requires that once highly capable services are started, a continuum of services shall be provided to the student, from grades K-12. Eliminating access to honors classes in 9th grade breaks the continuum of services and is thus illegal.

In its Highly Capable Students Program Annual Plan that needs to be submitted to OSPI each summer/fall in order to get that state money for HC services, one requirement is to identify how you serve students at each grade level. For 9th graders, last year the district checked the boxes for "Advanced Placement (AP)" and "Honors/Advanced." The AP box was already a stretch, but they checked it anyway. With the elimination of Honors classes for 9th graders, there's nothing left to check for 9th graders. Ingraham's program is in no way capable of serving ALL the district's HCC 9th graders, so whatever they provide isn't justification enough to check the box.

Elimination of these honors classes is also in conflict with SPS Policy 2190, which states that "the variety of instructional programs or services for students identified as Highly Capable will include pathways to sites with adequate cohorts of Highly Capable students in order to provide...appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities, and accelerated pacing." Restricting HCC 9th graders to GE classes denies them access to appropriate curriculum, appropriately differentiated instruction, deeper learning opportunities, and accelerated pacing. This policy also requires that the continuum of services be, you know, continuous.

Such a change also seems to contradict Superintendent's Procedure 2190SP, which states that "for grades 9-12, HCC students may choose to attend an accelerated AP pathway at Garfield or an accelerated IB pathway at Ingraham." What is this "accelerated AP pathway" at Garfield if there are not honors classes for incoming 9th graders? The whole point of Ted Howard's effort to restrict access to honors classes seems to be to also minimize disparities in who eventually takes AP classes--not by increasing the readiness of underrepresented groups to take such classes, but by reducing access to such classes for others.

If SPS and/or Garfield proceed(s) with this change, I hope HCC parents--across grade levels--band together, complain to OSPI, and sue the district for not providing legally entitled services.



Anonymous said...

An OSPI webinar provides some info on program service design (p.38-44):

http://www.k12.wa.us/highlycapable/pubdocs/HCPResponsetoQsWebinar11-15-13.pdf

Lynn said...

I looked at the most recent (2014-15) statewide schedule of highly capable students and the services they receive.

Link here.

The district reported that every HC student at Garfield and Ingraham was receiving services in a unique highly capable program.

Here's a report of Seattle HC enrollment for that year. The total numbers for high school are equivalent to those listed by the state under Program ID 33 Gifted services or programs provided in a Unique Highly Capable Program.

This seems to be an error. I wonder if it was deliberately reported incorrectly to hide the fact that no services are provided.

If there is going to be a confrontation over ninth grade honors classes at Garfield, I think we should broaden the conversation. The College Board says there are no prerequisites for AP World History. HC students should be allowed to take the class in the 9th grade again. HC students need more rigorous English classes in the 9th and 10th grades than Garfield has been providing. Ingraham offers self-contained classes for highly capable students in the 9th grade - Garfield should provide honors level classes that actually provide a deeper and more accelerated curriculum. Receiving peer review from academic peers would be useful - as opposed to the current situation.

Ingraham IBx Student said...

I am a current IBx student at Ingraham, and I have helped give school tours and orientation events at the school. What we tell prospective students - namely HCC kids - is that IB is an immensely challenging program, and though there are pros to doing the program accelerated, the highly demanding nature of the course can be extremely trying on younger students who lack the same level of emotional maturity as their older peers. I other words, even if their mind is smart enough to handle the program, their emotional state might not have caught up yet. Ultimately, it is a highly individually based decision, but we want to make sure students thrive wherever they end up, and we want to make sure they understand the commitment of IB before taking it on. After all, IB in and of itself is an immensely challenging high school program, and doing it accelerated only adds to the load. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

SPS management is determined to destroy any and all programs that separate out kids from the general population. We've seen this with Middle College and EEU, the end of Spectrum, and their ongoing hostility to IB despite its success at Rainier Beach and other schools. I'm not surprised they're making this attack at Garfield now. While the concerns about racial diversity are legitimate, simply terminating Honors classes at Garfield or any other advanced learning at any other school doesn't solve those problems. It will just drive those parents out of the district while doing nothing to actually solve the underlying problems causing other kids to be behind in their learning.

One wonders what SPS's true goal is here. It's clearly not helping all students learn.

Anonymous said...

If high achieving kids leave for the suburbs and private schools the achievement gap disappears. Like magic, the "most important work of our time" is successfully completed.

Anonymous said...

The problem is with the alternatives to instructional at the appropriate academic level: worksheets! Just give them a few extra worksheets! That is what passes for differentiated instruction in SPS.

Reading

Anonymous said...

If I were in charge, knowing the capacity crisis at the high school level is only getting to get worse with each passing year, I would be doing what it takes to draw kids out of the full schools and into the less full schools.

HCC is the moveable feast. Make Garfield less attractive to drive kids into IB programs or an AP school closer to home. Put a cap on Ingraham IB/IBx enrollment, and when cries of equity and/or distance arise, shift kids to IB/start IBx at Rainier Beach and Sealth. Make IB/IBx the new default pathway for HCC with assignment by home address and allow neighborhood school as the alternative by saying a full slate of AP courses equal to Garfield is available. An influx of HCC families into the other IB schools means an influx of PTA money for things like, I don't know, IB costs. Solve several problems at once!

Former dragon

Maureen said...

You know, given the current size of the HCC cohort (and the fact that Advanced Learning has never been more than the cohort at the HS level) Former dragon's option actually makes practical sense (I know it wasn't intended that way.) Oldtimers here, how big was the APP cohort at Garfield,say, ten years ago? Given current numbers, couldn't that same size cohort be assembled at: IHS, RHS(/LHS), GHS, RBHS, CSIHS (and say) WSHS or FHS? (Yes, I know RHS is packed right now, if it's a real problem, then place the nominal cohort at BHS. A bunch will stay at RHS anyway.)

How does this not make sense? Splitting the program and allowing students to test in at 8th grade will only shake more HCC students out of the woodwork (as happened with the WMS/Hamilton and TM/Lincoln splits) so even more peers will identified.

Anonymous said...

No, it wasn't entirely a snarky recommendation. It's the only possible solution that I've been able to see for a few years now. It just seems like rather than coming right out and saying it, they're doing it stealthily and slowly perhaps to avoid a lot of public anger.

In reality, I think parents would rather know sooner than later what their child's high school pathway looks like, but they don't seem interested in telling us that. My HCC kid starts high school not this September but the next, and I'd love to know the options not just for 9th grade but what school they'll graduate from come 2021. It's crazy not to have certainty on any of it at this point in time. None of the capacity problems are news to anyone!

Run the numbers, do what's practical and just tell us. This cohort of families knows that changes have to be made - we've been dealing with it our kids' entire academic careers thus far. Just tell us already.

Former dragon

Anonymous said...

Former dragon, I just don't see your proposal as realistic. First, IB is not interchangeable with AP - the IB diploma requires a 7th period class and work over the summer. Can you require that of a student, as opposed to making it optional, as it is now? SPS doesn't fund the IB programs across the district, nor do they seem interested in starting. Fiscally, doing away with IB and moving to the AP capstone diploma program (College Board's attempt to copy IB), would make more sense. Not that I'm encouraging that approach, but IB as "the" service model for HCC does not seem ideal. It's more expensive for both students and schools, and doesn't offer the same flexibility as AP. You are also failing to acknowledge other reasons students choose Garfield (or opt for Roosevelt or Ballard) - to be part of the long-standing music program (or drama or film...). Transportation to school, especially given the more limited bus routes with the addition of light rail, is also a big factor.

I've given up speculating what the district is planning - it seems the decisions are based on anything BUT good planning or what's best for students. I just wish they would stop with the June surprises. It's hard enough making an informed choice without programs and schools changing after open enrollment.

Anonymous said...

Ideal or not, IB is what they offer continuously enrolled gifted students in Bellevue:

Gifted High School Program (GHSP) [Grades 9 – 12]

In the Gifted High School Program (GHSP), students of exceptionally high academic and intellectual ability are grouped in a cohort in the core areas of English, history, science and math. Placement in each area is based on knowledge and skill level. In grades 10 & 11 students enroll in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Program with the goal that they complete IB degrees at the end of the 11th grade. The 12th grade curriculum includes internships, independent studies, research projects and college classes.

The Bellevue School District Gifted High School Program (GHSP) is the final piece in the Bellevue School District 2-12 gifted program. The GHSP was formed with the intention of providing a four-year high school experience that allows students with exceptionally high academic ability to be appropriately challenged while maintaining a balanced extra-curricular life.

Students identified as highly capable in grades 9-12 have the option to receive services in their home school. Newly identified students in GHSP who choose to receive gifted services in their home school as their initial placement will receive enhanced or extended learning opportunities in their regular classroom through a menu of options developed to meet their needs (differentiated services).

Maureen said...

I agree that IB is not for everyone and will struggle to sustain itself if the District doesn't step up. Given the current and projected size of the cohort and the fact that there is no HCC curriculum, it would be enough to offer HCC HS students a choice of an IB program (with the option of doing IBx) and a seat at a school that offers a full slate of AP classes (equal to what RHS/GHS/BHS do now.) The whole "but what about music or drama or film" thing should not be part of the question. Core academics should determine placement. Programs like music, drama etc. are really important, but they will get stronger when students who are involved choose a school (witness IHS.) There are also after school programs that kids can join if their school doesn't have a critical mass of students with their interests.

Transportation for HCC is actually not an issue at all. That is one thing the state actually pays for. IHS runs yellow buses for HCC students who are in Metro wastelands.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, those AP schools closer to home are also full, so I'm not seeing how driving kids to those helps much.

HF

Anonymous said...

@ maureen, you said: "Given the current and projected size of the cohort and the fact that there is no HCC curriculum, it would be enough to offer HCC HS students a choice of an IB program (with the option of doing IBx) and a seat at a school that offers a full slate of AP classes (equal to what RHS/GHS/BHS do now.)"

Yes...if only all those schools had room. And if you look at the demographics of who is currently entering Garfield via the HCC pathway, I suspect you'll find a large proportion of them already have exactly the choice you propose--they are north end/QA/Magnolia kids who could go to Ballard or Roosevelt as their neighborhood school, or Garfield or Ingraham via HCC. I don't see your proposal helping all that much.

HF

Anonymous said...

But the status quo isn't going to work any longer either. Something has to give. Pushing kids out of Garfield to IB schools might help in the short-term. Some may not like that option and leave HCC for neighborhood school. But ideally enough would choose an IB school to squeak by another couple of years til Lincoln reopens.

Also, can Roosevelt use any space at John Marshall? It's close enough to walk. Loyal Heights will be there next year and the year after, but maybe there's space for a Roosevelt annex if needed (rather than portables on the Roosevelt site)?

Another idea is for Lincoln to start sooner, in the 2018-2019 school year at Marshall when it's empty and move over to Lincoln a year later.

Former dragon

Anonymous said...

Maureen said, "The whole 'but what about music or drama or film' thing should not be part of the question. Core academics should determine placement."

You're right that core academics are of prime importance, but when students have choice (like your children, yes?) the HS decision is a balance of core academics, extracurriculars, and transportation. Weakening the Garfield program will drive more students to already overcrowded high schools like Roosevelt and Ballard (private simply isn't an option for many families). The disparity in student demographics between schools would only increase under such a scenario, which seems counter to what the district has tried to do with program placement and boundary redraws.

IB at Interlake is also different than IBX at Ingraham. Interlake prepares students for both IB and AP exams, plus is much more selective. It's just not comparable. Bellevue also has gifted middle school classes, which probably prepare students better than SPS's anything goes program.

Maureen said...

My kids stayed at their Option K-8 (we called them Alts then) instead of moving to Lowell or WMS/HIMS so only had the choices that were available to Gen Ed students for HS. Because we thought about that at the right time we lived in a house that made those choices pretty good (though they did not include Garfield.) We were also lucky in that there was still some choice left those years.

I think the idea of Roosevelt annexing Marshall until Lincoln comes online is worth looking into.

Anonymous said...

Looking at the maps of where HCC eligible students live, it's hard to imagine RBHS and CSHS being pathways.

Where Grades 1-5 students live who are eligible for HCC:
http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/datamaps/pdfs/Heatmap_HCC_Elig_15.pdf

Lynn said...

Good point. Last year there were 434 highly capable 6th grade students. If 100 students per grade is a minimum cohort size, we'll soon have enough students for 4 sites. The first problem is that those students don't line up with the empty high schools. The only schools that are not already full are RBHS, CSIH and WSHS.

Sixth grade students by attendance area:

111 Whitman
77 Eckstein
69 Washington
62 Hamilton
47 McClure
19 Jane Addams
18 Mercer
14 Aki
12 Madison
5 Denny

The other problem is that many principals don't acknowledge the need for highly capable services in high school. (Ballard's principal refers to "boutique schools" as inequitable, Roosevelt's principal for years required advanced students to retake classes they'd covered in middle school and West Seattle's principal uses her concern for the "whole child" to discourage students from taking too many AP courses.)

Here's a link to this year's enrollment data by grade and attendance area: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/2015-16/Section%209.pdf

Fiona Cohen said...

My blond, blue-eyed older child is starting Garfield in September.

I don't know if removing these courses is a good idea or not. I don't have the information that would let me decide that. For the moment I would rather talk about the racial divide at Garfield and what we can do to make things right. Because it is clear that the status quo is not serving a huge part of the community.

Maureen said...

Thank you for that link MapPerson (since you didn't name yourself!). I gotta say though, if we forced every kid in Seattle to test (public and private) and mapped qualified kids, I'm guessing we would see a lot of gold shading along most of Lake Washington and the Puget Sound Coast. (Basically a combo of housing values, education level of parents and family size plus fear of being assigned to a crappy school would give us the equivalent.) The concentrations are clearly a combination of real data combined with noise where the noise reflects the interaction of socioeconomics and how far away the HCC pathway school is combined with perceived quality of the assignment school. (Why is the shading by McGilvra so small? Mainly perception of high quality neighborhood school plus a certain amount of private school attendance I think.)

I would love to see the same maps for a few years before and after the Lowell split, broken down by grade level (people may keep dragging a 4th grader to Wallingford from Capitol Hill for another two years, but might send a 1st grader to Montlake or TOPS.) I also noticed that this is 1st-5th, I could not find the other ones by tweaking the URL, can you link to them?

TL;DR version: If you build more pathways, more qualified students will appear. (Look at that little yellow patch by Fairmount Park. Was it there ten years ago? How big will it be ten years from now?)

Lynn said...

Can I ask what you mean by the racial divide? Is it the segregated social groups reported by the Times or the achievement gap? Defining the problem is necessary before we can discuss solutions.

I don't believe the achievement gap is larger at Garfield than in the district as a whole. It's just that we put students from the extreme ends of the spectrum in one building there and people notice it more. I'd bet the gap between poor kids at Rainier Beach and kids at Roosevelt who aren't living in poverty is as large as what we see at Garfield. It just doesn't make people so uncomfortable.

The status quo (high childhood poverty rates) certainly isn't serving any of our students well. How to fix that is the real question.

It's obvious this is a bad idea academically. How could this be helpful?

Lynn said...

Heat map for grades 6-8: https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/datamaps/pdfs/Heatmap_HCC_Elig_68.pdf

Heat map for grades 9-12: https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Maps/datamaps/pdfs/Heatmap_HCC_Elig_912.pdf

You'll find the increase in APP enrollment over time from 2008 (pre-split) through 2013 on page 87 of this enrollment report: http://sps.ss8.sharpschool.com/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Reports/Annual%20Enrollment/AER%202013-14.pdf

Anonymous said...

From the district department menu, click on E, then Enrollment Planning, which takes you to a "maps" link.

-MapPerson

Maureen said...

Thanks MapPerson! And Lynn, thank you! You are a gem! Sincerely.

Look! Haller Lake and Olympic Manor suddenly acquire intelligent children for 9-12 that didn't exist before! And Bryant's children become measurably less intelligent over time, But Ballard's gain in intelligence! So interesting.

I really wish I were thirty years younger and looking for a PhD (Masters?) topic. The data here is really worth analyzing (is it in the public domain?)

Lynn said...

You're welcome Maureen!

Garfield is actually doing pretty well with its black students. The school's graduation rate for black students in the class of 2014-15 was 84.5% - second only to Rainier Beach's 88.5%.

The black-white achievement gap we see at Garfield was in place well before students made it to high school - before they enrolled in kindergarten even. I don't see how the blame can be placed at the feet of Ted Howard, HCC students or the PTSA. (Which by the way raises money primarily for support services for unsuccessful students and for classroom supplies.)

Anonymous said...

What about Franklin? How does that high school get a pass in all of these discussions? What is their strategy for meeting the needs of all learners?

Quaking

Lynn said...

Franklin's comparable graduation rates were 79.2% overall and 71.6 for black students. Both measurements are lower than Garfield's and Rainier Beach's.

http://www.k12.wa.us/dataadmin/

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that this blog chooses to concentrate only on the 9th grade honors issue when many equally salient and interesting points were made in the Seattle Times article. Taking the issue of 9th grade honors out of a larger context and focusing solely on it, hides and distorts the other issues raised in the article such as the school culture and climate at GHS and the problems with high school capacity and the master schedule. Life is not only about honors classes in 9th grade, as this article makes clear. - NP

Benjamin Leis said...

@NP - Generally the conversation goes in the direction that those who comment are interested in. So feel free to talk about the other issues around Garfield that article mentioned here. I opened the thread as requested for those concerned about the Honors classes but that as always is just a starting point. I'd also add that the discussion on SaveSeattleSchools blog about this article touches on some of the other racial issues so you may want to go there if you haven't seen it already. Which brings me to my final point, I try to maintain our editorial focus and defer to that blog for more general issues since its readership is wider. I'm also interested in other topics outside HCC about the district and pursue them elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

@ NP, this is the HCC blog. People enter HCC to gain access to appropriately challenging academics, so I don't think it's any surprise that people here are focusing on the threat of losing access to appropriately challenging academics at Garfield, the HCC pathway high school. It makes complete sense.

High school capacity and the master schedule (and state funding) are much larger issues, and they aren't HCC-specific. They've also been discussed a lot on other threads and/or blogs. The school culture and climate at Garfield, while important, are probably secondary to academic issues for many HCC families. After all, if you're in HCC for the academics and Garfield isn't offering what you need, why not go somewhere else--maybe somewhere that doesn't have the same school culture/climate problems that seem to always be in the papers?

If you have a novel suggestion or unique insight re: the Garfield situation as it relates to HCC, by all means share it here. But if you're just here to criticize people for focusing on something you deem less important--like appropriate educational opportunities for gifted high school students--I'm not sure there's a lot of interest in hearing, yet again, how our kids matter less than others.

HF

Anonymous said...

A comment on using IB as the sole HC accommodation in SPS: The state guarantees access to HC services, but it does not guarantee a choice. If SPS wants to make IB the HC service, then fine. It doesn't have to be of the same caliber as Bellevue's, but they do need to pay for it and not rely on PTAs for that.

As long as GHS is a "guaranteed pathway" then SPS stays in compliance. But there's no law against making that pathway less desirable. I agree with Former Dragon that it appears SPS is counting on more families to pick IB or neighborhood for their HC kid. Some neighborhood schools have room for that. Roosevelt and especially Ballard do not.

I too have been watching this HS capacity mess unfold for the past couple of years. Here's what I see as options that would allow SPS to shift HC students away from GHS back to RHS & BHS (not all of them great ones):

1. Limit the number of seats in AP classes at neighborhood schools, forcing desired numbers into Running Start (unfortunately a very likely scenario)
2. Get a departure from the city to add portables to RHS & BHS
3. Move NHHS and IHS boundaries south
4. Increase IBX "cap," even if this means adding a few portables until the new addition is open
5. Open Lincoln a year early at John Marshall with 9th & 10th grade, move to LHS in 2019 in a modified roll-up so no seniors are pulled from existing placements (solves two problems at once!)
6. Split shifts for 2018 (I really hope they can avoid this)

2HC

Anonymous said...

In response to HF's comment above (we cross posted) I wholeheartedly agree that academics at whatever the district deems the "pathway school" need to be appropriately challenging. This move away from Honors at GHS is troubling and possibly even out of compliance, unless they are planning to cut off that pathway and move it elsewhere.

2HC

Anonymous said...

One comment, I seem to have lost the link to the proper document but the John Marshall building is not going to be empty for while. If I remember correctly Loyal Heights will be there for the next 2 years and there might have been more than that.

Anonymous said...

John Marshall is slated to be used by QAE in 2018-19. I think the argument could be made that HS capacity is a more pressing issue affecting far more students in the district. SPS could seek an alternate interim for QAE, figure out a way for schools to colocate in 2018, or worst case push that work back a year.

2HC

Anonymous said...

This is veering off topic, but won't temporary portables be at IHS as part of the addition? It's my understanding one of the existing buildings (science building?) will be rebuilt, so classrooms would need to be relocated to portables during construction.

Anonymous said...

2HC said: As long as GHS is a "guaranteed pathway" then SPS stays in compliance. But there's no law against making that pathway less desirable.

Actually, I don't think the "guaranteed pathway" is required by law, nor do I think simply having a "guaranteed pathway" necessarily means SPS is in compliance with state law. The district could opt to serve HC students at their neighborhood schools, eliminating the pathway altogether (which I believe they intend to do before long). The key issue is services. Once services are started, they need to provide a continuum of services at all grade levels. While you're correct that there's no law against making Garfield less desirable, they DO have to provide some type of HC services for 9th graders. If GHS decides to eliminate honors classes for HCC 9th graders coming from advanced LA/SS classes in middle school, they are breaking that continuum. The district's currently identified services for 9th grade HC students are (according to our official report to OSPI, at least) AP and Advanced/Honors classes. I"m not sure the AP option is accurate anymore since they stopped allowing 9th graders access to AP World History, so getting rid of honors/advanced LA and SS would leave what, exactly, as our HC service for 9th graders? Access to a pathway is not a service.

HF

Anonymous said...

Re: 2HC's option #1, that high schools limit the number of seats in AP classes at neighborhood schools, forcing desired numbers into Running Start, I wanted to point out that RS is only for 11th and 12th graders. Schools will need to ensure that 9th and 10th graders have access to the classes they need. This is particularly true given the new 24-credit graduation requirement, which will hit those entering high school in 2017. We don't know yet how, or within what timeframe, the district will respond to this new requirement, so it will be important for those at the front end of the change to get as many classes in as possible if there aren't yet new credit opportunities available.

Anonymous said...

Why does AP feel like a tide, rising for awhile then retreating? One thing for sure, when the tide goes out it leaves behind a really smelly situation.

AP2

Anonymous said...

@HF, I think we are saying the same thing: the guaranteed pathway isn't required, the service is. SPS is already required to serve students at whatever high school they attend, but some schools do a better job than others. Here's what it currently says in SP 2030:

"All comprehensive high schools offer either AP or IB courses in multiple subject areas that allow Highly Capable students to accelerate and/or deepen their learning. The courses provide challenging academic material at the college-level for all students that have taken the prerequisite courses."

They are suggesting that AP/IB courses (and prerequisites) are the "continuum of services." The problem is many of these sites aren't currently in compliance. IB is funded by PTAs and grants. There are access issues at some of the other schools. The GHS pathway lets SPS say "see, we are meeting state requirements." If SPS opts to get rid of that pathway and provide HC services elsewhere (and I agree with you they probably intend to) they will need to tighten the ship and ensure access to required classes at every school, and they will need to pay for IB.

2HC

Anonymous said...

Sorry, that's SP 2190.
2HC

Anonymous said...

2HC, we're kind saying the same thing, but not quite. I don't think the pathway lets them say they are meeting the requirement. They can say that in narrative form, yes--but on the state highly capable plan/application form (here's last year's draft) they need to identify which specific programs/services they provide at each grade level.

On page 10 they include high school under the CEDARS 34 group, "Acceleration services and programs" (vs. 32: GenEd-based or 33: Unique HCP). For 9th grade, the identified services are AP and Honors/Advanced. They HAVE to include something for 9th grade. If Garfield is the HCC pathway school, or even just a neighborhood school for local HC students, they need to offer something. If they no longer offer AP or Honors/Advanced classes to HC 9th graders, what can the district--legitimately--check for 9th graders? Will they go back to the GE box (32) and pick something there instead? If so, which instructional strategies and curricular modification will they commit to (so people can hold them accountable for the required modifications? They can't just provide regular classes with no HC-specific service component, even if it's just for one grade.

HF

Anonymous said...

Fully agree, the pathway is meaningless if it doesn't lead to a continuum of services. That's why I made the comment above about the move away from Honors at GHS being troubling and possibly out of compliance. If the pathway doesn't lead to appropriate services, then it's out of compliance. If it leads to appropriate services, and they can demonstrate how, they can say they are checking the box. I also agree that the proposed cuts would leave questionable services for 9th graders.
Thanks for posting that doc! Lots of good info there.
2HC

Anonymous said...

My oldest is a rising 7th grader at WMS (HCC) so I'm still learning the lingo and specifics of how HCC works in high school, so apologies if this is a dumb question but here goes. I see a lot of references in the comments to how if they remove AP and honors classes from 9th grade at Garfield, they could say the HCC pathway still exists through AP classes in "neighborhood" schools. We live close to Garfield and have no other neighborhood school. Where would my HCC kid then go to access appropriate classes?

-- WMS/HCC Mom

Anonymous said...

WMS/HCC Mom, not at all a dumb question! This is what SPS does, they make us all dig and dig to get the info we seek.

The only HC "pathway" is to GHS. But by law, HC services must also be provided at every neighborhood school. There is definitely inconsistency in the rigor and depth offered at all the different schools. Garfield has more AP classes and access is currently guaranteed to all students in the district via the pathway.

If Garfield doesn't offer honors, accelerated learning, and/orAP classes to 9th graders, they may be out of compliance. They may try to say differentiation is enough. But if you want an alternative, IB at RBHS, Sealth, or Ingraham are also options, though not guaranteed.

2hc

Lynn said...

Every high school has to provide highly capable services in every grade. If the solution to overcrowding at Garfield is to dissolve the cohort after 8th grade (so that it's no longer the pathway school) and provide services through honors and AP or IB classes at every high school, Garfield will still have to provide services to highly capable students living in the attendance area.

Let's hope the advanced learning office makes that clear to Garfield's staff.

Lynn said...

On neighborhood high schools and highly capable services:

There are highly capable students at every attendance area high school. (The numbers are small - Franklin, Nathan Hale, Rainier Beach, Sealth and West Seattle each have less than 20 HC students.) Are these schools providing highly capable services? I would consider math and science placement based on the courses taken in the prior year and honors (not blended) classes in English and history to be necessary courses for highly capable students.

Only Ballard and Ingraham offer these classes in each of the four core subjects. West Seattle comes close but requires all freshman to take biology.

Franklin and Nathan Hale not only don't offer these courses, their schedules are built around ninth grade academies, which makes it impossible for students to access the appropriate classes. This is an example of how site-based management is inappropriate in a district with a geographic assignment plan.

I don't think Garfield really meets these requirements now. The classes they've labeled honors English and history are just renamed general education classes.

It's time for a more extensive discussion of highly capable services in the high schools.

jujubee said...

I have a Garfield-related enrollment question: If my kid, who is currently enrolled to start at Garfield (HCC), has a change of heart (or decides that Garfield HCC is not worth the uncertainty/drama), is there a guaranteed spot at our attendance area high school? I think the answer is yes, but I know there were some changes recently (like the waitlist dates). Is there a date after which there is not a guaranteed spot?

-jujubee

Anonymous said...

Thank you Lynn! To add onto your report, Roosevelt also is not hitting the mark as far as HC services, and there are 69 HC students currently enrolled there.

9th grade LA/World History has no honors option. After 9th grade, all Gen Ed LA classes may be taken for honors credit.
For Math/Science/World Language, the principal said at the info night that HC students are placed in the next level they are in line for, but the course catalog doesn't currently show these classes open to 9th graders. Maybe just a formality, but this also doesn't sync with this note in the catalog: "All ninth grade students are required to take Physical Science . All tenth grade students are required to take Biology ."

Looks like 9th grade is an interruption of the continuum of services for many students.

2HC

Anonymous said...

Good question, jujubee. Reading the new assignment plan, it seems May 31 is the last date to change assignment. For HCC students entering 9th grade: If they apply for their attendance area high school during Open Enrollment through May 31, they will be assigned to their attendance area school.

A footnote states: No students will be added to the waitlist after May 31, but waitlists will be maintained until August 15.

Shouldn't any program changes be announced prior to May 31??

http://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/Enrollment%20Planning/Student%20Assignment%20Plan/Student%20Assignment%20Transition%20Plan%20for%202016-17.pdf

Anonymous said...

The Times article creates a narrative of a black/white racial divide, avoiding in my opinion the real conversation about poverty and a middle/working class divide in this city and our country. In addition, although they state Asians also predominate in AP classes relative to representative population, they are strategically ommitted in this narrative. Racism is real. But I feel the author is intentionally creating a black/white divide in this article.

In addition, who decides what "white" means? Is it Northern European exclusively or does it include others such as those from N Africa & the Mediterranean? The term has been a moving target & my relatives fleeing intense poverty were not considered white in the US at the time they immigrated 100 years ago. Although my HCC daughter looks white & checks white on the forms, we have very mixed ethnic heritage that includes hispanic, middle eastern, Greek & n African roots. Some but not all of our relatives are darker skinned, but check white on the forms. We don't all fit neatly into that "white" box as middle class Anglo American Whites with the same shared history, socioeconomic status and access to opportunity in this country.
-JT

Anonymous said...

"But I feel the author is intentionally creating a black/white divide in this article."

I would suggest that it is the subject of the article, Mr Howard, who intentionally creates the black white divide that is presented in this article. The "author" is a reporter, not creating ideas, merely reporting. Not a slam on reporters at all, but just a distinction between a writer who can create things in prose, and a reporter who is telling us what they saw, were told, etc. Just the facts.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. The reporter sure let a lot of this kind of stuff through: " a white parent told me" "Craighead, who is white..." "interactions far more personal than those between Howard and his white students" "he attempted to hold a large number of white students to the same standard as he does blacks." And 33% of Garfield's population is not white or black. That's a significant number. Where are they in this story? The reporter is the one who chooses the angle. This came across as a narrative spin to me too, intended to drive the reader to specific connections.

Maureen said...

Agree that the reporter was spinning the story as a black white divide. These Education Lab stories are all spun (spinned?). I don't think they pretend to be objective, do they? Does the Times pretend to be at all objective anymore? (Honest question, I cancelled my subscription years ago.)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Benjamin Leis said...

Moderator Note: if you're going to post links especially on a themed thread please add a little bit of explanation of why you're doing so. Thanks

Anonymous said...

@Benjamin, there's no good reason for that link here. It's completely unrelated--just a personal attack on Melissa Westbrook. If I were in your position, I'd delete it.

blog follower

Rachel said...

I have a 9th grader starting up in the fall at Garfield in HCC and reached out to Mr. Howard (who I believe is in a very difficult position and doing the best that he can) and he said "What we are planning on doing is offering Honors for all students at the 9th grade." Do I interpret that as 1) no change, 2) Honors for whomever qualifies (which I thought was already the case), or 3) every class is now honors?? Has anyone heard anything official from the PTA?

Anonymous said...

I think the question is - are they also offering non-honors sections for 9th grade ? If his plan is to put students reading at the fifth grade level in class with students reading at the college level, he is not doing the best he can. And they have never done this before. But, perhaps they will be offering both honors and non-honors, as in the past, and students can choose?

Lynn said...

Based on comments from a Garfield English teacher, they are offering just one level of 9th grade English next year. They are choosing to call it honors but it is also remedial and grade level.

Are they so convinced that it's an honors class that they're going to give every student the .5 GPA boost for class ranking? (I don't care about the grades at all - but that's a district policy and I think a point that should be made.) The work is supposed to be different from the general education/grade level class and how can it be when that course doesn't exist?

This is just ridiculous. Is 9th grade health an honors class now too? How about PE?

Mama Bulldog said...

Has anyone gotten clarification from Mr. Howard about what "Honors for all students" means? Because, clearly, having only one class called "Honors" that everyone takes is Honors in name only. Renaming it won't change the fact that it's no longer HCC-appropriate curriculum.

Also, how can they change their course offerings for this fall so quickly, when kids have already registered for classes, and school is out for the summer? Doesn't a change of this magnitude require more time, discussion and thoughtful deliberation?

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the AL office is involved in this at all? They know SPS is required to provide HC services in 9th grade, so I wonder if they played a role in this yet-to-be-confirmed decision to relabel basic LA and/or SS as "honors"? That way they could still check the box for OSPI.

Anonymous said...

I am the outgoing PTSA President at Garfield. I am not speaking for the PTSA here.

1. This is unrelated to funding. This is a teacher-led initiative that is aimed at closing the achievement gap and integrating the classrooms (their words, not mine).
2. Their proposal is to fully integrate remedial, core and honors in the same sections for all 9th grade LA and SS students beginning this fall.
3. They believe that they can effectively differentiate in a 30+ student class across that spectrum and deliver better educational outcomes from the start

We have met with them twice, and they have provided no more detail to us than I have provided here. We have asked them many questions about curriculum, standards, readiness/professional development and gotten nothing more specific. There are no specific goals on student achievement and the school's documented improvement plan makes no mention of this as a strategy. As far as I can tell, there is no communication plan for families.

Most importantly, this is a huge change. Every parent has the right to hear what they are proposing, ask questions and provide feedback in advance. All families have the right to understand the school's approach before choosing schools and classes. Parents and teachers should be given the opportunity to be prepared for the changes this brings. This doesn't just affect HCC cohorts, it affects all families.

Garfield has one of the lowest family engagement satisfaction scores in the district climate study by the way.

Anonymous said...

This is total BS.

Has anyone contacted the Board yet to discuss how this violates Board policy? And what are the Board's options here? I guess they can tell the Supe to make sure Garfield implements HC services consistent with board policy, then they can fire him if it doesn"t. And I guess they can also refuse to sign off our Highly Capable grant application to the state later this summer, if it knowingly includes false information. Is that it?

Has anyone contacted the AL office yet to see how they will ensure state law re: HC services is followed? If they are relying on "differentiation," will they be observing classes and documenting the ongoing provision of appropriate differentiation, or will they turn a blind eye and assume that if Garfield says they are differentiating then that's good enough?

Since this is a late-breaking change, will the district allow any incoming 9th grade HC students who want to switch to Ingraham to do so, since state law says that for HC students access to accelerated learning and enhanced instruction is access to a basic education (RCW 28A.185.020)? If Garfield will not provide appropriate services, students who wish reassignment should get it.

Mama Bulldog said...

How can we contact these teachers with our feedback? Can you send us their contact information? I agree that we all deserve a voice in this huge, last-minute change.

Union Street said...

I fully support Mr. Howard's decision.

Parents should get on board and make it work instead of complaining. We can't keep things the way they have been, Too many kids are getting hurt by a system that shows bias towards the well-connected and less poor.

The status quo works for some families, the HCC families, but it's not working for many others.

The bottom line is that the HCC kids need to interact more with the other kids.

Anonymous said...

What does connections have to do with this Union Street? I get the money and I understand that that this a real problem. And I am glad you didn't say race because this isn't about race it is about SES and ELL but how is blending these classes going to hurt less people? Please give me one example? And no connections don't lead to higher IQ and better test scores. Give me a break!

-sps parent

Maureen said...

Mamma Bulldog said: Because, clearly, having only one class called "Honors" that everyone takes is Honors in name only. Renaming it won't change the fact that it's no longer HCC-appropriate curriculum.

Note that at least three SPS HSs require every student to take at least one AP or IB class. The only differences I can see with what Garfield is doing is (1) they are requiring a class that will be more accessible to all students and will happen at a time when it could help identify more students capable of doing college level work and (2) AP and IB classes have defined curricula (and materials to some extent) so it is easier to tell if the class is on track.

Note, that I'm not particularly in favor of all students at a school being required to take a college level class, but the fact is that three principals in SPS have done this and people don't seem to be complaining about it (any more.)

Would GHS families prefer that approach?

SusanH said...

I remain confused by this whole move. I thought that honors classes were all opt-in in high school. Aren't they? So, I thought anyone could choose to take the honors version of a class if they feel they wanted the challenge. It seems like the middle school teachers should be advising their students of which class they should sign up for (honors or regular). My younger daughter is in Gen Ed, but I expect her to sign up for honors classes when she gets to high school because she's a hard worker and likes to challenge herself. Why get rid of this opt-in approach?

Union Street said...

Are you kidding, sps parent? One example of how having children of various abilities and backgrounds in the same classroom helped those students?

One example then,

My child was in autism inclusion classrooms in middle school. She is, and was at that time, HC qualified, but chose to attend her neighborhood school.

She benefited academically and experientially in that classroom from the inclusiveness of the class. More than she would have in a self-contained HCC classroom.

The inclusion students also benefited for the class and from her presence in the class, academically and experientially.

Inclusion has helped untold numbers of students.

Anonymous said...


Connections, meaning education level of parents and access to resources for their children, do, according to science, have a strong correlation to IQ and test scores.

But, hey, that's just science. The thing we want our kids to learn.

Timmy

Anonymous said...

Interesting post on SSS (Garfield thread) from outgoing PTSA President. What surprises me about the proposed changes at both TM and Garfield is the timing. It's July. School's out for summer. Are we to believe a planned, revised curriculum is going to be in place in just two months? Who has confidence with such a time frame?

Anonymous said...

You said harmed and not helped. Thanks but please let me know how gen ed kids are harmed by taking gen ed classes. It must be so difficult.

more than half the schedule is inclusive and students who want the challenge can sign up for it if they wish. Just don't see it.

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

Timmy

They said connections not education level. The implication is that connections got them into a tracked program and not IQ. Naive much? Or the corollary, without connections you can't get in. Or without money you can't get in. NOT TRUE. In fact the opposite is true as FRL/ELL status are conspired for applicants. Meaning you are more likely to get in with the non-qualifying scores than a non FRL/ELL kid with the same scores. Which makes sense right?


-sps parrent

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's a matter of curriculum. I think curriculum is about the same in 9th grade LA honors and regular classes. The big difference, and I have heard this from my kids who have been in non-honors, mixed HCC and gen ed classes (languages, esp Spanish), is the tone and behavior of the class. Taking kids who have felt disenfranchised from school for several years and teaching them at the a high school level with kids who are engaged and succeeding, is a recipe for a poorly behaved class.

I think the teachers at GHS struggle with the separation they see in their classes - yes it is SES, but it is also racial. Brown skin -Latino, Black, African - do make up the students in much of the non-honors classes. Perhaps they truly feel that if they can expose all kids to the idea of rigor in high school, at the ninth grade entry level, they can inspire kids who have not had the advantage of HCC, private or a "better" public school experience, to reach for the college prep track because they will discover they can achieve academically. I believe this is their motivation. They are on the ground daily, and I'm sure have been thoughtful in the process of formulating this change in 9th grade LA. Whether it will work or not is the question. Honors LA was pretty uninspiring, and most kids certainly had better LA in middle school, even non-HCC kids. Going backwards, which is how parents are perceiving this move, doesn't seem like the right fix for highly capable kids. Maybe the GHS LA teachers can have a forum with parents before school starts to explain their new program.

Anonymous said...

sps parent,

not a lot of what you write in comprehensible to me, could you restate your position and argument, please?

Thanks

Anonymous said...

no thanks, thanks. it is fairly straightforward. there is no there, there when it comes to needing connections or money to get into HCC. And there is becoming less and less there, there when it comes to learning experience within the HCC.

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

I applaud the GHS faculty for trying a new approach to educate all students at GHS. It seems like a lot of parents here are disrespectful to the teachers at Garfield who spend a tremendous amount of time with all of our kids on a daily basis. Why not see if this new program will work as opposed to damning it from the start. - Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

You can choose to believe that money and "connections" mean nothing in regards HCC placement. That is a choice you and many others make. Just as you can choose to attack the HCC program, even while gaining benefit from it, even as it excludes children of low income and non-white/asian students.

You can choose to lie to yourself and to others about the raw deal you and your kids get and how the poor have all the options you have.

Choice is wonderful.

Anonymous said...

Capitol Hill Parent, I think the reason is that we have seen it tried many times in other places, and the result is always the same- it does not work for advanced kids(no change for anyone else, though better optics), and it is impossible to go back to the model that works better once the shift has been made.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Disrespectful to put it mildly. I bet their inboxes overflow this summer. An orchestrated campaign has already started to harass teachers and board members with a flood of emails and calls.

That wheel's gonna squeak like never before and we'll see if anybody tries to grease it. I know Board Member Peters is pretty obliging to the HCC crowd and has one or two kids in the program, so she'll be besieged.

I also heard that money is being collected for a lawsuit.

Good grief

Anonymous said...

@sleeper,

Maybe you could expound with examples, with data, not anecdotes.

Plus the word "optics" is a racial dog-whistle word. If you didn't intend that, I would rephrase.

Anonymous said...


Still waiting for what the harm is in gen ed kids being in a gen ed class, Choice. Historically I do know what the harm is in trying to teach a HC kid in a gen ed class and the vast majority of research shows it does not work.


-sps parent

Maureen said...

I had to go back and track through the use of "connections" in this thread. It started when Union Street said: Too many kids are getting hurt by a system that shows bias towards the well-connected and less poor.

I would argue, that "connections" here doesn't have to mean you have lunch with Bill Gates and he gets your kid into HCC. It could mean you were at a co-op preschool where everyone compared the different schools and held parent info sessions on how to apply and all told each other what the deadline for HCC testing was (me). It's being surrounded by people who help you find out what the options are for a bright kid. At TOPS (for awhile at least) there was this small scale pipeline of kids who had been at the Denise Louie Center on Beacon Hill for preschool. The families weren't "connected" to money or fame, but they knew from their social network that TOPS was a good school that they could apply to get in to.

Anonymous said...

Optics is not a racial dog whistle word. It is descriptive about the optics of the racial make up of the classes, and implies little but the way things look are better when the change is made. I'm looking at it used in this way in Ta Nahesi Coates Between the World and Me at this actual second, so I think I'll keep my phrasing. Maybe you could read some more racially sensitive authors, and you will understand the concept better.

Spectrum is a good example. And the required AP Geography class at Roosevelt.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Nehesi, not Nahesi! It's a really good book, and I highly recommend it to all the language scolds out there, and anyone interested in racial politics. But you'd need the actual author name to find it.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Maureen but considering they think gen ed kids being taught in gen ed classes I think I would hold to my line of thought which is they believe that the program was designed for well-connected and rich kids; not for high achieving, high IQ kids. I know many not well-connected and not rich families in the program. Sorry...

-sps Parent

Lynn said...

Capitol Hill Parent,

Why are they adamantly refusing to provide evidence that this would increase academic achievement, a description of the training they've received in differentiation or a description of the specific differentiation they'll provide in the classroom?

It's unacceptable to force parents to give an unproved program a chance in high school where academic achievement matters. You can't get a year of high school learning opportunity back if it doesn't work. And it won't work - every HC student started out in blended classrooms. If they'd worked kids would be attending their neighborhood schools.

Maureen said...

Cutting and pasting a comment I made on the SSS blog that, sort of, addresses the issue of why Gen Ed classes can be not optimal for kids who haven't tested into HCC:

I think part of it is the way kids limit themselves. Even if they do very well in a Gen Ed class, they still might not believe that they are prepared to go into an Honors or AP class the next year. (it also takes one more year to get there.) If the default is for them to be in the classroom with all sorts of students they can judge their chances based on experience not self stereotypes. People keep talking about those kids being "demoralized" by having to be in the same class as the HCC students, but it may be that they find out that they are perfectly able to compete with those kids.

There is also the issue of smart kids from certain backgrounds who wouldn't volunteer to take an Honors course because of (negative) peer pressure, even though they are perfectly capable. Being forced to gets rid of that stigma and might get more kids through that awkward age where their peers are everything with their future options intact.

I get that this is frustrating for the HCC parents especially since SPS keeps pretending like they offer some sort of program for the kids who test in, but I do think it's a better option than just signing up every sophomore at GHS for AP Human Geography and every junior for AP Lit. Seems like that would be even more frustrating.

I do wish the teachers would weigh in with more background and be explicit about how they plan to differentiate.

(sleeper, my kid is reading that book to discuss with her freshman college class, I'll have to read it when she is finished.)

Anonymous said...

oops

Perhaps Maureen but considering they think gen ed kids being taught in gen ed classes is harmful. I think I will hold to my line of thought which is they believe that the program was designed for well-connected, rich kids; not for high achieving, high IQ kids. I know many not well-connected and not rich families in the program. In fact most of the well connected rich kids I know got to private schools. Sorry...

-sps Parent

Anonymous said...

Maureen got it right, who in their right mind thinks Bill Gates can get your kid in HCC?

@sleeper, you admit the word "optics" refers to the skin color of students but deny it is a dog-whistle? Huh?

And talk about loaded language, "a word scold"?

scold
skōld/

noun: scold; plural noun: scolds

1.
a woman who nags or grumbles constantly.
synonyms: nag, shrew, fishwife, harpy, termagant, harridan; More
complainer, moaner, grumbler;
informalkvetch
"she is turning into a scold"

you just called me nagging woman

very, very sexist

wordy rappinghood

Anonymous said...

Would this issue even have been daylighted if not for the Seattle Times article about Ted Howard and Garfield? He mentioned it there, and apart from the PTSA being aware of the change in LA and History classes, has this information been communicated to the GHS community? Very curious that the article with this bombshell would run the weekend after school is out for the summer. What was the intention here?

Union Street said...

Well connected could mean many things, but I meant it like Maureen wrote. Connected to the knowledge of how the system operates. Connected to the people who know how the system works, to people who know how to get the private test results needed for HC.

Connections that make one aware of test prep, yes, there is CogAt test prep.

Maybe we should say "privilege"?

Anonymous said...

A dog whistle is when you try to use language coded which about race but try to pretend you are not trying to talk about race. I am trying to openly talk about race. The whole point of this move at GHS is to make the classes more racially integrated. I don't think that's worth it, and the word to describe why is "optics." It only looks better. It actually is worse. We have to use words about race to talk about race.

Maureen, I think denying appropriate classes to kids who actually need advanced material is a poor way to convince other students who might need it to join later- in this case or in the case of requiring everybody to take the same AP class. Goes at it too sideways. But I come at this from thinking the classes are already to easy for HCC students. If it's too easy for gen ed students, too, make it harder for everyone. But don't act like everyone is actually in the same place.

You should check out the book. It's very short. I am reading it for a second time with my middle schooler. I'll probably want them to read it again when they can take more in, but it's a great introduction, and easy to read (if not digest).

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

No, I am suggesting calling "optics" a racial dog whistle word is an action associated with being a person who criticizes others in an angry way(subtext here is unjustified, because, as seems obvious to me, I am not trying to secretly talk about race and really talk about something else. I am trying to actually talk about race.), more like this definition, which I also found on the internet:

2 scold /ˈskoʊld/ noun
plural scolds
Learner's definition of SCOLD
[count]
: a person who often criticizes other people in an angry way : someone who scolds other people too often
He can be a bit of a scold sometimes.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

Yeah you meant privileged/well-connected and not high IQ; and yeah you meant rich and not high academic performance. And you meant gen ed classes were harmful. And yet to all those claims the best you can do is talk about some test to cheat your way in without any real data on if such a test would help or if it is even being used. I wouldn't have as I would rather my kid the education they need verses being bused across town for one they didn't.

harm caused by gen ed classes Union? You have claimed there are multiple but have not mentioned one. I guess that is your MO though. False claims and multiple accounts.

choose a moniker or delete your account. How about -MC

-sps parent

Benjamin Leis said...

Moderator note:
I realize this is an emotional issue for many but please let's not get distracted calling each other names and stick to discussing the issue.

Anonymous said...

So sleeper, you think this action at Garfield is about skin tone, I gather.

You are truly claiming that Mr Howard cares only about having white kids next to dark skinned kids?

That's pretty cynical, if that's what you're saying.

"The whole point of this move at GHS is to make the classes more racially integrated. I don't think that's worth it, and the word to describe why is "optics." It only looks better. It actually is worse. We have to use words about race to talk about race."

And I'm pretty sure that's what you said. "It only looks better."

Anonymous said...

I think that is the problem Mr. Howard is trying to solve- that advanced classes are mostly white(and Asian, but as always we whitewash Asians here), and gen Ed/remedial is black and Hispanic. It is a big problem. I think abolishing honors classes will look more integrated- when you walk down the hallways, the racial schisms in our city will be less obvious to the naked eye.

But it will actually not be a better education for the students. The advanced students will just not get an appropriate education at all. The kids behind will get a little less. The kids in the middle will get about the same. I don't believe less education for advanced students at the designated school for advanced students will help there actually be less racism. I think there are other ways to do that, but they often cost money and almost never start with offering less education to one group of students.

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

@ maureen, I'm curious about something you wrote: I get that this is frustrating for the HCC parents especially since SPS keeps pretending like they offer some sort of program for the kids who test in, but I do think it's a better option than just signing up every sophomore at GHS for AP Human Geography and every junior for AP Lit. Seems like that would be even more frustrating.

Why is this a better option and why would those classes be even more frustrating? Do you mean because they'd actually be advanced classes, as opposed to the current plan in which Garfield will provide "honors" classes that are advanced in name only? I'm not sure how that's better. At least with the AP classes the kids would get exposed to a challenging curriculum.

Will these classes do anything to better prepare students for actual honors classes the next year, or is all about psychology--making them think of themselves as honors students in hopes that that sticks? I have a feeling high school students are smarter than that. My kids figured out early on that when everyone got a trophy, the trophies weren't that meaningful. Students will see that they are not all at the same level, and they will realize the honors designation is a farce. It also probably won't have a big impact on who decides to pursue honors vs. gen ed courses the following year.

If it's really such a big problem at GHS that bright students are self-selecting into GE classes instead of honors courses, why not work with their 9th grade teachers to identify those kids and push them into honors classes for 10th grade? It would be the same effect for them, since they'll still be getting a year of GE level classes (fake honors) and then honors classes in 10th, and it wouldn't negatively impact those who are already ready for honors (or beyond) in 9th.

Then again, I note that this WILL reduce racial disparities somewhat. If everyone takes the fake honors version, GPAs will be that much closer in the end, since the "bonus" points will apply to all. Maybe that's the point? To lower the ceiling for high achieving students?

HF

Anonymous said...

I think that is the problem Mr. Howard is trying to solve- that advanced classes are mostly white(and Asian, but as always we whitewash Asians here), and gen Ed/remedial is black and Hispanic. It is a big problem. I think abolishing honors classes will look more integrated- when you walk down the hallways, the racial schisms in our city will be less obvious to the naked eye.

But it will actually not be a better education for the students. The advanced students will just not get an appropriate education at all. The kids behind will get a little less. The kids in the middle will get about the same. I don't believe less education for advanced students at the designated school for advanced students will help there actually be less racism. I think there are other ways to do that, but they often cost money and almost never start with offering less education to one group of students.

Ditto what sleeper said.

HF

Anonymous said...

A few notes on LA from a family with a now-Senior at Garfield:

The LA teachers at Garfield, with the exception of, I believe, two stellar teachers, are universally under-performing and ill-equipped to teach English, at any level.

In a Sophomore LA Honors class reading "The Kite Runner," (this was a self-selected course for anyone, most HCC student chose to take it, 2014-2015), one of the big-point assignments was to *make* *a* *kite*. Yes, you read that correctly, the culminating assignment for the class was an elementary-level crafty project involving kite construction. This teacher is still teaching away at Garfield, and has a 2 star rating on Rate-My-Teacher.

A freshman LA course involved creating a "graphic novel" inspired by various contemporary exemplars, including "Diary of a Part-Time Indian" and "American Born Chinese." Way more time "drawing" than writing, thinking, or conceptualizing.

If you expect your student to learn writing skills, critical reading skills, research paper prep, etc., i.e., actual college prep instruction your student will need in college, you will not get it at Garfield, regardless of the course label, unless you are lucky enough to get the one or two teachers who actually teach this. And remember you are not able to request a specific teacher, and you are not able to change teachers, no matter what.

The designation of "honors" or "AP" can be important on transcripts to demonstrate your student took the most difficult available courses. But the content.... regardless of the make-up of the student population in the class, the teaching skill just isn't there.

Support your community colleges, and consider Running Start. Your student will actually learn something in community college courses. It is unfortunate that the underfunded community college system is having to take on the role of educating high school students, but that is the reality. If you want your student to be prepared for college reading and writing, truly, community college is your best option.

Good luck -

Maureen said...

HF, Here is some of my thinking in no particular order:

(1)Under the assumption that AP classes at GHS are actually taught at a college level and that 9th grade Honors classes are taught at a 9th grade Honors level (i.e., a High School level that would be lower than a college level), the gap between a Gen Ed level and the course material and expectations would be smaller so more kids could be successful (and fewer disruptive).

(2)Actually covering the AP syllabus is more important than covering the 9th grade syllabus would be since students are hoping to do well on the AP test (either for credit or for college placement) plus you have to pay to test.

(3)There is less of a point of dumping an 11th grader into AP Lit since you only have one more year to benefit from that student doing advanced work. If you do it when they are a 9th grader you have three years to benefit.

(4) 9th grade is more of a hormone stew of mindlessness even for Advanced Learners, so if you are going to spend a year with less than scintillating classroom discussion you are better off doing it that year than in 10th or 11th grade.

(5) It's harder for a teacher to differentiate (go off track depending on the varied levels of the kids in the class) with an AP class since the syllabus is so standardized.

(6) (Here's a practical one) How many teachers in the department are really qualified to teach AP or IB? Tons would have to be if every kid was taking an AP class.

I could probably come up with more.....

Note that I'm not actually saying it's a fabulous idea to dump all of the 9th graders into one version of the class and call it Honors. Somewhere on one of these threads I said that I would stick all of the Honors kids into large classes and the Gen Ed kids into small ones and then try to get them up to speed to have many more of them take Honors and then AP in 10th grade and up. I just think it's better to do what GHS is proposing in 9th grade than to do what the other three schools are doing with actual college level classes in 10th and 11th grades.

Anonymous said...

Who decides who is white and the reporter, Ted Howard and others can figure out ethnicity & heritage by looking at people? My darker skinned relatives check "white" on the racial box, but are darker skinned than many who identify as Latino. I am from the East coast where we have many people of caucasian descent (Sicilian, Greek, Maltese, N African, Turkish, Spanish, Syrian, Middle Eastern etc.) with dark skin. Many of those same countries also have people with lighter skin. The "white" category is a messy one and trying to lump people together as sharing identical commonalities is problematic.
JT

Anonymous said...

Good Luck,

Did your child have the 10th grade teacher who requires them to illustrate vocabulary words each week? Mine did. If you already know all the words she's got - too bad. She has to have something to grade - whether the student is learning or not.

My child participated in some excellent summer writing camps and classes and found those enjoyable and helpful.

Anonymous said...

Good Luck,

I'm so glad we decided not to go to Garfield. Roosevelt has been outstanding college prep work and haven't had bad teacher yet. There is still some poster work, mainly as freshpeople, but my kids like to draw and with musical kids, there no room for art at school anyways. The drawing frequently is for group projects, which are often dissed by parents, but I've found to invaluable in teaching communication skills, or they've been assigned to make books and pamphlets.

As I said, it's the only art my kids ever get to do at school and they love it. It's a good break from just book work.

Mary D,

Anonymous said...

Alas, not every bright star is a wordsmith. I have to say my kid likes the graphic/drawing assignment. For some kids who are challenged by writing, but able to express their ideas in visual terms, it's an opportunity to demonstrate that strength. This can be done for math/ science subjects too. My kid used origami to demonstrate a geometry project. I didn't really get it, but after have it shown to me visually, it made more sense. To some this might be a lazy a** way of teaching, but these teachers have seen thousands of students through their career and yeah, they have a trick or two to pull students through the mill, including the odd duck.

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Anonymous said...

The vocabulary assignments consisted of choosing maybe 10 words a week from the list assigned to each student by the teacher. (This was a nice touch - but my child really, truly knew all the words on the most difficult list offered.)

1. Write the definition
2. List the language from which the word was derived
3. List synonyms
4. List antonyms
5. Use the word in a sentence
6. Illustrate the word

This was 10th grade honors English. My child is artistic too - but this was not a way to express herself or demonstrate her learning through art. This was useless busywork and it was assigned in a class where every student could read on grade level.

Mama Bulldog said...

Mr. Howard's original intention stated in the article was to "cut Honors" classes, which seems at least honest. The latest idea to rebrand blended classes as "all Honors" feels like an easy way to get around a requirement to meet the needs of Advanced Learners while in reality still cutting Honors.

If, on the other hand, the new plan truly is to teach classes at a Honors level for students of all levels of ability, that doesn't serve the needs of kids at any level. In fact, the ones who would suffer the most would be those who would be struggling to keep up under an excessive amount of academic pressure. No one can learn optimally in a class which is paced at too high a level. Or if, based on others' comments, Garfield was never teaching 9th grade English and History at an Honors level all along, then perhaps retitling these classes "Inclusion English" and "Inclusion History" might be more accurate.

I have a Ph.D. in English, and am dismayed by the assumption that humanities classes (English, History) are academically less legitimate than subjects like math and science so can easily be opened up to all levels. English (and, presumably History) is a subject with its own academic rigor, high standards and serious skills. No one would seriously suggest that from now on all 9th graders should be in Honors Algebra II and Honors Chemistry for the sake of racial inclusion.

It is interesting that the claim is this change was initiated by the teachers. More dialogue with and clarification from them would be enormously helpful. Teaching English literature and composition at the undergraduate level for me did not validate the pedagogical merit of combining students with wide differences in preparation and ability. So is the motivation indeed extra- or non-pedagogical?

In the interest of disclosure, I am not white but my child is in HCC. And I am well aware of the long and terrible history of segregation and ongoing systematic discrimination in this country, but sacrificing the education of children in the name of addressing it seems wasteful and misguided at the very least. We need to direct our energies to dealing with general social inequalities in much more effective ways. And meaningfully address educational gaps through direct methods such as tutoring, mentoring, increased support, etc. Racial discrimination is a commonplace and everyday reality for me but I don't believe that throwing out the educational baby with the discriminatory bathwater helps anyone.

Mama Bulldog said...

An example from my own life comes to mind.

I don't get enough exercise so I wanted to improve that and joined a weekly "moms walking group." All the other women were incredibly fit and obviously spent a lot of time in the gym working out. They sped ahead of me and easily climbed steep Seattle neighborhood hills that left me panting several blocks behind. It didn't seem right to ask them to wait. This experience did not help me become more fit, but instead made me embarrassed, bad about myself and discouraged so I dropped out after a couple of tries.

I then found a different group of women much more at my own level of fitness and have been happily walking with them every week for many years. And as a result have gotten much stronger, confident and good at exercise.

In order to move people forward, you have to meet them where they're at first.

Anonymous said...

Since you brought it up, perhaps could you tell us how high school was for you as a non-white, mama bulldog? Without being uncomfortably specific, of course. That would be much appreciated.

Lynn said...

Mama Bulldog,

This was posted on Facebook in response to a discussion of the proposed change:

Hey, everyone, I teach English at Garfield. All of you have misrepresented the new blended ability ninth grade English classes. Please be careful before you poop negativity on ideas you don't know anything about. I have taught AP and other English classes at Garfield for 18 years. Back in the 1990s, we had blended ability ninth grade, and it was no harder to teach than any other English class. Yes, as English teachers we are given more work than we could possibly ever do. Tracked ninth grade classes don't decrease that load--they just increase institutional racism. And it's racist to assume that all of the students not currently enrolled in honors read "at a fifth grade level." Stop assuming that the kids enrolled in honors ninth grade are inherently "better" than the other kids--they are not. Maybe one kid "can't read" another kid's paper because it's shockingly unclear. Yes, we need direct reading instruction programs for the kids reading far below grade level--and good luck getting funding for effective programs. Aside from that, most of the kids should take ninth grade English together. The APP apparatheid (sic) stops when they enter our doors. It won't hurt the fragile products of APP to go to class with their brothers and sisters--who, despite some of your assertions, are equally gifted even if they haven't been in APP. The ninth grade English teachers are working hard and carefully (and far beyond what they get paid) to make this a success. They don't need obnoxious elitist unconscious racists dooming them to failure before they have a chance to begin.

There's no reason to assume the teachers at Garfield are approaching this thoughtfully and advocating for change for educational reasons.

Anonymous said...


Garfield teachers spearheaded the MAP protest. They are a politically progressive bunch. Why do you think they would continue to put up with such blatant injustice and segregation by SES/race (they overlap) in their building?




Anonymous said...

You are imagining things.

Anonymous said...

@Lynn,

From the FB post you cite - "The ninth grade English teachers are working hard and carefully (and far beyond what they get paid) to make this a success. They don't need obnoxious elitist unconscious racists dooming them to failure before they have a chance to begin."

This comment is quite important and perceptive. Your reply that "There's no reason to assume the teachers at Garfield are approaching this thoughtfully and advocating for change for educational reasons" is incredibly dismissive and insulting and really only increases the level of animosity here. I hope that this arrogant attitude - which appears to be shared by others here as well - doesn't infect your kids.

There are lots of ways to hamper and disrupt learning in the classroom and elitist and privileged attitudes are just two of the ways in which classroom learning and respect for faculty is undercut. -Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

@9:34, my comment wasn't directed at you.

To clarify my point. Some kids are good writers. They love it. Others may pull more toward the math. Or music. Or science. Some kids struggle with more mathy subjects while others love to debate and are articulate in oral and written cominication. Teachers get all sorts and providing different outlets for students to demonstrate their interest and talents can be challenging. I doubt by asking for a visual demonstration of a word means they don't care about students writing well. It's not one or the other.

Teachers are trying to teach all kinds of learners while trying to motivate and engage them. It's not going to be a perfect fit all the time. There are times when kids will be bored. I know mine was with math at times. That subject is where this kid shined and being a visual-spatial type, there are some challenges for these learners when much of our curriculum is sequential in design. It was a teacher who pointed this out. There are quite a few students like this and they are everywhere. Teachers are trying to meet each student where they are. It might take different methods which may or may not work with every child.

Just as HCC students don't come in one type, neither are the non-HCC. As students enter upper grades, I see that there are some who are wonderful, even gifted writer and thinker, but struggle with Algebra 2. The reverse is also true. I value not just subject learning and mastery, but the exchange of ideas, the confluence where individuals can come from different places and learn from each other from where they are at. It may very well take them to a better understanding about themselves and others beyond who's good in differential calc or a gifted writer. I'm not a social justice or even a progressive type. But in life, I and my kid have been bested by many who are far less educated on paper. We've been out thought, out argued, and outplayed in strategy and accomplishment. We learned from so many- including the posters here :)

It's a ballsy move. And probably will fail from reading the sentiments here. I'll keep an open mind.

APIWATW

Anonymous said...

If, as some are suggesting here, students will benefit from every 9th grader being placed in "honors" classes, then let's apply this thinking to other areas.

Starting next year, no more varsity sports. All interested kids will be on the "varsity" team. This won't hurt outcomes because those who are not at the same level will improve just by being placed on the varsity team.

Starting next year, all interested students will be allowed in GHS' jazz band. Those with less experience will improve just by being near those who have been playing for years.

-spade

Anonymous said...

Where exactly is that FB post because that teacher's comments are inexcusable and I agree completely with Lynn. This is not an education thing! Is it too much to expect that teachers teach? The ignorance contained in that one post makes me very concerned.

I saw all races at the LGBTQ, black lives matter and SBAC "protest." But color of ones skin should never be a criterion of where you stand*, what class you get in, what school you go to or if you are the starting QB. FRL and ELL you bet.

*I have talked to many GHS students and none knew about the racial segregated places to stand.

-sps parent

Lynn said...

Why not really think outside the box? There is no reason to segregate students by age - they should be randomly assigned to English classes across grade levels. Everyone has something to learn from their classmates. /s

sps parent it was posted in Soup for Teachers. It's not just ignorance in her post - it's hatred.

Anonymous said...

The contempt for gifted kids in this city never ceases to amaze me. We now have teachers publicly mocking 14- and 15-year old students, but it's okay because it's in the name of dismantling institutional racism, right?! Wow, just wow.

I guess this is one way for Garfield to handle its over-crowding. Make the school unwelcoming and unsafe for kids whose IQs and cognitive abilities are outside the norm so that they'll choose to go elsewhere. Why would any APP kid feel welcome and comfortable in this teacher's class now?

Disgusted

Anonymous said...

Lynn do you have a link?

SPS Parent

Anonymous said...

https://m.facebook.com/soupforteachers/

It's a closed group but there are over 3,000 members and requests to join are approved quickly.

Anonymous said...

Disgusted-

My favorite part of the teacher's post is where s/he suggests that those who don't like this "plan" are racists. Way to unite all groups!!!

It's not just contempt in Seattle. Look at those who have run, or who are running now, for president. There is a large segment of the population who see intelligence as a negative.

i also like that we are told to appreciate the gifts of all kids, except those for whom learning comes more easily.

-rambo

Anonymous said...

So that poster couldn't be anonymous right? Could someone please share their name. And is soup for teachers really letting such post ooze in?

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

Nope, not anonymous, but please keep the discussion about the content, and not use this forum to "out" the teacher.

Anonymous said...

why? they stand by their post clearly. this is not outing it is just sharing what the person clearly views. Could someone please share their entire post including name.

Anonymous said...

Yeah exactly! I am going back to ignorant Lynn. To sign that hate has a lot to say about the understanding the person holds.

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

When I read the level of animosity directed toward ALL HCC children (e.g. "fragile products of APP") from a TEACHER (!) in that Facebook post, I agree we need to know who wrote it.

- NEM



Anonymous said...

I really wonder if it is real. APP is not used anymore right? Can someone please post the post. It is probably NOT a real teacher! But one of the many HCC detractors.

-IPPAPPHCC

Benjamin Leis said...

Soup for Teachers is a big facebook group full of parents. Anything posted there is under your real identity and fair game for the public domain. They also will almost certainly approve anyone to join if you want to read the original message. This is a borderline case, but I would prefer that anyone do that rather than post any names here. https://www.facebook.com/groups/SoupForTeachers/
Thanks

Anonymous said...

They have been teaching at GHS for 18 years and have been referring to the program as APP for most of those years. For those of us not on Facebook it would be illuminating to know the name of the teacher. It's already out there, just not accessible to those of us not on Facebook. Please allow the name to be posted here!

Maureen said...

APP is not used anymore right? "HCC" is really a new usage, the kids at Garfield now are the products of APP.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I would imagine the teachers are not following the changing acronyms for the gifted program closely. If it's been called APP for the bulk of your 18 years of teaching I can understand a teacher continuing to call it APP. I know people who still refer to Macy's as The Bon!

Anonymous said...

Thanks 12:11pm. That is a real teacher in the GHS LA department.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Well if you are going to degenerate a whole group of kids you should at least know what that group is called. I am shocked and now more than concerned. This is a culture of hate and her comments are the smoking gun to what must be the undercurrent throughout the building. This is a teacher that teaches english to sps kids. I feel like I am going to barf.

SusanH said...

I keep going back to the analogy someone made earlier in this thread: how about we then get rid of varsity sports? Or let anyone be in the Jazz band? High school is not the place to try to make everyone equal in every area. That time was elementary school. By high school, students are discovering their talents and pursuing them competitively. Whether it's sports, or music, or art, or science.

Maureen said...

Well, 12:29, if you are going to denigrate a whole group of educational professionals you should at least use the correct word. Though disparage might have been a more politic word to use in this situation especially. I'm headed back to the SSS blog.

Anonymous said...

hum

Anonymous said...

Comparisons Matter!

The structure of sports requires the best team possible to compete.

The structure of music requires a sufficiently skilled group to create any music at all.

LA and History require attendance and appropriate behavior.


Rachel said...

While I had to mentally adjust to this change, I am supportive of principal Howard and the teachers reco. When my son was 1st eligible for HCC (then APP), we visited Thurgood Marshall and we were pleased that he would experience more diversity than in his neighborhood school. Than at the end of his 1st school year, I remember sitting down to look at his yearbook. The stark difference in racial makeup between the APP class and the General classes made me wonder what message we were sending him.

Washington - an amazing academic experience -- was the same two schools within a school experience, and Garfield is said to be more of the same.

To have a multitude of diverse views and experiences in LA and History will make the conversation and learning richer for all. I'm willing to put in one year to see what my son learns and how his understanding is expanded.

There are schools succeeding at this approach. The affluent, Ivy-feeder Concord-Carlisle HS near Boston does this and has had great results. Let's not just dismiss it. What if HCC parents didn't make the stink the school expects us to make, which makes us all seem very precious? What if we simply said, "hey, sounds interesting, you have our support. In a few months, could you share with ALL parents the KPIs and tripwires that will help determine the approach's success along the way?"

I am excited for my son to have the Garfield experience and I need to think about how I'll let him know honors has changed in a way that makes it no big deal. Because really in the grand scheme of what is going on in the world, this is no big deal and it may even benefit our quirky HCC kids.

Anonymous said...

Rachel-

You do know that GHS will not reverse this decision, don't you? They can't "share with ALL parents the KPIs and tripwires that will help determine the approach's success along the way?" Doing so would mean they might have to admit failure and say that this idea isn't working like they thought it might. Since they won't reverse the decision, there is no point in tracking progress.

This is just another step in the district dismantling the program.

-realist

Anonymous said...

Rachel above mentioned Concord HS in Boston. I know zero about this school, but I did look at their website and it doesn't seem to fit with what Rachel said above.

"It is the strong recommendation of the English teachers that a student not take a class that will add undue stress to a Ninth Grade year already filled with change, challenge, and excitement. We expect students and parents to make a decision that will offer the most stability and support, as well as academic rigor, for a first year high school student. We strongly recommend reviewing the two self-evaluation forms below.
Self-Evaluation Questionnaire
Time Management Sheet"

http://www.concordcarlisle.net/english/freshman_english/

It sounds like there are several levels of English classes, not one for all, no matter their experience. It sounds like they want kids and parents to choose the class that best fits their kid.

I wish GHS would do the same.

-heron

Lynn said...

Rachel,

I wonder if you can explain why your child did not attend their neighborhood schools. He would have had full access to blended classrooms and the benefits of a multitude of diverse experiences to enrich his learning. Did you find that differentiation in the classroom was not sufficient to meet your child's academic needs? As you don't have direct experience at Garfield, you might not realize that the teachers there are no different than teachers anywhere else. They don't receive special training or support to allow them to differentiate instruction for their students. (Did you see the staff climate survey I posted?)

As realist noted, this is not a trial. This is not a recommendation by the teachers. There are no plans to measure the success of the blended classes. The goal is to create classes that don't look like your child's elementary yearbook photos and that will be accomplished on day one. No further monitoring will be necessary.

If after one year you decide this isn't right for your child, what are you going to do? It's quite likely they'll make the same change for tenth grade the next year. Will you return to your neighborhood school?

Mama Bulldog said...

Teaching is a grueling and thankless task so conversations with teachers should be constructive. There is a real grievance behind that level of resentment after 18 years on the job that we need to understand.

Is the teacher saying that "Honors" is a code word for "white," and there is otherwise no substantive difference between Honors and non-Honors? And kids self-segregate into white and non-white classes which have identical educational content? That speaks to a much bigger and more long-term problem. APP kids in the past and HCC kids haven't been getting the acceleration they need. And classes have been organized by race (by students and their families, mind you, not by the school, as that would be much too blatant, and illegal).

If this is true, "All Honors" is a fix of sorts, but not a true fix. As I've stated before, English (and History) are real disciplines which require more than just attendance and attitude. The study of complex texts, nuances of language, important historical events, social issues, and on and on, are critical for students as well as citizens. If Garfield hasn't been providing adequate Humanities education, it needs to. And deep, complex inequalities that make kids and families of color not opt for Honors should be addressed directly much earlier than high school at all schools, not just those that are HCC sites by happenstance. I know the Advanced Learning Office is trying very hard to test and identify HCC candidates among students of color for instance. I would lend my time and energies wholeheartedly to such efforts. These fixes are not a quick-fix bandaid like "All Honors" but are hard and ambitious because the underlying problems run deep. But they will truly help.

I don't think anyone on this blog has expressed or feels "I don't like this change because I don't want my kids in class with black kids." It's all about appropriate levels of education. I love the fact that Garfield is a richer community because of diversity. When I was in high school as a non-white honors student I often felt uncomfortable and excluded socially, however, I never thought the excellence of my education should be determined by racial factors. That's the beautiful thing about true education, considered in the ideal sense.

Rachel said...

Lynn, my son was in an advanced class at his local elementary school when we moved him. Our local elementary school is not diverse, our high school however is. So the real question is why we wouldn't have him go to our local HS vs Garfield? And yes, you're right that to me, Garfield has been the holy grail of public schools with great academics and extracurriculars and I've been grateful that my kid has been on the path in. He identifies with Garfield -- more than the academics, also the music and his sport of choice -- and there is no way I could entice him back to our local HS even if I wanted to.

I have been uneasy too long about the two schools within a school and I think a diverse social / racial / socioeconomic / ethnicity pov is important in learning history and literature so I'm willing to take a leap of faith in 9th grade on him getting both a broader perspective and academic rigor in these two classes. If I'm wrong, then yes we'll need to come up with plan b.

Heron, my apologies if that info is incorrect. My father has been in education in Oakland all his life and many of my public ed views are inherited. He believes that history in particular should be one class for all. He just retired from being the Whitman College recruiter for New England and shared that example with me but I didn't verify for myself.

Anonymous said...

Rachel,

I am not willing to take this leap of faith with you. As your child has access to the blended academic classes you desire in your neighborhood high school, it seems more equitable for you to send him there than to advocate for reducing my child's academic opportunities. You don't have to entice him - you can go right down to the JSCEE and request a transfer. He doesn't have to sign off on it. Send him to the school that provides the appropriate academics instead of advocating for changes to the school with his preferred music program and sport of choice. You might look up the services he has a right to as a highly capable student. They do not include music and sports.

Rachel said...

Ha! Funny. No thank you, my kid will be right next to yours and ideally they will have learned that it's ok to have different opinions and still treat each other with respect.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, can I play devil's advocate? You hit the nail on the hit. Why shouldn't your kid go to the neighborhood school then? It has the racial/SES diversity you value, but you say that Garfield has other things he wants too, like music and sports. There are probably general ed kids in your neighborhood who might prefer Garfield too but they don't have that option. So why do you? How do you justify it when Garfield is intentionally dismantling the accelerated program?

As the parent of an outlier kid that didn't thrive in the neighborhood school, APP/HCC has been a godsend, the only thing that made my kid feel normal and accepted socially. When a subset of parents are willing to sacrifice the cohort model though, it affects me and my kid very much. Of course my family wishes that HCC were more diverse, and I support the district working very hard to remedy that. But that's out of my direct control and something that will take time. And I have a kid to raise in the meantime. And that kid thinks differently 24 hours/day, 7 days a week. That's why things like pull-out models for gifted ed are less appropriate than full-time access to gifted ed. They aren't just gifted part of the time.

But what Garfield is doing is creating a pull-out model for high school. When my kid starts high school, it might be a 3x5 schedule, so 2 out of the 5 classes will be non-honors LA and history. That's a major change to a program being done by the school, not by the district, and it's in contrast to everything I've ever read about meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of high IQ children. So I do think parents have a right to have questions and concerns, and yes, even to be angry about the sleight of hand and stealth manner in which this is being done.

Unlikely future bulldog

Anonymous said...

Rachel,

I'm not joking. How selfish can you be? Advocating to remake Garfield's academic program into the model already available in your neighborhood so your child can play his sport of choice in the uniform he prefers is pretty extreme.

Have you considered the effect this will have on students who don't have a plan b? Probably not.

No, my child won't be sitting next to yours next year. Maybe our younger children will meet up in a private school classroom somewhere once all the gifted programs in the district have been dismantled for the sake of appearances.

Rachel said...

I thought it was acceptable for HCC parents to offer up different opinions on this string. Clearly I was wrong when the response is to pull my child out of the program - are we in middle school people? Do you need to reread the school rules on bullying?

My child will stay a bulldog but I won't stay participating on this blog because you don't want to consider different povs, you want to frenzy feed on one pov.

Anonymous said...

This teacher's disrespectful hate speech seems to roll off her lips quite comfortably. I would guess she doesn't even recognize that she is completely wrong and that she has shared such views with others in the building without rebuke. Is this what Howard is basing his policy change on? To be clear IMHO HCC is not representative of SPS or Seattle because of a lower percentage of FRL or ELL students. AL gives preferential treatment to these groups which makes sense and I applaud it as I would any way to add more inclusion of any high achieving/ high IQ kids in. But to diminishing HCC course work to end "appartheid" is ignorant malpractice and both Howard and this teacher have made serious errors here. And underpaid? She is making 10k a month with a pension I hardly think she is offering that much value to GHS.

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

Rachel-

There is lots of disagreement with you because it's a bad idea. The one poster should not have called you "selfish," but I would hardly call that bullying.

You haven't responded to realist who is correct in their belief that this decision WILL NOT be reversed not matter what happens. SPS does not admit failure and does not course correct on bad ideas. Since they don't track outcomes, it also won't be possible for them to know if it's working or not. This will be enough for them to state that it is working.

-not new here

Anonymous said...

Anon July 3, 2016 at 12:49 AM, that's absurd.

The structure of sports requires the best team possible to compete.
No, only if your goal is to win. To promote diversity and a sense of community, the team should be mixed ability, right?

The structure of music requires a sufficiently skilled group to create any music at all.
So a beginning band class can't play any music at all? Harsh...and wrong.

LA and History require attendance and appropriate behavior.
That's it? So are grades based purely on attendance an behavior? And by your logic, if I were to go sit in on my first grader's LA class--with perfect attendance and model behavior, I promise--I would dramatically improve my LA skills. I'm not buying it.

CrazyTalk

Maureen said...

You do know that GHS will not reverse this decision, don't you? .... Doing so would mean they might have to admit failure...

The article says that Howard dropped the "separate counselor for the Black male students" thing after a year because it wasn't successful.

Rachel, note that only a few posters here are using names (and even fewer are consistent identifiable posters) so please don't take the apparent pile on against you too seriously. You sound like a thoughtful person with an open mind. I wish you and your son an excellent four years in High School.

Alright, I couldn't stay away. I really may have a problem. This feels similar to watching a train wreck to me.

Benjamin Leis said...

@Rachel - Yes you and anyone else involved in HCC regardless of your stance on an issue are welcome here. We as a community are large enough that we do not always agree. I certainly have been in a minority position in the past myself.

3 Points for everyone:
* You don't need to respond back to every reply. I find that helps a lot myself. Its not necessary to have the last word and I like to only comment when adding something new.

* Its good to remember that the other parents commenting here do not control the program. So getting angry at them will not change the situation.

* Disagreements are healthy and normal. We will continue to have them. You can always stop reading the thread if its not useful anymore. I try my best to split topics by subject.

Lynn said...

The counseling experiment was deemed unsuccessful and dropped mid-year because a parent threatened to sue the district over it.

Anonymous said...

@ Rachel, I appreciate your thoughtful posts and open mind. - Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

Crazy Talk is equating HCC students taking LA in classrooms with gened students with an adult being in a first grade class.

Nice

The structure of high school sports is league play, and if a school doesn't try to win, they won't be in any league.

Beginning band requires instruction of playing an instrument and some proficiency, before a group can play any music.

9th graders of mixed ability studying LA or History can learn together, in the same room at the same time, even if some read poorly or don't speak or understand English well. Special ed kids can study LA and History with gened and HC kids as well.

Anonymous said...

Oh - are the teachers planning to use computer-based individualized instruction to meet the needs of all students in the same classroom? Or will they return to the learning centers and reading groups of elementary school?

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Just as you can choose to attack the HCC program, even while gaining benefit from it, even as it excludes children of low income and non-white/asian students."

That is categorically untrue. HCC is open to all and low-income students and their families get free private testing on appeal. And since when "asian" not a person of color? Does anybody think people with Asian backgrounds don't have many of their own experiences with racism? I find myself confused when they get put in with white students. Maybe someone who thinks this could explain it.

"Very curious that the article with this bombshell would run the weekend after school is out for the summer. What was the intention here?"

You have good radar. Why would the Times be running oddly timed stories about SPS (largely negative ones?) Because they are setting the tone, the pace for the Mayor to build up his storyline to take over the district. I'm not kidding. I'll lay money that there will be a bill next legislative session to allow the legislature to do this for a single district - Seattle. They may even attached it to McCleary funding. Want those McCleary dollars? Then agreed to put Seattle under the control of the mayor. (And there is almost no evidence that mayoral control does anything to improve academic outcomes AND parents almost uniformly complain that they have even less influence than they did with a school board.

"Racial discrimination is a commonplace and everyday reality for me but I don't believe that throwing out the educational baby with the discriminatory bathwater helps anyone."

That's a interesting and bold statement especially since the author says he/she is non-white.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 4:16 - use a name so that you can be responded to

"The structure of high school sports is league play, and if a school doesn't try to win, they won't be in any league.

Beginning band requires instruction of playing an instrument and some proficiency, before a group can play any music."

Should we care about sports teams being in a league, or the band being able to play music at the same level? If the primary goal of a school is inclusion, then the outcome does not matter. Sports teams not in a league can make all ability teams and just play games at their school. The band can play at school and not travel to competitions. The rest of the band can sit idle and wait until those new at their instruments catch up. It's all about inclusion, right?

-boring

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It is the low income that likely excludes them not the program. HCC has three primary criterion including academic achievement and teacher recommendation. One might argue these can be subjective and vary over time per individual; and are less likely to be qualifying in a low SES household. That is why AL give accommodations to the ELL and FRL households. Not the other way around as you suggest. Give me/us a break. Again, your life is so trouble free you have to make up problems that don't exist?

-Get real CT/MC

Anonymous said...

Why do HCC parents always want to pull down music and sports programs? Sure, they discriminate against the disabled and special ed students, and should really not be part of school, but it's the system we have in the US and until we have a better club sport system outside of schools and the same with music, we're stuck.

Just because your kids can't have everything you want for them, stop tearing down sports and music. Lots of HCC kids are in both programs,if you didn't know.

Izzy

Anonymous said...

no one is tearing anything down they are just using it to illustrate how wrong headed inclusion can be when over applied.

-chill

Anonymous said...


"Should we care about sports teams being in a league, or the band being able to play music at the same level?"

It's not about caring, that's the way the school district, and most school districts, set up music and sports. If you don't like it, @boring, try to change it. But don't rationalize one discriminating program by pointing out discrimination in two others.

Three wrongs don't make a right.

MM

Anonymous said...

Sports and music and the most special ed unfriendly areas of public education, here and everywhere. By definition they discriminate. By definition gifted programs discriminate.
All three should work towards more inclusion.

Carl

Anonymous said...

I'm all for increased inclusion in music , sports and advanced learning. They all hurt those kids left out, those kids told that they're not good enough.

Hippy

Anonymous said...

silly hippy, they are told they are good enough for gen ed that's all.

bs

Anonymous said...

BS,
the gened kids don't know there are honors classes and HC kids at Garfield?
How do they keep it secret?

Hippy

Anonymous said...

sorry hippy that should have read

silly hippy, they are told they are good enough for gen ed, but that's all?


bs

Anonymous said...

Anyone read this student essay in The Seattle Times a few days ago? It is by a student who went to her teachers saying the class was too easy for her. The teacher told her that wasn't the case. That there are ways for individuals in any class to go deeper or broader.

This, I believe, is the mindset of the Garfield staff, and the majority of staff in this district and beyond. They do not believe a self-contained classroom is necessary to challenge the vast majority of students, even if they are working at different levels. (I suppose child prodigy examples are not part of this thinking.) The idea that HC students can have their needs met at the same time that traditionally non-achieving segments of the population are given a stronger and higher bar is appealing. Especially when there is little money to try other solutions.

I note in the article the onus is on the student, not on the teacher, to provide the "differentiation" she found she needed. However, she did find it. I am not trying to argue this perspective, just supply the thinking of many professional educators, especially those in a building that seems particularly attuned to the ideals of social justice.

One parent

Thinking Twice said...

I think a good number of us would have thought twice about enrolling our kids at Garfield if we had know about this before Open Enrollment. It's not fair to make this change now.

What Next? said...

If we lose this fight and the district forces 9th grade HCC families to seek outside supplementation for instruction in Language Arts and History that they fail to provide, can anyone share good resources for tutoring, outside classes, and the like?

Here's one option posted on Save Seattle Schools:
How convenient that the UW Robinson Center is starting online classes:

https://robinsoncenter.uw.edu/programs/online-courses/

Anonymous said...

"traditionally non-achieving segments of the population"

Meaning...?

Anonymous said...

You know, everyone not in HCC....non-achieving. What??

Anonymous said...

Michael Christophersen - go cause trouble somewhere else.

Anonymous said...

What a strange tradition, achieving nothing. I too wonder what segments of the population are being referenced.

watson

Anonymous said...

One parent. Thanks for the article reference. My take away is this Walla Walla student found a much deeper appreciation for learning and learned much more when she took ownership and responsibility of her learning. It didn't mean her teacher and curriculum weren't relevant. But her effort and the sense that SHE controls her learning is the key to her success. She became far more self reliant and confident for it. It's a maturity process. Learning by doing, by teaching oneself, by inquiring, by investigating, by throwing in and living it-- that is possible to do at any age, anywhere, anyplace, anytime. At some point in HS, it's healthy for teens to develop this awareness.

Kudos to her - she'll do well at university and in life. I'm trying to impress my own fledgling who'll be leaving the nest soon of this same lesson. Take control. Be more independent. Look inward for self direction instead of always expecting to be given step by step instruction/ direction to follow. Create your own roadmap and how to get there.

tinker




Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, I was typing quickly earlier and did not mean to insult any group of students. By underachieving I meant that there are certain cross segments of students as defined by demographic data whose majority tend not to meet grade level standards as defined by state expectations of mastery or by national testing. (For what either of those is worth, which I sometimes think is not much.) I certainly did not mean any single individual in those groups does not achieve, nor that classroom achievement is not attainable, nor that achievement outside the classroom is not possible and important.

I also hope I haven't steered the discussion down a rabbit hole. The greater idea was that I thought the article reflected many educators' belief that highly capable students can and do have the material and the ability to go deep and or broad in classes that also contain students working on meeting, vs. surpassing, standards. I believe this is the belief of at least some of the Garfield staff. I imagine it is also the majority viewpoint of the district's upper management. Extrapolating, I do not think we HCC parents are going to get very far in the coming months trying to change Principal Howard's experiment for the coming year's freshmen.

Thank you tinker for reading the article and for your comments.

One parent

Lynn said...

Experiment? This is no temporary change.

I read the article too and wondered about our students who aren't the conveniently organized and self-directed paragons of responsiblity many teachers expect them to be. Are their needs considered in these secret plans? Don't get me wrong, my kid is still passionate about learning - just not necessarily for independent literary analysis. No, I remain convinced that teachers are obligated to instruct our students too - and to plan engaging, meaningful activities for them. That's what they're paid to do.

Anonymous said...

FWIW I've got an HC student headed to Garfield and am not upset about this change. He will have plenty to learn. As an HC student myself in high school most of my classes had a broad range of student profiles. In fact, the 2 classes that most-impacted me and made me reach academically were not honors or AP level. I think our kids are going to be fine and challenged if they wish to be.

Incoming

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that's very meaningful coming from someone with no experience at Garfield. Where and when did you go to high school? Did you have high school classmates who couldn't read?

Your child's English and history teachers will be focused on behavior management and on engaging students who are not interested in learning. They'll be doing less reading and writing than they did in middle school and the assigned reading will by necessity be much less complex. I expect they'll be reading aloud in class - a common tactic for teachers whose students won't read outside of class.

How long has it been since your child took a general education class in a core academic subject?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 8:46 am -
What a disparaging and cruel comment. Do you know this for a fact? Has your child attended classes with non-HCC kids? I can assure you that there are many non-HCC students at GHS just as committed to learning and excelling as yours. - Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

There are many bright, high achieving non-HCC students at Garfield. My child has obviously taken classes with them as there are no HCC-only classes. My child has also taken electives with students who talk loudly about what they plan to shoplift to get money for the weekend's pot purchase, who were removed from class for stealing the teacher's wallet, who curled up and slept on the floor during class, and who were loud and disruptive and made learning impossible.

The majority of students in blended classrooms won't behave like this but if three or four do, your child won't be engaged or learning or happy.

Anonymous said...

@ Incoming, what was your HC child's middle school experience like? Were they in HCC, a neighborhood school, or elsewhere? How was the level of challenge?

ex-HCC

Anonymous said...

Incoming-

The other question would be if you mean HC or HCC - they are different.

-??

Maureen said...

??

What is the difference?

Anonymous said...

HC - Highly Capable (a student)
HCC - Highly Capable Cohort (a group of HC students in a HC pathway school)

ABC

Twana said...

Why does Ballard have honors LA and History for 9th grade? I heard they moved from honors option to separate honors classes in those two subjects just a couple years ago.

What gives?

Maureen said...

Um, ok. Whatever. A distinction without a difference. (Unlike AP vs. APP.)

Because HC students belong to the HCC. If not, they are merely hc (or smart, brilliant, gifted, intellectually advanced... something, in other words, without a label with initial caps.)

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