Welcome to the new year. I hope everyone had a good break. There are a lot of district wide forces that may affect HCC this year. Chief on my mind is the impending levy cliff. In the meantime here's a few things I've been watching.:
- The Cascadia split vote is coming up soon.
- The feeder patterns for REMS are about to be finalized. I haven't written much on this subject. But an unfortunate situation has been setup where its likely the 8th grade cohort will be mostly just HCC students. Given the numbers at Hamilton and its need for relief and the numbers at Whitman where anyone can opt to go back there during open enrollment there's no great solution. There's also likely to be little to any money to mitigate low enrollment classes given the overarching budget situation. This could come to play in extra curricular offerings, language options, advanced math etc.
- The ongoing honors for all English/History classes at Garfield and the blended Social Studies at Thurgood Marshall.
- The roll out of HCC at Madison Middle School and coming West Seattle pathway changes.
- Middle School Math. This year only Hamilton Middle School offered the AMC 8 test and registered for Math Counts. When you look at the overall stats for the area as expected Odle Middle School and Lakeside Middle School stand out. In theory the pool of talent here is much deeper than the results we're getting. Anyone who's interested in the situation at JAMS please email me. This is the one MS I'm probably going to work most directly at affecting.
Quote for thought from Prof. Wayne Au:
There are at least three things I would like folks to consider here:
1. None of the tests are objective, unbiased measurements. They never have been in the 100 or so years that standardized testing has existed in the United States. On the whole, our standardized tests have always reflected race and class-based inequalities. Even the very concept of IQ was originally constructed around these kind of inequalities and in those same origins was deeply rooted in the burgeoning eugenics movement. Now, of course everyone will argue, "But those are the old tests. It isn't the same now." The answer is yes and no. Different tests, but, again on the whole, the tests we have now actually reproduce the same race and class based inequalities as they did 100 years ago. I would argue that testing everyone will not equalize selection and will ultimately continue to reinforce the existing inequalities.
2. I also think it is important for folks to take the time to understand all of the factors that go into "educational achievement." It may be simply the case that kid A is considered for HCC and does well on a test over kid B simply because kid B might have been exposed to lead, or not had access to good health care, or lacks stable housing and food, etc., etc. Now these problems may feel too big to take up, BUT, if you are going to say, "Well we can't fix that, but we can make sure kid A gets access to a 'high' track, HCC program with special resources to meet their needs," then I think we have a problem of promoting a system of differentiation that ultimately privileges one group of kids over another based on factors that are socially and economically determined. I raise this because, no matter how one feels about tracking/HCC (for or against), empirically speaking it has perpetuated race and class inequalities, hand in hand with the testing. So if you're going to be an advocate for tracking, then you better be a fierce advocate for a whole bunch of other things that other kids need too, because if it all becomes just about your kid and your kid alone, then you buying into a system that is perpetuating inequality writ large.
3. I would also caution folks to assume that teaching, learning, and knowledge do not contribute to the lack of kids of color in HCC. Teaching, learning, and knowledge are strongly connected to culture, race, and/or class (or gender, for that matter). No set of knowledge or curriculum is neutral in terms of ideology or culture. What we choose to teach or not to teach are choices based on constructed norms. The same goes for how we teach. It is all imbued with different norms of communication and presentation of materials, as well as norms for interacting with kids. Since there are so few low income kids and kids of color (particularly Black and Brown kids of color) in HCC, then we cannot empirically say that the curriculum and instruction are not part of the problem. Indeed, folks should talk to the kids of color who've left HCC to see what they say. One issue in the educational literature on tracking is that the few kids of color in "high" track classes feel alienated from their mostly white peers and they have, in some cases, felt alienated from Eurocentric curriculum (mostly in humanities and social sciences, where those things are more easily felt).
I've hesitated to weigh in on the threads here because I feel like a lot of the conversations have been largely off-the-cuff, based a lot on individual experiences and without much attention to the equity issues that are well known in the areas in the research literature. I've posted here because the tone of the OP seemed open, and I thought it was a good space to challenge some of the assumptions that were laid out."
Slide deck for Carol Burris's talk on detracking at Garfield: http://www.garfieldptsa.org/ptsa/carol-burris-1-11/