Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Garfield Honors Classes getting cut Part II

The number of comments has grown to be unwieldy. So despite the lack of any further news this is part II of: http://discussapp.blogspot.com/2016/06/garfield-9th-grade-honors-classes.html

First: please avoid personal attacks and respect the diversity of opinions.

Secondly, I've been thinking about the issue and had a few questions/thoughts:

  • Honors classes vary wildly across the high schools. For instance Roosevelt has none in 9th grade and after that they are not separate but entail some additional requirements instead for the class. Ingraham, Ballard and West Seattle  have separate classes. Nathan Hale which follows the Coalition of Essential Schools also doesn't offer stand alone honors. A few like Franklin talk about an honors option but I don't have enough information to tell what that actually means although I suspect its similar to Nathan Hale. For those who have been in any of the other schools it would be interesting to hear your experiences.  I keep coming back to the idea that there should be a uniform policy of access in high school to the honors option and that there should also be a definition of what additional work or curriculum it involves.
  • I tend to think about these issues first and foremost through the lens of whether the classes are meeting the needs of the students. Its hard to predict before its been implemented but I'm curious for more feedback from those already there on reasons why or why not.  I should add that we veered a bit into a discussion of disruptive students. For me, these points are very problematic since moving all the hard to manage students into a separate track is known to produce lower quality classes. My hope is always that where we track, the tracks remain high quality at all levels and that there is some thought put into making sure that occurs. 
  • Finally, the process here has been dreadful which has I'm sure exacerbates the anxiety. Any instructional model changes should be communicated directly to the school community with adequate lead time. So if anyone hears additional information please post it.

Update:

This is via Alec Cooper the outgoing Garfield PTSA president  (presumably but not verified)

"Outgoing (now last year's) Garfield PTSA President here again. At our request, we met with Mr Howard and the teachers who are leading this initiative on Thursday of last week. We continued to reiterate that the way this was being done was hugely counterproductive. 

We suggested to the teachers that (as a compromise) they consider to pilot 1-2 sections next year, enabling a more comprehensive plan to be prepared, vetted by parents, questions asked, feedback given - all parents, not just the PTSA. We offered PTSA funding for curriculum development and professional development. We emphasized that we understood the challenges that the teachers were trying to address. 

No additional details were presented at the meeting, other than some of the teachers are planning to take some training. At the end of the meeting, the teacher who was leading the discussion simply told us that they were going ahead anyway. Afterwards, we received this mail 

"We realize there's lots of uncertainty about the planned 9th grade detracking, esp with the recent Times article that mis-characterizes our plan. We have a draft of a description of the plan, and would like to incorporate the questions you've already collected from parents. Then in a couple days we can send you a clear description that answers as many questions as we can, which hopefully you'll share with as many parents as you have access to via constant comment, etc. So please share the questions you've gotten, grouped as makes sense to you, or just as a raw list."

Apparently when they decided to do this, they didn't even have a draft of a plan to share. I also inquired whether the Advanced Learning Office Office had reviewed the plan, this was the reply i got:

"Garfield was the designated APP site for the district many years ago. Now every neighborhood school is providing AP courses for their neighborhood populations. To answer your question. Does Garfield need permission from Michael Tolley, School Board, or Sarah Pritchett to make Academia changes. The short answer to your question is NO. 

Lastly, there is no change for our advanced placement cohort or our students who want to challenge themselves at GHS by taking honor courses. The change is for our general ed population." 

Update 2:

Garfield HS PTSA
July 5, 2016
Dear Garfield Families,

Members of the PTSA met with Principal Howard and Language Arts/Social Studies (LA/SS) teachers last week to learn more about the proposed changes to the 9th grade LA/SS curriculum. We requested the meeting after The Seattle Times published an article about Ted Howard and Garfield that discussed the school's race and equity challenges. The article indicated that 9th grade LA/SS Honors was going to be cut.

Principal Howard and the teachers clarified that The Times story mischaracterized the LA/SS Honors change. In fact, the school plans to offer Honors curriculum to all 9th graders. There will no longer be two curricula tracks for LA/SS - regular and honors. Now, all students will take the LA/SS Honors curriculum and be held to the same standard: Honors for All. The PTSA, the school and the teachers feel this is an important change to demonstrate to a greater number of Garfield students that they can enroll, and take on the rigor of more challenging courses, and succeed in that environment.

The teaching staff are 100% committed to Honors for All and to its success. All of the teachers are certified and trained to teach Honors and to teach a wide range of learning styles. They voted unanimously to make this change and to supporting each other as a team.

The teachers explained they help initiate the change because it would hold all students to a similar standard and it will be a rich learning environment. Classroom discussions will be enriched with the new classroom composition and the teachers will introduce project-based learning, a nationally recognized teaching tool. It will enhance learning for all as students will have the opportunity for individualized learning and peer learning opportunities will grow.

The teachers acknowledged the challenges they will face and shared how they were preparing for them. It is a challenge to teach Honors to a broad spectrum of students. The LA/SS teaching teams have been preparing for several years: enrolling in courses to teach differentiated learning; researching the newest teaching methods; studying high schools that have already made this change. Principal Howard also announced a new reading class for students to improve their reading skills.

Principal Howard and the district are committed to supporting this change, and the PTSA will work with the school and the district to ensure its success. The PTSA is requesting that the teachers share their implementation plan for this change and communicate the plan to the community, and it will also request quarterly check-ins to learn how it is going and to identify where we can best support the students, teachers and classrooms.

In the short term, the PTSA has shared parent questions with the teachers, and next week the teachers plan to address the questions and share their implementation plan for LA/SS Honors for All. The PTSA will continue to invite feedback and update the community. We are committed to partnering with the school - One Garfield! - to deliver an excellent education to the entire student body.

Garfield HS PTSA Executive Board
Garfield HS PTSA

110 comments :

Anonymous said...

Outgoing (now last year's) Garfield PTSA President here again. At our request, we met with Mr Howard and the teachers who are leading this initiative on Thursday of last week. We continued to reiterate that the way this was being done was hugely counterproductive.

We suggested to the teachers that (as a compromise) they consider to pilot 1-2 sections next year, enabling a more comprehensive plan to be prepared, vetted by parents, questions asked, feedback given - all parents, not just the PTSA. We offered PTSA funding for curriculum development and professional development. We emphasized that we understood the challenges that the teachers were trying to address.

No additional details were presented at the meeting, other than some of the teachers are planning to take some training. At the end of the meeting, the teacher who was leading the discussion simply told us that they were going ahead anyway. Afterwards, we received this mail

"We realize there's lots of uncertainty about the planned 9th grade detracking, esp with the recent Times article that mis-characterizes our plan. We have a draft of a description of the plan, and would like to incorporate the questions you've already collected from parents. Then in a couple days we can send you a clear description that answers as many questions as we can, which hopefully you'll share with as many parents as you have access to via constant comment, etc. So please share the questions you've gotten, grouped as makes sense to you, or just as a raw list."

Apparently when they decided to do this, they didn't even have a draft of a plan to share. I also inquired whether the Advanced Learning Office Office had reviewed the plan, this was the reply i got:

"Garfield was the designated APP site for the district many years ago. Now every neighborhood school is providing AP courses for their neighborhood populations. To answer your question. Does Garfield need permission from Michael Tolley, School Board, or Sarah Pritchett to make Academia changes. The short answer to your question is NO.

Lastly, there is no change for our advanced placement cohort or our students who want to challenge themselves at GHS by taking honor courses. The change is for our general ed population."

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

Just a reminder that I do not want the teacher called out in our forum.


"Lastly, there is no change for our advanced placement cohort or our students who want to challenge themselves at GHS by taking honor courses. The change is for our general ed population."

I believe this is reasonable.

Sure wish it wasn't surrounded by all the racial baggage because HCC isn't institutionalized racism. And I will refuse to have my child taught in any of *******'s classes as well as fight to have her removed from her position.

-SPS Parent"

Anonymous said...

Why is it that TM needs to gain board approval to change their policy on how they "support" the HCC and gen ed cohorts, but Garfield does not?

They are both claiming to raise the bar for all students, rather than lower the bar for HCC. This seems like semantics, and a tool to get around district policy. I don't see any neighboring districts taking this approach, especially our district to the east, with all of the top schools in the state and nation.

confused

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the update from the Garfield PTSA. It appears HCC families have run into a brick wall at Garfield High School. What would be helpful HCC/AL advocacy at this point?

At the very least, it appears there needs to be more advanced classes for 9th graders at every neighborhood school, where these kids will be left to attend now that they're not welcome at the previously set up "pathway" school.

keep learning

Benjamin Leis said...

@Confused - the short answer to your question is that the procedure that currently governs HCC defines it explicitly as self-contained in grades 1-5 and and only as accelerated access to advanced placement or IB courses in High School.

My opinion (and here I speak only for myself) is that once you claim that differentiation is offered its very hard to prove the program is out of compliance with the state law as well.

Anonymous said...

@keep learning.

Where did you get the idea that HCC/AL students aren't welcome at Garfield?

Questioning

Anonymous said...

@ Alec Cooper, thank you for the update. I have a follow-up question to one of your comments. You said: We emphasized that we understood the challenges that the teachers were trying to address.

Can you please clarify what problem(s), specifically, they are hoping to address? Is it a perception of white-black segregation at GHS? Poor uptake of honors classes by non-HCC students? Disparities in test scores, graduation rates, etc.? Behavioral differences between students in different tracks (although they don't really have tracks, even though people keep calling them that)? Or something else?

And seriously, do they not know that Garfield is still the designated HCC pathway school, and those needs to provide accelerated learning and enhanced instruction to HC-designated students, even in 9th grade? As yet, they have not even mentioned that they'll provide differentiation.

Please share what you hear back from them ASAP. I'm sure there are many eager to read their plan. I have to say, though, find it hard to believe that Mr. Howard approved of this change in the absence of fully developed plan. How irresponsible.

Stunned

Lynn said...

I want to first point out that Garfield staff are not the final authority on whether they are or are not allowed to make unilateral changes to the school's program. Please contact Ted Howard, Sarah Pritchett, Mike Starosky, Michael Tolley and the school board.

I have the impression that these teachers would be pleased to see another school become the HCC pathway for an accelerated AP program. That would be a big change for the school. Last year HCC students made up 30% of the population at Garfield (518 out of 1,706.) Are they prepared to give up 30% of their staff?

Have they considered the effect of the loss of 30% of PTSA funds on the remaining students? Garfield's PTSA pays for the school's academic support programs. Will the loss of HCC students and the reduction in fundraising for the school's music and theatre programs improve conditions for the remaining students? I think this would greatly limit access to rigorous classes for any students who remain.

In my opinion, these teachers should be encouraged to apply for any open jobs at Franklin, Nathan Hale and Roosevelt where they might be more comfortable with the program.

Sneak Attack said...

"Now every neighborhood school is providing AP courses for their neighborhood populations." But with this being sprung on us IN ONLY TWO MONTHS it's too late for 9th graders to opt for their neighborhood schools this fall.

Why the sneak attack? Why the huge rush to do it RIGHT NOW?

Anonymous said...

I'll let the upcoming communication from the school speak for itself in terms of what they believe they are trying to achieve. Yes, I have personally reached out to the AL Office (said they were not involved in the decision making process), Dr Nyland and school board members. I don't know where the Stanford center really is on this.

Melissa Westbrook said...

FYI, I wrote to the Board about the issues at Garfield, as outlined in the Times article and about TM. I asked them one simple question - who is in charge of academics in Seattle Public Schools?

Because I find all this change - without parental input or even notice (at least for Garfield) - to quite odd. I find the smothering out of Spectrum and now the end of honors classes at Garfield (the one school in the district that should have them) and TM's desire to rewrite the AL policy not just for themselves, but the entire district, all pointing to one direction - a complete (non-public) overhaul of the AL program.

I suspect the rush is to get it all in place as sort of a fait accompli so the district will act like it was all a slow process of change that somehow missed parents' attention.

I also think this new equity banner has a lot more to do with one person behind a curtain than real movement towards equity. Just as my Tennessee granny used to say that there's more than one way to skin a cat, there are many roads to equity.

What's troubling is that the district isn't being clear on what way they have chosen.

The Board needs to act to at least get some clarification on what is truly going on.

Anonymous said...

Well that is ominous. Do you have any info on it? Do you mean part of the update above?

NewJAMSParent

Anonymous said...

Let's face facts. Black and Hispanic poor people are tired of still riding in the back of the bus, metaphorically speaking. How long before they catch up to whites and asians?

If anybody has a better idea of how to motivate the underclass students, I'm sure the district and the world would love to hear about it. Mr Howard knows more than most the daily reality of his school and this is his and his staff's plan.

If you have better idea...

chrome

Anonymous said...

Multiple sources have confirmed that the honors classes at Garfield are NOT being abolished. Can we please stop throwing that around?

Anonymous said...

I think education can only do so much to counteract intergenerational poverty. No matter what we do at a school level we will see this until we make some changes. But we still have to educate all our students, not just the ones we like.

I think smaller class sizes for gen Ed and better gerrymandering of attendance areas would make a big difference. Longer school days. Shorter summer. More arts(GHs does that beautifully now). Smaller class sizes at all grade bands.

-sleeper

Sneak Attack said...

Everyone - remedial, gen. ed., HCC - are going to be in honors. So it only going to be called honors, it's not really going to BE honors.

Anonymous said...

If there are only classes called honors classes, then there are no honors classes. If there is only "advanced" math, there is no advanced math.

NJP

Anonymous said...

There are already ELL and SpEd kids in honors courses. So does that mean there actually isn't honors as it stands right now? Should we make students take a test to be in an honors class? Because regardless of how students are put in the honors classes, teachers still have to figure out how to deal with a wide range of learners. Also, not all HCC kids are at the same level or learn the same way, which adds to the range of learners.

Anonymous said...

Supposedly the honors and regular classes are different. Of course kids are transcending their labels and trying to find an appropriate class, challenging themselves when they can. That is the goal and why it is opt in. Now GHs is taking that away, apparently because the staff was unable to appropriately counsel kids, and was gatekeeping inappropriately.

-sleeper

Sneak Attack said...

This is a great comment on Save Seattle Schools (Thurgood Marshall thread). Who is asking the communities of color what they want? If we want to play identity politics, the majority of the teachers pushing for this change are probably white:

Ok, it's time for some people to check their privilege. There are a lot of white do-gooders claiming to speak for families like mine - and they don't.

I grew up in a family of farm workers. I worked in the fields and barely went to school until my parents got a service job when I was 8. My school was in a mixed race mixed income town in coastal California. All our classes were gen ed classes. We never had honors or advanced learning, not until high school.

I was tracked into gen ed classes in high school. One teacher also taught Honors English and saw I had some ability so she put me in the Honors class. I thrived. It prepared me for college. I was the first in my family to go and to graduate. Now I live comfortably in north Seattle. I made it.

I want my daughter to make it too. But she won't if you all take away her ability to go to a good college, which is what you're doing if you take away these Honors and advanced classes like this. She's one generation removed from the fields but you want to put her and kids like her right back by claiming its for the sake of equity.

The children of white kids can go to private school or supplement with outside classes. But that's just reinforcing the problem you all say you want to solve. Meanwhile you never once mention how these blended classes will help kids who are having trouble. You never once explain how this will help them get ahead.

Instead you want to use our kids as some sort of museum piece. Instead of slumming it in the ghetto you think your kids should slum it in our classes. I got news for you: that's not what we want. We want our kids to LEARN, dangit, not to be used so you all can feel better about yourselves.

So check your privilege. Your job is to help make sure kids get the instruction they need, not deny it to them so you all can feel better about yourselves. If you ever want to know why people like us are so frustrated with white liberals, this is why. Knock it off and give all kids the classes they need - and if those classes aren't as diverse as you want, then help us get our kids there, rather than just doing this by decree. You don't get it, you didn't talk to us, and you're not helping us. Just stop.

Hermano

Anonymous said...

Alec,

I would be interested in a plan supported by substantive evidence that they have successfully differentiated in the past for all students:

1. List the learning objectives for this class that describe what the students will know and be able to do after the class is finished.

2. Provide a copy of the pre-assessment you will use to determine appropriate instructional level at the beginning of the school year prior to instruction.

3. How will you differentiate lessons after grading the pre-assessments to address the needs of different learning styles, general education, remedial, highly capable, special education, twice-exceptional and English-language learners? Supply detailed examples for each of the student sub-groups listed above especially in groups that overlap (ex: student both ELL and HCC).

4. Attach a copy of the formative and summative assessments you’ll use to assess progress and measure mastery of the learning objectives.

5. Describe key challenges you’ve faced in educating different learning styles, general education, remedial, highly capable, special education, twice-exceptional and English-language learners combined in a heterogeneous classroom and how you’ve successfully overcome those challenges to meet learning growth objectives for each student sub-group?

6. What specific professional development has been completed in Differentiation?

- NEM

Anonymous said...


From Lynn on the Seattle Schools blog -
Anonymous Lynn said...
Here is the PTSA email:

Dear Garfield Families,

Members of the PTSA met with Principal Howard and Language Arts/Social Studies (LA/SS) teachers last week to learn more about the proposed changes to the 9th grade LA/SS curriculum. We requested the meeting after The Seattle Times published an article about Ted Howard and Garfield that discussed the school's race and equity challenges. The article indicated that 9th grade LA/SS Honors was going to be cut.

Principal Howard and the teachers clarified that The Times story mischaracterized the LA/SS Honors change. In fact, the school plans to offer Honors curriculum to all 9th graders. There will no longer be two curricula tracks for LA/SS - regular and honors. Now, all students will take the LA/SS Honors curriculum and be held to the same standard: Honors for All. The PTSA, the school and the teachers feel this is an important change to demonstrate to a greater number of Garfield students that they can enroll, and take on the rigor of more challenging courses, and succeed in that environment.

The teaching staff are 100% committed to Honors for All and to its success. All of the teachers are certified and trained to teach Honors and to teach a wide range of learning styles. They voted unanimously to make this change and to supporting each other as a team.

The teachers explained they help initiate the change because it would hold all students to a similar standard and it will be a rich learning environment. Classroom discussions will be enriched with the new classroom composition and the teachers will introduce project-based learning, a nationally recognized teaching tool. It will enhance learning for all as students will have the opportunity for individualized learning and peer learning opportunities will grow.

The teachers acknowledged the challenges they will face and shared how they were preparing for them. It is a challenge to teach Honors to a broad spectrum of students. The LA/SS teaching teams have been preparing for several years: enrolling in courses to teach differentiated learning; researching the newest teaching methods; studying high schools that have already made this change. Principal Howard also announced a new reading class for students to improve their reading skills.

Principal Howard and the district are committed to supporting this change, and the PTSA will work with the school and the district to ensure its success. The PTSA is requesting that the teachers share their implementation plan for this change and communicate the plan to the community, and it will also request quarterly check-ins to learn how it is going and to identify where we can best support the students, teachers and classrooms.

In the short term, the PTSA has shared parent questions with the teachers, and next week the teachers plan to address the questions and share their implementation plan for LA/SS Honors for All. The PTSA will continue to invite feedback and update the community. We are committed to partnering with the school - One Garfield! - to deliver an excellent education to the entire student body.

Garfield HS PTSA Executive Board
Sally Hulsman and Barbara Kelley
sally_hulsman@yahoo.com 206.992.0924
bjkelley62@hotmail.com 206.349.1697

7/5/16, 9:19 PM

Anonymous said...

Alec,

Thank you for the update.

As expected with any profession, teachers need to substantiate claims with evidence.

I’d want *specifics* from the teachers of how this new plan will work:

1. List the learning objectives for this class that describe what the students will know and be able to do after the class is finished.

2. Provide a copy of the pre-assessment you will use to determine appropriate instructional level at the beginning of the school year prior to instruction.

3. How will you differentiate lessons after grading the pre-assessments to address the needs of different learning styles, general education, remedial, highly capable, special education, twice-exceptional and English-language learners? Supply detailed examples for each of the student sub-groups listed above as well as sub-groups that overlap (ex: student both ELL and HCC).

4. Attach a copy of the formative and summative assessments you’ll use to continuallyy assess progress and measure mastery of the learning objectives.

5. Describe key challenges you’ve faced before in educating different learning styles, general education, remedial, highly capable, special education, twice-exceptional and English-language learners and how you’ve successfully overcome those challenges to meet learning growth objectives for each student sub-group?

6. What professional development has been completed in Differentiation?

- NEM

Anonymous said...

@NEM -
Were the specifics you request being done by the teachers and provided to you before this proposed change? If yes, if great. If not, then I would suggest that your proposal is designed to block this proposed change and not support it. - Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

CH Parent:

I don't understand why you are so willing so go along with this change with zero specifics. I have been around this district long enough to know that meaning well and good intentions are not enough.

The HCC community has dealt with having no curriculum for almost 10 years after it was promised. There is little stability in the program and many at John Stanford are openly hostile to the program, so why shouldn't parents be wary?

NEM's suggestions of what the teachers should provide parents are pretty basic. If this change has been planned at all, the teachers should have answers to these questions at the ready as they should be part of the planning.

The district has taught me well not to take them at their word.

-rotini

Anonymous said...

@Capitol Hill Parent,

I’m sincerely surprised you see asking detailed questions as “blocking an action”.

In my professional career I’ve always had to provide evidence-based rationale to support my recommendations and respond to extensive questioning because so much was at stake.

I expect no less from anyone else. I apply that approach toward everyone. Showing respect for someone is not equivalent to unquestioning trust.

Do you know what erodes trust? Your post on Jul 2, 7:27 AM when you supported the facebook post calling HCC “obnoxious elitist unconscious racists” and you added “privileged” to the list.

We’re a Family of Color & HCC, and we find YOUR comments above offensive.

- NEM

Anonymous said...

A couple thoughts:

The bullet point evidence list NEM wants is never provided for any curriculum or class anywhere in SPS. It won't be supplied here either. If it is discussed at all it will be between the professionals and not shared with parents who after all are not professionals. Parents are fundraising partners to schools and not much else. Certainly not pedagogical partners.

This is how the change takes place while not running afoul of state advanced learning laws: Lastly, there is no change for our advanced placement cohort or our students who want to challenge themselves at GHS by taking honor courses. The change is for our general ed population." The state will never back parent complaints on this one.

3: Put a concern about minority classroom achievement head to head with concerns of HCC achievement and HCC will lose in the circles of SPS, Seattle politics, the media and social gatherings 9.9 times out of 10.

In summary HCC parents, pound sand. This is a done deal.

Realist



Anonymous said...

I resigned from the GHS PTSA Board after I saw that most recent communication. I'm not sure how one could decide to support something if you haven't seen the implementation plan. Usually it is the other way around.

More importantly, I can't support the manner in which this is being done. Regardless of where your child is, you deserve to have the details on a major change like this well in advance, be able to provide feedback and ask questions.

The article came out 10 days ago and the school still has not shared any information with parents or changed the course catalog. It is kind of amazing to me that the school made this decision and has already built their master schedule around it without apparently having a written plan of implementation or a community engagement plan ready to share. And it's not like any of these people just wandered into SPS - everyone pushing this knows precisely how controversial and how big this change actually is (one of the teachers described it to me as "enormous").

My conclusion after seeing this from pretty close range is that the principal and teachers are just making this up as they go. None of the teachers knew that remedial LA students would be taking a "double dose" of LA for example - they had to ask for more information on this in the meeting last week.

I believe that a decision to implement this for all 9th graders wasn't made on the basis of a plan, with real details on implementation and outcomes, but based on personal feelings and convictions.

I don't think the lack of information is accidental, I think there's a real desire by the teachers to do this without disclosure or engagement because they don't have a plan yet and worry about getting derailed.

If this hadn't come out in the Times story, when would it have come out? When people showed up for class?

To the notion of "the parents just need to get on board": I've noticed that the teachers don't have a habit of "just getting on board" with anything the district does.

As to what you can do: I think that if you are concerned about this, you should email the principal, the PTSA, the superintendent and your school board member. Hold the school to a high bar in terms of transparency, communication, and community engagement. Demand that a plan be produced and discussed before decisions are made, not after. Insist on your right to ask critical questions and hold the school accountable for follow through.

The rich irony to me is that these are our civics teachers not wanting a public discussion...

Anonymous said...

Had the change to "Honors for All" been made known to families (prior to Open Enrollment!), rather than discovered secondhand in a Seattle Times article, would more parents have been willing to give it a chance? Had the vitriol not been expressed by the Garfield teacher, would there be more confidence that it was a viable plan? We'll never know. Garfield, you messed up.

Sneak Attack said...

Huge, big mess up. The arrogance of it takes my breath away. Even if they back down from "Honors for All" now how can I trust these teachers in the classroom with my kid? I feel like I'm sending her into a den of lions.

Anonymous said...

@ NEM - I believe you have misunderstood my earlier post. My point was that if this person's lived experience is that she has encountered "obnoxious elitist unconscious racists" she should be able to describe her experience as such. My reference to elitist and privileged was in response to some of the attitudes I see displayed on this blog and which lead to a poor classroom atmosphere.

In terms of detailed questions blocking an action - in my work I see it used all the time as a common tactic that delays and derails programming. I am glad that your experience has been different and that you meant it sincerely. - Capitol Hill Parent

Sneak Attack said...

Don't give up. You have a right to be heard. Please email the people in charge and tell them what you think:

trhoward@seattleschools.org
sjpritchett@seattleschools.org
mpstarosky@seattleschools.org
rick.burke@seattleschools.org
scott.pinkham@seattleschools.org
jill.geary@seattleschools.org
sue.peters@seattleschools.org
superintendent@seattleschools.org
mftolley@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

Thank you "Sneak Attack." I heard a piece on NPR this morning about the culture of shaming, and how people are afraid to speak up because it is so easy to be blasted on social media these days. In this case, there are so many problems to speak up about...at the very least:
1) SPS admin lack of AL vision, leadership, communication, transparency, curriculum, follow through on commitments, family engagement and INTEGRITY;
2) Garfield teacher publicly shaming parents who are advocating for appropriately challenging coursework and support for ALL students; and
3) the disconnect between promises made by district employees in charge of curriculum and instruction and capacity, and the realities of what is provided at the neighborhood and school level.

The Cascadia community should be bracing themselves for a messy and heartbreaking split. I would venture to guess the head of capacity planning already has a plan for how the cohort will be splintered and he will have a few more meetings to check of the community engagement box and spring the reality on everyone late next spring or even during the summer. Why not?

-keep learning

Anonymous said...

"Honors for All" sounds similar to the Algebra for All tried by many school districts. See Takako Nomi for an analysis of outcomes for Chicago students (only abstract can be viewed for free, but second link has a summary of findings).

Unintended Consequences of an Algebra-for-All Policy on High-Skills Students

Algebra-for-All Research Study Synopsis

Benjamin Leis said...

I added a copy of the PTSA's letter to the top-line.

On a personal note: I find the shifting description of what Garfield is doing and the lack of official communication from the school to be disconcerting and at odds with the claim this is a deliberate and well planned process.

Lynn said...

I am finding that I've returned to my original position on the district - they can't be trusted. There is some kind of insane movement afoot in both the staff and vocal groups of activist parents that results in continous nasty attacks on children and parents who dare to expect acess to an acceptable education. It really should not be too much to ask - we don't expect the great numbers of interesting and challenging classes available in Bellevue high schools. Instead we expect a decent college preparatory education in this growing, wealthy city.

It's a shame that this appears to be impossible for SPS to provide.

Anonymous said...

I'm trying to understand this line: "The LA/SS teaching teams have been preparing for several years"

Years? Years?! And parents are just hearing about it in June (though only parents that are on the GHS PTA email list?), after course selections have been made and Open Enrollment is closed? Really? When is GHS planning on letting students know?

Sneak Attack said...

When kids walk into class the first day of school apparently.

Anonymous said...

Dear fellow GHS parent,



As PTSA President until last week, I had a front row seat for the events of the past few weeks regarding “Honors for All”. A small group of us met with the teachers in late May and again last week. In both conversations, I have stressed to the teachers that they need to adopt the appropriate process to propose changes of this magnitude at Garfield – to develop a written, detailed plan on exactly what they propose to do, to present it to all of the Garfield parent community for feedback, and to make any changes with appropriate notice so that parents understand what their choices are when selecting schools and classes. At no time in our May meeting did the teachers suggest that this was a change for all students in 2016-2017.



What the school has chosen to do has been exactly the opposite. Almost two weeks ago, a front page Seattle Times story stated that Garfield intends to eliminate honors LA and SS for all 9th graders. This was certainly news to the 500 or so Garfield parents that had selected 9th grade classes months earlier. In the past two weeks there has been exactly zero communication from the school – not even a FAQ on the Garfield web page clarifying their proposal. I have personally come to believe that there isn’t a plan – that a decision was made at Garfield based on personal feelings and convictions, and that a plan is being hastily developed now. The school certainly has had ample time and opportunity to share details with parents.



So I was quite surprised to see a mail from the PTSA saying we support a major change for the upcoming school year that has yet to have an implementation plan developed. Usually it would be the other way around – we’d see the plan before supporting it. Secondly, how can the PTSA support any change if the members have not had a chance to learn, discuss, provide feedback and vote? Unless I have missed something, I did not see any board or general resolution to endorse anything.



The changes that the school have been talking about – and I stress talking, as there have been changes from conversation to conversation – are large in scope and affect every incoming 9th grade student. They affect all parents as standards in classes, course offering and teaching methodology changes have all been discussed. There will be many diverse perspectives not only in the PTSA but across the parent community on these changes.



I would like to recommend that we all step back and think about this and who we wish to be. Do we want to be an organization that endorses a plan we haven’t seen, on behalf of hundreds of families who haven’t seen it either? Is the way these changes are being made friendly to families and conducive to success? What are the impacts on the Garfield community if changes are made without any opportunity to provide feedback?



Alternately, we can as a community and as an organization hold the school a higher standard. To develop and propose specifics, to enable feedback from the diverse communities that make up Garfield, and to be accountable for the quality of implementation and the results. I hope we choose that path.



Best regards,

Alec Cooper

GHS Parent

Anonymous said...

I wonder if they never intended to share the plan with the community. Maybe they messed up by mentioning it to the reporter!

I'm not suggesting anything nefarious, but maybe they thought it would avoid any prejudice or bias on the part of the students themselves? I don't mean racial prejudice - I just mean that if you show up to your new school as a 9th grader and you signed up for honors English, it's reasonable to assume that all your classmates also signed up for honors english and are therefore ready for a rigorous experience. Maybe if you were told it's a mixed ability class, you'd come into it with preconceived ideas and concerns.

I don't know. I'm not a teacher and have no experience with Garfield. But it doesn't seem implausible that some might think that doing this under the radar was not only defensible but a good idea so that none of the students preemptively judge the others.

Former dragon

Sneak Attack said...

We have the right to know what we're getting into. They can't keep it a secret forever. You can't trick people by saying here are our classes and then trap them into actually taking different classes without giving them a chance to get out of it by choosing a different school. What gives these teachers the right to take away our right to decide for our own kids? How do they expect us to get on board when they treat us with this little respect? It's too late to switch. We could have chosen Ingraham or Roosevelt, are there still openings there for us?

Anonymous said...

The rules are different this year.

Student Assignment Plan 2016-17

"If they [HCC 8th graders] apply for their attendance area school during Open Enrollment through May 31, they will be assigned to their attendance area school (unless they apply to and are assigned to a higher ranked choice)."

"...waitlists stay active through May 31 and will be dissolved on August 15, after which there are no further wait list moves for the year...No students will be added to the waitlist after May 31."

Anonymous said...

I want to put it out there that not all families are upset by this change. We're not. Also, we're not going to get sympathy for Garfield changing the makeup of these classes without notice or partnering with us. In core subjects, show me a school that does so. Our kids are still taking the class they signed up to take. I suspect the flame retorts are coming, but I don't think this is a big deal for our kids. I think it's a bigger deal for the kids who will be asked to do more than they probably expected in 9th, but that's a different thread.

I'll look forward to hearing what Garfield shares with us next week, but again I think it's optional not mandatory that they do so. Yes, better to do so, but Garfield administration has never been known to be good at parent communications that I can remember. Why expect they'd suddenly be brilliant at it in this case? I agree that they never intended to notify us in the first place.

Mom of two

Anonymous said...

Just a heads up that the "admissions center" (why don't they just call it enrollment?) will be closed July 14 to Aug 7. If you are going to try and enroll in your neighborhood high school, both Ballard and Roosevelt have wait lists over 50 per school for 9th grade. And it states that they are not taking any open enrollment requests after May 31st. Garfield has 72 on its wait list for 9th grade. Looks like it might be difficult to transfer out of GHS and go north for the fall.

Mom of 2 - thanks for your calm reaction. You make a lot of sense.

Sneak Attack said...

You mean you can know ahead of time that there are classes in your catalog, that you are letting kids sign up for and think they're going to take (like non-Honors English and history) that aren't going to exist in the fall, and purposely not tell them until school starts? Because you know people aren't going to like it? So basically it's ok to lie? I'm sorry, it just seems wrong.

Anonymous said...

Why go north to Roosevelt which has no 9th grade honors?

Anonymous said...

@ Mom of two,

Are you sure? You said: "Our kids are still taking the class they signed up to take. I suspect the flame retorts are coming, but I don't think this is a big deal for our kids. I think it's a bigger deal for the kids who will be asked to do more than they probably expected in 9th, but that's a different thread."

1. The class name may be the same, but are you sure the class itself will be the same? According to the ex-PTSA president, they are talking about changes to the standards in classes, the teaching methodology, etc. And as has been seen with past "Algebra for all" attempts, this approach often results in a lessening of rigor and reduced student learning.

2. Will some kids be asked to do more than they expected, or will expectations be the same? Are teachers really going to require students to work that much harder, just to pass a class they need for graduation, even when the student didn't want an honors level course? If a student has an after school job and other responsibilities and doesn't have extra time to spend on homework, will the teacher just let them slide, doing what would previously have been considered passing?

Personally, I find it hard to believe that these will be the same honors level courses as before. I suspect they will add a little something --something they can point to and say "look, it's more challenging than our old GE class--but I certainly do not expect they will simply adopt the old honors classes and use those for all. That's why they are working on "new" honors classes--because the old classes won't really exist anymore. I suspect the new classes will be "honors lite."

Not flaming

Sneak Attack said...

Roosevelt is within walking distance of our house and lots of friends and neighbors are going there. It's way easier logistically, it's part of our community. On balance, it might have been a better trade-off to do non-honors there than "honors for all" at Garfield. But that choice was taken away from us.

Anonymous said...

The mention of project-based learning would be enough to make me skeptical. There was enough drawing and crafty stuff in middle school HCC classes. My child, who normally likes drawing, began to dread any "projects" and is hoping for more serious work in high school. You know, actually honing the use of written language.

Sneak Attack said...

Are families at Garfield used to being treated like this, so it seems no big deal and normal? That makes me even less enthusiastic about the school now.

Anonymous said...

Sneak Attack -

Yep, pretty much.

Maureen said...

I certainly do not expect they will simply adopt the old honors classes and use those for all. ... I suspect the new classes will be "honors lite."

Were the old Honors classes very good? What made them different than the Gen Ed classes? Does anyone know enough to answer those questions?

Maureen said...

From the GHS 2015-16 Course Catalog For 9th grade Language Arts:

At the 9th grade level, there are two courses – Regular and
Honors Introduction to Literature and Composition. Both are
yearlong course that concentrate on guided and critical
reading of texts from different genres that reflect themes of
identity and self-discovery and where the focus of
composition is developing clear and purposeful writing.
Supporting both of these courses is the Read Right program
(see above). It is our belief that without strong reading skills,
a student is hampered in all courses. Grammar, vocabulary,
and writing are all emphasized in both courses. Four modes
of writing are practiced – narrative, persuasive, expository,
and literary analysis. The Schaffer method of writing is
introduced as the foundation for all analytical writing.
Students will be assigned based on their HSPSE test scores
and their grades in 8th grade Language Arts. If an
assignment needs correction, it will happen in the first two
weeks.


Doesn't sound like the content or focus of the assignments differed between the two? So it was just the cohort?

Benjamin Leis said...

@Maureen - that is the crux of the issue now. Unfortunately, I think those asking for metrics to measure the effectiveness of the classes are requesting an incredibly difficult thing to do even acting in good faith.

How do we really measure a quality high school class in LA? For instance, I'd also like to know how a LA class at Roosevelt differs from one at Garfield. But that's hard to answer short of having someone comment who had students in both schools. And even then like always the experience probably varies significantly teacher to teacher, classroom to classroom.

Some attempt on behalf of the teachers at Garfield to explain the nature of the changes in detail and how the classes will run would be the right thing to do and more practical.

FWIW: We already had one commenter earlier on saying the existing quality was not great and a teacher claiming there was no difference.

In addition, the PTSA has promised to forward me a copy of the teacher's presentation next week which I will post. Perhaps that will add some clarity.

If this does happen this fall - I will also open some threads to keep tabs on the implementation over time (which I realize is cold comfort for those who are going to be part of the experiment).

Anonymous said...

It was not just the cohort. Any student that met the benchmarks for whatever test was used that year and recommendations from 8th grade language arts teachers assigned kids to reg or honors. My son remembers his 9th grade honors LA class at GHS being very diverse. They used to place the Y Scholars (previously Urban Scholars) together in honors classes so one kid of color would not be the only color in the room. Spread out over several classes. Don't know how big the program is now. My son remembers his 9th grade LA honors class fondly. He said - "it was great!" It was also a long time ago.

Benjamin Leis said...

Based on what's been said so far, I should add that short of a complete disaster with this change I would expect all the honors classes to merge over time at Garfield especially where the course descriptions look the same. This is only me speaking but I would not depend on 10 Grade honors English as it currently stands being there either in the long run.

Anonymous said...

I don't even understand what it being proposed any more. So they always placed kids according to scores in 8th grade? If so, then all that is changing in the course name (from "regular" to "honors")? That's sort of what it looks like.

Unaffected but Confused

Maureen said...

I'm sorry, I wasn't clear. I meant "cohort" as opposed to (APP/HCC) "Cohort."

Should have said something like: "So it was just the fact that the students in Honors had scored higher on the HSPE and had high enough 8th grade grades." But wait, don't they take the HSPE in 10th grade? And were there actual cut off scores/grades? Or was it more of a fluid sort of grouping based on how many spaces were available in Honors vs. Non?

It would be nice if someone who actually understands what used to happen and how that will change could weigh in.

I had a kid go through "Non-Honors" at RHS and one in "Honors" at IHS and would agree with Benjamin that the impact of the teacher and the interaction of the individual students in the classrooms personalities probably mattered more than the course description/curriculum. I would also say, from our limited experience, that you can't assume that kids who are HCC eligible will add more to the quality of the classroom experience than kids who aren't. Whether it has to do with "boredom" or being single subject gifted or just plain not caring,.... I couldn't say.

NESeattleMom said...

My kid's freshman honors LA four years ago at Garfield was very diverse.

Maureen said...

NESeattleMom, was it a good class for your freshman?

pm said...

I have not had a child at Garfield, but some of the descriptions of assignments on the other thread did not sound particularly rigorous. One described reading "American Born Chinese" and making a graphic novel. One of my kids read that book and had that same assignment as a 6th grader at a private middle school.

Anonymous said...

Smiling a bit here. Guessing parents most upset about this have not yet had a student go through high school and college. The coming years are different than the past ones in K-5 and 6-8. If this kerfuffle upsets your apple cart you will never make it through the trials of schedules that don't work, teachers who have no intention of interacting with a parent, classes that don't meet expectations, classes that exceed expectations but require more work than expected, grades and grading scales you and-or your student disagrees with but cannot change, and more. The coming years are great don't get me wrong, but best to pace yourself on the outrage and criticism or your stress level will be unmanageable in short order. And then comes the student stress levels ping ponging off of yours.

Maureen said...

I need to apologize for posting my above excerpt of the GHS Course Catalog without reading ahead. It look like there are more detailed descriptions of LA9 and LA9H later on. They use slightly different language to describe what goes on in the classes and clarifies that placement is based on MSP/SBAC (not HSPE) scores. Core texts are the same for both classes.

If you have incoming 9th grader, you may want to review those descriptions to see what you think (as well as for Social Studies - which I haven't looked at.)

NESeattleMom said...

Maureen, I think my kid either didn't apply herself well enough, didn't feel challenged, or who knows what? I think she 'liked' the class, but I am sure with the right circumstances she could have either worked harder or had a more inspirational experience. Not sure how to pin it down. I'd ask her but she's out of town.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous - I couldn't agree more. Add to that teachers who don't return assignments with comments until months later or after grades are in... or hazing...or sports and music commitments that conflict with classes or how about the lack of Spanish teachers at GHS that kept kids in the halls for months with nothing to do.... - Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...

@smiling and CHP, we have a child in high school, yet haven't experienced the level of "kerfuffles" that attending GHS seems to entail. It's not exactly the first bump in the road for incoming 9th graders - some have already gone through multiple splits, program changes, mid year schedule changes, etc.

Anonymous said...

Sneak Attack said...

Don't give up. You have a right to be heard. Please email the people in charge and tell them what you think:


The school board director who represents Garfield is Stephan Blanford stephan.blanford@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

School board members represent all students, not just those in their district, as Sherry Carr kindly reminded me years ago.

Anonymous said...

True, but Garfield is in Director Blanford's district (d-5), and his name was missing from Sneak Attack's list. He seems an obvious person to contact too.

Or else the whole board: School Board - spsdirectors@seattleschools.org
School Board+senior staff - schoolboard@seattleschools.org

Sneak Attack said...

Don't give up. You have a right to be heard. Please email the people in charge and tell them what you think:

trhoward@seattleschools.org
sjpritchett@seattleschools.org
mpstarosky@seattleschools.org
rick.burke@seattleschools.org
scott.pinkham@seattleschools.org
jill.geary@seattleschools.org
sue.peters@seattleschools.org
superintendent@seattleschools.org
mftolley@seattleschools.org

Anonymous said...

Here is an example a school that properly rolled out this change to heterogeneous humanities for 9th grade classes -- including parent engagement early in the two year design process, a small pilot class, and responsible communication from the school directly to the community explaining what is happening and why. The respectful and thoughtful use of research and evidence backing their decision is especially helpful:
http://partnershipvt.org/2014/02/bhs-9th-grade-humanities-make-the-shift-heterogeneous-classes-earned-honors-and-proficiency-based-learning/

-coulda shoulda

Anonymous said...

Great article, read footnote 2 article as well, how smart kids don't do well because people tell them they're smart.

Anonymous said...

Make sure to email the board and the sup if you APPROVE of the Garfield decision!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon @1:12pm, how can you approve of the plan in the absence of any clear information about how they plan to adequately serve all groups?

Blind Faith?

Anonymous said...

How can you approve something that has yet to be formally communicated to parents?

Anonymous said...

Agree with the way it should have been properly rolled out, coulda shoulda. If blending classes is universally agreed as a superior educational approach, why aren't they doing it at Ingraham? If everyone knows how wonderful it is, why did they choose to implement it like this? Still looks like a political decision about race, not education, which is what the article that originally broke the news said.

Anonymous said...

As a reminder, the article said Howard was "chipping away at a system that traditionally tracks gifted middle-schoolers — mostly white — into Garfield’s Advanced Placement curriculum," not "We’re doing this in order to provide high-quality, high-expectations, challenging instruction for all of our students" as coulda should's article states.

This is the only information we've gotten from administration so far. The Seattle Times article, which is titled ‘Microcosm of the city’: Garfield High principal navigates racial divide: http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/microcosm-of-the-city-garfield-principal-navigates-racial-divide/

Anonymous said...

"This story, originally published on June 25th, has been clarified. Garfield Principal Ted Howard intends to place all students in honors history and English classes in the ninth grade. The story originally said he intended to cut honors history and English for that grade level."

So there you have it the times is even working to distort this idea. Should be, he originally said not the story said. Like they misquoted him. sickening. of course that really doesn't chip away at HCC/AP pathways does it so...

Why does Howard see this as race as a black man with 28% FRL students 120 who are homeless not see it as SES. Because one is easier to discern in data. How many of the suspended kids faced major challenges at home. Could it be those challenges are insurmountable without major societal changes and will not be affected by his honors for none program. This is a wrong headed policy and should be stopped by the school board.

-sps parent

Anonymous said...

If they had said something like, "Look, we're going to be upfront with you. Many kids in this school are suffering. The advantages your kids have compared to the disadvantages they have is becoming too painful. We are coming to the HCC community to ask that your students participate in these 2 blended academic classes to help their fellow students out. Your kids won't learn as much academically, but they will learn more in other ways that are equally important. If you still want traditional honors, you can opt for it, but please consider giving it a try and partnering with us. Here are detailed specifics of our plan" they would get a lot people willing to try it, I bet. Honesty is the key.

Anonymous said...

I will add that even if I would have been willing to consider the plan (whatever it turns out to be) originally, I am much less so now, given the way they are handling it.

Sorry, I did the post above this and the ones at 1:37 and 1:55. I'll sign them as Not Buying It.

Anonymous said...

-coulda shoulda @at 10:51 AM -- Is there any information about the results of the change they tried at that school in Vermont? The link connects to the announcement of the plan 2 years ago, in February 2014. There should be some indication of the outcome by now.

- more details please

Anonymous said...

They are maybe going to lose their accreditation this year, but I can't tell what that is related to. It also looks like they have a 9:1 student teacher ratio. I would be much less hesitant about a plan with 9:1. Any plan. Man. That would be great.

http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/vermont/districts/burlington-school-district/burlington-senior-high-school-20284

-sleeper

Anonymous said...

@- more details please...I posted the example from Vermont because I was struck by the difference in how such a transition implemented, including the testing of a small pilot effort, multiple parent engagements for feedback and to raise awareness early, then a very clear and respectful communication about the new program. This is obviously the stark opposite of what we are experiencing in Seattle. I didn't take the time to dig deeper to see what their results have been thus far, or learn more about their community or school.

I am not an education expert, but I believe people are correct to believe differentiation in the classroom would work for some subjects, with well trained teachers, small classrooms, a strong curriculum and a supportive community. It appears we have well trained and intended teachers at GHS, but that's about the extend of it.

Regarding the comments and research about labeling children as gifted and how this has unintended consequences of limiting their potential -- I think this depends on how parents and adults frame things. We moved our child to Cascadia and never told him he was "gifted" or "advanced" or that this was a "better" program. We did respond to his request for a class that moves at a faster pace and explained this is a program for students interested in moving at a faster pace and they already have a very strong understanding of the topics covered in K-2 at their neighborhood school.

SPS leadership and a subset of the Seattle blog community has a hatred towards the HCC community that I don't currently understand. We come from a mixed race family with a combination of SES, so I am very open and understanding to many perspectives and ideas. I am reading stories about heterogeneous classrooms, such as the one I shared previously, to learn more about their potential, shortfalls, and gather other perspectives. I worry about SES diversity in HCC and will keep an open mind that if a collection of classes have well-planned heterogeneous learning environments, perhaps more students will be excited to take on more rigor at school. This is fine, so long as those who have already proven that they are eager and ready to take on acceleration are not limited and used as butts in seats to create a desired perception of diversity at all cost.

I haven't been impressed with ALO at the neighborhood elementary school level, so I am skeptical of the "plans" currently being steamrolled at GHS.

-coulda shoulda

Anonymous said...

Thank you coulda shoulda! That is as balanced and thoughtful a perspective as I could wish to see, and I appreciate you taking the time to share it with us.

Not Buying It

Anonymous said...

I think that if they had sat down and tried their best to come up with a way to introduce this plan to generate the most animosity and parental push-back as possible, this would come close. So why? Doesn't fill me with confidence.

Not Buying It

Anonymous said...

I think we require individual responses on this issue from each director.

Anonymous said...

Agree. Is blending becoming the new district policy?

Anonymous said...

Some Seattle schools end ‘tracking’ in push for equity and success
Originally published July 9, 2016 at 7:30 am Updated July 8, 2016 at 8:12 pm

Long troubled by the racial separation in many Seattle classrooms, teachers are leading an effort to dismantle the district’s history of de facto segregation.

http://www.seattletimes.com/education-lab/an-effort-to-raise-achievement-by-dismantling-de-facto-segregation/

Anonymous said...

From the above mentioned article - "Dismal school results have persisted so long for many black and Latino students that some observers believe the problem is virtually unchangeable, due to a mountain of social, economic and historical forces no teacher can reverse.

But a longtime educator in New York state says those theories are wrong, and her research is influencing teachers in Seattle. Specifically, at Garfield High School, where honors classes traditionally are filled with white and Asian students, while general-education classes are mostly black and Latino.


“We reached a point where we can no longer just say, ‘Oh, well.’ The racial segregating that has happened, that’s very uncomfortable for us,” said social-studies teacher Jerry Neufeld-Kaiser, explaining a new plan to combine ninth-graders of varied academic records into what the school is calling honors-for-all English and social-studies classes this fall....... -Capitol Hill Parent

Anonymous said...


Reprinting fron SSC blog 'cause I like it.

Please email the directors if you support desegregating SPS

"I don't want to pretend to sound prescient, but we opted to stay neighborhood for middle and now high school and it's been fine. Yes, more apathetic and harder-to-teach students, way more SpEd and ELL, no question about it. Very different from the self-contained Spectrum we had for awhile...but, the kid is as sharp as ever, very good interpersonal skills, superb empathy, acceptance of others - all the stuff that was really, truly in short supply in self-contained.

Academically it's a problem insofar as being around unmotivated kids, but it requires the child to be more self-motivated, and more confidant in being able to stand with the hard workers and not the slackers.

In other words, more like real life. I strongly support de-tracking and returning HC kids to neighborhood schools. They will be better for it and the non-HC kids will be as well. It's not like they don't pick up on why their neighbors go to the HCC schools. It makes them feel less intelligent and that's wrong.


Pi"

We can't wait any longer to do everything we can to help these struggling kids and their families.

Integrate, Now!

Anonymous said...

Our responsibility is to all kids and families, not certain ones at the expense of others.

Here's the follow-up comment on SSC:

That sounds like it worked great for your kid. Some of my friends' kids have diagnoses of autism, but they have chosen to forego services to avoid the label and because they felt they need them, and it's worked out great for them. Should we get rid of services for autistic children altogether?

Anonymous said...

As far as I'm aware HCC is not a racially segregated program. Is there a racial requirement to belong? Try to respect the historical reality of actual segregation before you throw around terms like that.

Anonymous said...

segregated is a race thing. hcc is not segregated. stop lying principals and teachers and trolls.

sad that those three folks can be put in the same group. also sad that all south end students will be asked to repeat course work for the gen ed kids that are two years behind but not the north end where things just don't "look" as bad.

this isn't race it's economics and we are pulling ourselves apart at the seams to get all students to the bottom.

and yes you are mc chp and if you say the program is segregated at the least you are a troll like mc.

we can't be asked to educate people out of poverty off the back of our kids. it won't work and our kid's education will be delayed. oh and it is illegal according to the state legislation. finally howard's and more so taylor's perspective on this shows what this is... it is optics and not anything to do with honors for all. it was always alway honors for none.

-no caps

Anonymous said...

The Al office can easily look up kids with HC status in and out of the cohort. They know how well kids do outside the cohort. I wonder why they let the cohort explode like they did. Next year is going to be the biggest cohort ever.

Anonymous said...

One thing I have noticed is that, per the Washington State Report Card website, both low income and African American students perform relatively close to the white and asian students at Garfield in reading and writing. These are the metrics that one can use to parse the data on that website so I took a look at it. Thus, in LA, at risk students do not appear to be significantly underperforming. This excludes last year's data when the district's testing policies blew up.

However, look at the math and science data. There is a shocking disparity there. Why, if Garfield really wants to help these at risk students succeed is there no focus on math and science?

-Curious

Anonymous said...

Agree with above - there’s a discrepancy here that I don’t quite understand. Why are we talking about “de-tracking” honors Language Arts and History only? While we’re at it, why not honors Math? Honors Science? How about honors Spanish?

The fact that reading and writing classes are put on the cutting board first speaks volumes about what we currently value in education. Literacy skills – the ability to absorb and sift through written information and to express yourself oneself and powerfully — are arguably just as important as solving a geometric proof, or writing up a lab report, especially at the high school level.

Just to be clear, I believe cutting any honors classes, for ANY reason, is completely crazy. And will not have the desired effect (there will be plenty of effects, to be sure, but none of them positive).

-current Garfield parent

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, current. At the UW we in the math and science fields ponder a lot about what predicts success in Graduate School (mainly because leaving Grad School is so painful when it doesn't work out that we want to do our best to select the students most likely to succeed). Ironically, even for the the sciences, high verbal/written GRE scores are a better predictor of success than high math scores.

That said, however, I think that a lot of our 10th grade students are leaving high school without even the most basic computational skills.

-Curious

Anonymous said...

I should point out that the GRE score findings were specific for our Department over the years. They do not represent published studies that are out there - and may not hold true for all departments. We knew how our own students did re: success and looked to see if the GRE scores were predictive. Interestingly the verbal were more predictive than the math. However, in general, the highest GRE scores were not necessarily predictive of grad school success.

Don't want to derail this interesting Garfield discussion onto the equally interesting topic of test scores.........

-Curious

Mama Bulldog said...

I no longer teach at the university level, but have a Ph.D. in English (and a non-white child) and couldn't agree with Curious more. What distresses me about this move to Honors for All in the humanities is the implicit assumption that humanities classes lack academic rigor and importance, as compared to math, science, and, good point, foreign languages (should all 9th graders be put in level 3 of foreign languages to "pull them up"?). These subjects are crucial underpinnings for any education that values thinking, analysis and communication about all our society's deepest questions. This kind of education is the true path to much more effective solutions to problems such as racial inequity, much more so than forcing bodies in seats. To shortchange children on this vital education is a terrible waste.

Lynn said...

Curious,

Are you looking at the math and science HSPE scores? Those are from several years ago. The EOC exam scores in algebra are pretty high. I'll agree though that biology doesn't look very good.

They aren't blending math and science because the ninth graders don't all take the same course. There are no honors versions of the lowest classes offered - algebra and physical science. There are also no honors world languages. Those are electives and generally only taken by students who intend to attend a four year college.

Anonymous said...

Copied from SSC blog. VERY IMPORTANT:

Saturday, July 16th.
Directors Patu and Harris have their community meetings on that date.
Patu - 10-11:30 am Caffe Vita, 5028 Wilson Ave S.
Harris - 3:00-4:30 pm Southwest Branch, 9010 35th Ave. SW

Please, please attend the directors' meetings and let them know loud and clear that this new blending of Garfield students is very misguided.

We can change this but we need people to show up and explain to the directors the harm this will cause to ALL students.

Please find time to attend at least one meeting.

Hamilton Parent

Anonymous said...

Why not make all 9th graders take the same math and science course? Isn't that more "equitable"? Aren't those courses racially "segregated" also?

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Anonymous said...

Does anyone expect the "honors for all" LA/SS to extend to all HCC middle schools next? They've already paved the way by aligning classes to grade level standards.

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Benjamin Leis said...

I'm just to going to wipe the slate clean here. Please avoid personal attacks and stay on topic.

Anonymous said...

Hermano- Fantastic post! My husband and I share a similar background to you. I am getting tired of lumping "white folk" together as if we share the same cultural and class backgrounds in relation to the term "privilege".
-Maria

Anonymous said...

Great article in NY times by Eduardo Porter. States among other things research from Stanford. The black-white achievement gap has narrowed dramatically past 30-50 years, while a class achievement gap has doubled during the same time period. Americans and educators need to understand the roots of inequity in our public education system as a by product of income inequality.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/23/business/economy/education-gap-between-rich-and-poor-is-growing-wider.html?_r=0

From the article:
"Today, the proficiency gap between the poor and the rich is nearly twice as large as that between black and white children. In other words, even as one achievement gap narrowed, another opened wide."

-Maria