Friday, May 28, 2021


 I'm putting the blog on hiatus unless someone would like to take it over from me.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Monday, February 3, 2020

Feb '20 Open Thread

Hey its open enrollment week and the entire programs future is under attack.

What's on your minds?

Monday, October 7, 2019

October Open Thread

Of Serious importance:  the AL office is attempting to dissolve the cohort model i.e the end of standalone 1-5 classrooms and pathways beyond that.

The next C&I working session will be discussing this matter.

What's on your minds?

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

September '19 Open Thread

Schools back in session. I suspect its going to be a tumultuous year. What's on your minds?

Monday, July 8, 2019

Summer '19 Open Thread

I'm super busy campaigning (Don't forget to vote this primary) so here's an open thread for the summer.

What's on your minds?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

June '19 Open Thread

I've been extremely busy but my facebook and website for the School Board campaign are starting to take shape:
Please take a look, like the page and share if you're interested in helping out.

What's on your minds?

Monday, May 13, 2019

I'm in the Race for School Board District 3

I'm still in the process of the getting everything setup. If you're interested in volunteering to help please email me via the contact button.   I will have an official website separate from this blog but for I'm not anticipating there will be a big impact on this site other than me putting it on the backburner a bit.

Our dinner conversation last night was around slogans and the kids feeding me sample questions on where I stand.  The idea we came up with was  "Consistency, Openness, Excellence".   Whether I win or lose I'm looking forward to this experiment in civic democracy.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Principal Butler Ginolfi resigns at Washington Middle School

From: Emily Butler Ginolfi <>
Date: Tue, Apr 30, 2019 at 4:15 PM
Subject: Update for WMS community
Dear Washington Community,
I am writing to let you know that I am resigning as principal of Washington Middle School at the end of the school year. 

I've worked my entire career in urban schools to advance the education of students and engage families disenfranchised by the public-school system.  After reviewing the school year, I have come to the realization that my skills and passion are better suited elsewhere.

I am committed to ensuring a strong close to the school year and a smooth transition for the next WMS leader before my last day on June 30th. I wish only the best for the students, families, and staff of the WMS community.
District office staff will reach out to the WMS community in the next few weeks and provide additional information about the transition and next school year.

Principal Butler Ginolfi

US News and World Report HS Rankings 2019

The rankings are out for this year:    This should be understood in context of what is being measured:


  • Garfield  #7
  • Roosevelt #11
  • Ballard #12

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

April '19 Open Thread

"From WCGE: We Need Your Help - Stat

The deadline for bills to be passed out of the Appropriations Committee in the House is April 9th. So far SSB 5354 has ***not*** been scheduled for a public hearing. The committee plans sessions on April 5, 6 and 8. There is still time!

Please contact committee chairman Rep. Timm Ormsby, even if you have already done so, and urge him to schedule a public hearing and executive session on SSB 5354 before the April 9th deadline. Add a few words about why this bill is important as an equity measure [talking points below].

Please also send an email to your own House Representatives and ask them to urge Rep. Ormsby to schedule this bill. If you don’t know who they are:

[Have friends and family across Washington do this as well.]

If this bill does not get out of Appropriations, it is ***dead*** for this session and we have to start all over again next year.

Suggested talking points (use your own words, but keep your message short):
* This is an important bill to improve equity in state highly capable programs
* The bill asks for important data disaggregation for better evidence-based decision-making about highly capable programs
* It calls on OSPI to provide equity-promoting guidelines when diversity goals aren't met
* It calls for highly capable professional development for principals, counselors, and student teachers – OSPI already has free professional development materials available online
* OSPI needs more than its current one half-time employee to serve the ENTIRE state with technical support and guidance and to provide data so that legislators and school districts can make evidence-based decisions
* It requires districts to acknowledge highly capable status from other districts for families that move a lot (military, migrant, etc.).
* It provides for transportation to highly capable schools, which is an issue especially in rural districts"
What's on your minds?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

2 State Legislative Advocacy Requests

The first one via hicapseattle is to call the state legislators about SB 5354:

Here's a brief description of the bill:
SB 5354 - DIGEST Allocates State funding for basic education programs for highly capable students. Requires the funds provided by the State for the State's basic education program for highly capable students to be categorical funded to provide services to highly capable students as determined by a school district. However, school districts must use a portion of the funds to deliver ***professional development***. Requires the funds provided by the State for student transportation to and from school to include transportation to and from programs for highly capable students. Requires each school district to conduct ***universal screenings*** to find students who need further assessment for potential gifted program placement.

The second one from me is to call about lifting the levy lid for Seattle. This one is critical for budgeting next year. If you're upset about losing librarians, or teachers etc. this is your chance to make an impact.

Here's some more details from WPD:

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

March '19 Open Thread

Teaser: I have some news which I'm not quite ready to share. What's on your minds? 

Monday, February 25, 2019

Update on HB1641 (State HiCap reforms)

The House Appropriations Committee needs to get email TODAY asking to schedule a hearing in HB1641 by Friday. Please take a moment and email them now emails links here: Link

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Guest Post: Please Advocate for the next Advanced Learning Supervisor in the district

[The following is a guest post from former Board Director Sue Peters.  Note:  the replacement job has not been posted yet on the SPS site. ]

Head of HCC/AL programs Stephen Martin is retiring from SPS this year. Speak up now to request highly qualified, appropriate replacement

Dear HCC/Spectrum and AL communities,

You may be interested to learn that the District’s Supervisor of Highly Capable and Advanced Learning programs, Stephen Martin is retiring from SPS as of 9/1/19, per a recent Personnel Report that was approved by the Board at their Feb 6, 2019 Board meeting:

I encourage any families in the HCC/Spectrum/AL community who would like to weigh in on the new hire to contact the Board, and Supt Juneau ASAP. It looks like this is being done quite quickly and with no public input.

Write to them at:;,

The existing job description is here:

But missing from the listing is any requirement for experience and expertise in gifted education. Instead the focus is primarily on administrative tasks, with one reference to advanced learning.

To the best of my knowledge, Martin is the only one in the Advanced Learning Department with significant experience in gifted education. Here’s his bio:

I have written to the Board and Supt. Juneau noting this discrepancy and have asked that the district hire a highly qualified replacement with meaningful gifted ed experience. (Letter included below.)


Sue Peters

Request for highly qualified replacement for retiring supervisor of HCC/AL Stephen Martin

Dear Superintendent Juneau and Board Directors,

In light of the fact that Stephen Martin, the District’s Supervisor of Highly Capable and Advanced Learning programs, is retiring from SPS as of 9/1/19 (per a recent personnel report:, I would like to take this opportunity to urge you to hire a highly qualified, appropriate replacement for him.

Currently, Mr. Martin is the only member of the Advanced Learning Department staff with significant experience and expertise in gifted education (as his bio demonstrates, included below). So it’s important that his replacement be at least equally as knowledgeable and experienced.

The candidate should also have a proven commitment to ensuring robust and appropriate programs and services that meet the academic and emotional needs of all gifted and advanced learners throughout the district, and a commitment to outreach to those who have been underrepresented in the programs.

Yet, the job listing that has been posted by SPS for Mr. Martin’s replacement makes no mention of the terms “gifted education” or “Highly Capable” among the skills, experience and education requirements of the position: (excerpt included below).

The position as posted doesn’t require teaching experience or familiarity with gifted ed pedagogy, nor is there any mention of experience with twice exceptional students, also a group whose needs must be understood and met by the AL Department. The position doesn't even require an MA in education, just a “closely related field.”

I hope you can agree that this description does not accurately convey the appropriate requirements for this position. So I ask that it be revised to better and fully reflect the demands of the position and the expectations of families and students of SPS, so the District will be better able to recruit the best candidate for this position.

The new hire should be someone who:
  • Has a proven track record of relevant and substantial experience working with gifted children.
  • Is committed to genuine efforts to expand diversity in the program, such as expanding and simplifying referrals, investing in teacher and administrator training, and community outreach, rather than through superficial measures such as limiting private appeals (which does little to nothing to increase diverse representation in the program).
  • Understands the need for gifted education and recognizes that it is part of basic education, as established by state law.
  • Is committed to providing meaningful, appropriate curriculum, as prescribed by law.

In sum, I ask that the district hire a highly qualified, talented replacement, quite possibly from outside of SPS, to address the needs of the roughly 4,000 students in SPS identified as Highly Capable, and the over 8,000 students identified as Spectrum or HCC, plus the many advanced learners districtwide

Lastly, please reach out to the Highly Capable and AL communities for input. And please let me know if I can assist in this process in any way, as a past SPS Board director and member of the SPS APP/HCC community for the last 14 years.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.


Sue Peters

SPS & APP/HCC parent since 2005

SPS Board Director (President & VP), 2013-17

Founding Member, Parents Across America

Founding Editor, Seattle Education Blog

BIO: Stephen B. Martin, Supervisor, Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs

Stephen graduated from Bridgewater State College and Boston University, and has done postgraduate work at Florida State University in Gifted Education and the University of Southern California in Educational Policy Planning and Administration. At FSU he studied with Dorothy Sisk, who had served as the Director of the U.S. Office of Gifted and Talented, working with all the state departments in establishing policies and programs for gifted children. Stephen has served as teacher, principal, or gifted coordinator in Massachusetts, the Philippines, Germany, Colorado, and Washington. He is a member of the National Association for Gifted Children (served on the Advocacy Committee with Joseph Renzulli), the Washington Association of Educators of the Talented and Gifted (board member and twice president), the Northwest Gifted Child Association, and has served on the Washington State Gifted Advisory Committee. Since joining the Advanced Learning office in 2010, Stephen has focused on making opportunities for advanced learners available at all schools, and increasing equitable access for underrepresented students. Working in collaboration with the SPS Department of Technology Services and private consultants, Stephen and his team are upgrading Advanced Learning systems to better serve Seattle families.

Excerpt from the current SPS job listing:


Knowledge of:

  • Theories and practices of Advanced Learning program education and required services 
  • Aptitude and achievement test measures and their interpretation 
  • Current research, emerging trends for the development of quality programs and the delivery of effective services 
  • Curricula and instructional strategies 
  • Effective methods for budget management and fiscal control
  • Computer technology for operations management 
  • Practices and principles of supervision; intervention and communication strategies with parents/guardians. 

Skills in:

  • Budget preparation; fiscal control 
  • Demonstrating instructional methods 
  • Effective communication (listening, writing, speaking); providing timely response 
  • Prioritizing and meeting critical timelines 
  • Preparing district, state, and federal reports 
  • Facilitating group meetings 
  • Computer technology 
  • Data collection and analysis 
  • Problem solving and decision-making 
  • Public relations 
  • Evaluating the effectiveness of assigned programs 

Ability to:

  • Provide leadership and direction 
  • Work effectively and professionally with department staff, central office staff, principals, teachers, parents, and outside agencies 
  • Effectively represent the district before the public 
  • Monitor and track compliance data 
  • Coordinate multiple activities simultaneously 
  • Supervise assigned staff 
  • Work effectively in a multicultural community 
  • Minimum Qualifications


Master's degree in education or closely related field.


Three (3) years of teaching experience, including two (2) years of program management or administrative experience in an urban environment.Three (3) years of teaching experience, including two (2) years of program management or administrative experience in an urban environment.


-Valid Washington State Teaching Certificate or evidence of ability to obtain a Washington State Certificate before starting in this job.

-A valid driver' license or evidence of equivalent mobility.


Administrative Credentials.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Feb '19 Open Thread

Open enrollment has started:

Note for those commenting on the online learning policy changes: 
"FYI, BAR Policies Nos. 2024 and 2420 have been pulled tomorrow’s Leg. Mtg. By Supt. Juneau and myself to be referred to the C and I Committee for more discussion, community engagement and potential unintended consequences.

Thank you for your input and conversations - stay tuned.

Leslie Harris
Director, District 6, President"

Registration for UW Robinson Center summer programs opens today:

Ingraham IB Information night has been rescheduled to Tue 2/12 at 7PM in the auditorium.

Senate Bill 5354-2019, a multi-issue hicap education bill, needs your help to advance. Please forward this message to friends and family in other Washington districts.
Among other things, SB 5354 requires ALL counselors and principals to get at least 2 hours of in-service professional development and student teachers to get pre-service training. The bill is getting a hearing tomorrow (Wednesday, February 6), but the Senate Education Committee needs to get a LOT more e-mail asking them “to bring the bill to executive session and to vote a Do Pass recommendation.” Please contact them today. Committee e-mails are below—click on a link for a predrafted message:
More details here:

What's on your minds?

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Washington Students Letter to their Principal

[The following group student letter  was forwarded to me to be publicly published]

WMS Students
 A Declaration of Representation  
Dear Ms. Butler Ginolfi and the Washington Middle School Administration, 
        In our 8th Grade history classes this year, we have spent a lot of time learning about the U.S. Revolution and the beginning of the country we live in today. Unfortunately, we are not able to continue those important and historical discussions with many of our same classmates, peers in other classes and programs, and even in most cases our teachers, but we have learned a lot about how much power matters in a system. This kind of situation not only happens in our history classes, but is now reflected throughout the school. If we are going to make a school where everyone learns and is cared about, we need to start having more student voice in decisions, because when different groups of people are involved, just like it should have been in the American colonies, everything works out better for the whole.
Below are different students’ voices and opinions on what needs to change in our school. We don’t expect you to do everything we say or even change the way you run our school, but we do ask you to acknowledge our voices and hopefully take our opinions into consideration when you are making changes that affect us.
Teaching Changes
        One of the changes that have been put into play was changing what teachers teach, not just what classes the students are in. I had a history teacher that has been teaching Social Studies for a very long time and I know that she was very passionate about it. A lot of the students have been disappointed to find that a teacher they loved will not be teaching them anymore, myself included. She was an amazing teacher and I have learned so much from her this year. I understand that the school wants every student to get a chance to experience different teachers’ classes, but by completely changing the schedules, the students who were in those classes can’t enjoy them anymore. Even though we all deserve the best education possible, the worst thing to do is to interrupt any of these learning experiences. Instead of switching students and teachers around so that every student is better served, why can’t we make sure that every teacher is able to benefit every student?

Racial Biases
        Another problem is that bias against students because of the race or program they associate with. It is unfair and needs to change. If we had more students involved in decision making, we could change the way different students are treated. Just taking the time to listen and create platforms for students to speak out could change the whole school dynamic. Communication is so important, but it isn’t a one-way street.
One student says, “Students are treated differently because of their skin. As a black student, it sucks that people like me get in trouble and are being suspected of things that other people aren’t.”

Scheduling Implications
        Another issue is that new schedules impact the projects we work on in school. For example, many students were supposed to have the opportunity to work on science fair projects in class since they were started so late. Now students in science fair groups are mainly in different classes and they don’t know if they will be able to finish the project on time. Book clubs were also created in some Language Arts classes so now students will not have a way to continue discussions and meet with their groups in class, these issues were also not made clear with teachers before Tuesday,
One thing that really bothers me is not being able to have collaborative discussions with students from other programs. As an HCC 8th Grader, it had been a helpful experience to share out and have discussions with students in other programs in history, a result of great structured classes by the 2 old 8th grade US History teachers. But now, we don’t have the opportunity to do so as our classes are split among 4-5 teachers and we are unable to collaborate due to the fact we are across the school from another. Blended History used to be something I really looked forward to, and now it seems like a far reach to have any inter-program discussions at all.

Periods, Periods, and more Periods 
        This year the passing periods have also been changed. Last year we had 5 minutes and the schedule and times were easy to memorize, but now we have to remember exactly when class ends and when it starts and it is really confusing. This is in addition to us having to memorize a completely new schedule in the middle of the year.
Also, four minutes is not enough time to get to our classes especially if we need to use the bathroom. I know that as a girl, it can be very inconvenient to have your period because of the bathroom limitations. It’s stressful to have to deal with your period when there’s no time to use the restroom due to the fact that we don’t want to be tardy. Girls can’t plan their periods, sometimes they start during class or passing periods. Girls can’t always wait until a class is over to take care of it. It is very difficult to get from one side of the school to the other and use the bathroom in the middle of it, in four minutes. It’s also very hard to wait until lunch because that is the only time during the day we have time to ourselves to go freely. Passes are not easy to get but it’s also not easy to go outside of class time. In addition to the passing period problem, we are not allowed to go to the bathroom the first or last 10 minutes of class. This is completely unfair because you never know if someone is having an emergency. This goes back to girls getting their periods as well, sometimes going to the bathroom is necessary. It shouldn’t be a shameful thing or a thing to get in trouble for. Even worse are the hall sweeps. If you have a late bus, you had to go to the bathroom, or you’re just late because of traffic and you get caught in the halls, you still get punished even though you were never disrupting any classes.

        This connects to another problem. This year we have to be escorted to the gym or the library during lunch. It’s not like we are going to cause chaos; most of us just want to have some fun during lunch. It’s unfair that we are expected to get to our classes in four minutes but aren’t able to roam freely in the halls during lunch.
We should have our lunch back ( 1, 2, 3, lunches) even though some of the lunch tables are empty, because now that there are only 2 lunches and the lunchroom going to get crowded. Students will want their own table with their own space and friends to hang out which excludes the individual or small groups of students, and even to get a lunch there is going to be a much longer time.

        We could make this better by letting the students have responsibility, be treated like high school students, and be given high responsibility especially since we are close to going to high school and we should be prepared for the future. We should be given high expectations as students here at Washington Middle School, and also be given opportunities like having noticeable input on school decisions
        As a student that goes to Washington, I find that the music program is an important thing that the school has to offer. Without the music program, there’s not much left of our school’s amazing history except our old building. To show you how important the music program is to the students, I decided to ask around, and here are the responses I’ve gathered.
Our first response is from a student in Intermediate Orchestra: “The music program makes me feel like I can learn stuff and have opportunities because we grow each day.”
A student in Senior Choir says “I would say [the music program] makes me feel included and it makes me feel like I am a part of something special.”
A student in Senior Band said: “Music class gives me a time of day I can really be excited about, it’s frustrating that people get taken out of these classes and aren’t able to practice material in class like other students.”
        This next student is in Senior Choir as well: “I love the music program because it gives a chance for me to express myself in a different way and I get to meet new people who I might not be in classes with normally. The music program is also great because the teachers care about us and they want us to learn and do well.” This student was taken out of Senior choir and put into a lower level, Junior Choir. Another student who I had Junior choir with had been taken out abruptly. They asked to not be named and said:
“It brightens my day and honestly it gives me a break so I can get back to focusing on academics after. It's the perfect way to get concentration back.”
    To end this off, the last opinion I'll give is mine, (Senior Choir) “I think that choir, and music in general, gives me a chance to express myself and feel like I’m welcomed. I've met so many people I’d never thought to talk to through choir. I find that it's easier for me to be myself and have fun but also learn a lot about my voice.”
   To have music classes be disrupted has been very disappointing to many students who enjoy what they have previously taken, and that needs to change.
Side Note: these are just some of many opinions, we didn’t want to waste any ink.

        In addition to these changes that are being made, we can’t ignore that in the letters the principal has given us, they show no apology for not communicating to students and families, no regard for raised opinions by the community, and they often blame other sources for problems that have cost us time being educated and much more. She even got the address of our school wrong; it is the address of the school she previously worked at. She also mentions that the changes being made happen often in secondary school, but secondary school is high school and not middle school. We need to be treated like the school we are, and we need our principal to set an example of how to act in these situations, because believe it or not we are all still learning. We understand this is all part of her own principles and values, and understand how hard of a job she has with little state funding, but we think everyone should be able to have a voice in the decisions being made at our school, no matter how much the impact.

        We care about what happens now and in the future. Hopefully, our administration does too. Just like in Colonial America, the power belongs to one group of people. But if we want to be the school that fixes inequities, first we need to fix one of the biggest inequities by giving everyone a voice. We hope that you listen to our concerns and take all these suggestions into consideration, and even if you do not, know that we, the students want our school to be the best it can be, for everyone. Everyone wants to have every school year be amazing and in order for that to happen, you have to listen to us and our opinions. Thank you for reading.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

More Disappointing actions at Washington Middle School

There is apparently another round of  unannounced scheduling chaos and a protest planned around it.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Choosing a High School

Open enrollment starting to get closer. So its time for the annual High school choice thread.
Ask all your questions here.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Last Day to Contact Legislators about HCC Bill SB-5354

We are glad to share the tremendous news that in addition to the Seattle Public Schools Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee we now have a new advocacy group - HiCap Seattle. Please read about this group and about the pending legislation requiring your action by tomorrow, Friday - January 24th. 

Robert Njegovan

HiCap Seattle is a parent group forming in Seattle to build city-wide community among HC/2e families, perform outreach to underserved communities, create safe spaces to share information about HC/2e parenting and education (whether in public, private, or homeschool), and advocate for best practices in equitable identification and service delivery in SPS. We’ll have information about HiCap Seattle and other topics available if interested. We are always looking for volunteers, so contact or join us here:

Dear HiCap Seattle Community,

Hicap equity bill update:
Please contact your state senator BY FRIDAY asking them to support the bipartisan senate bill SB 5354-2019/2020. A companion house bill is forthcoming, and we will send out an update on it when it drops. (Si usted necesita la ayuda en traducciones, por favor pĆ³ngase en contacto con Erik, y haremos arreglos para ayudarle.)

This senate bill includes provisions that will address certain key equity-related issues in all of the state's hicap programs, not just in Seattle, but it needs to get a hearing to advance in the legislature. This bill does not address all equity-related reforms, but it is our starting point this session, and it is crucial for the bill to advance. Please spread the word. We've included some talking points in the attached document -- but also write about the specific issues that are important to you. Sincere discussion of your family's experiences can be highly effective, but try to keep the length on the short side (under about 500 words).

Find your state senator:

West Seattle HS AL Meeting

Advanced Learning Parent Information Night-WSHS

West Seattle High School(WSHS) will be hosting a meeting on February 12th, 7pm-8pm, in the WSHS Library to share and discuss the upcoming transition of the Seattle Public School’s Highly Capable Cohort(HCC) into West Seattle High School. This will include the overall District and WSHS vision for High School HCC/Advanced Learning programming and changes associated with providing equitable access to advanced coursework while preparing all students for future success. The agenda will include a presentation and time for questions and answers. In order to provide as much information as possible and to focus on what is relevant to you, please use the following form to ask questions you would like answered at the meeting.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

2019-2020 Budget Woes

In the midst of the HS discussions I was chatting privately with a teacher about science pathways and he mentioned everything is in flux due to the pending budget cuts/reduction in staff for next year.   This comes on top of news that the district is proposing cutting back librarians at all the middle and high schools to 1/2 time.   On top of that, because of my participation in the JAMS BLT I'm also seeing the cutbacks effects directly at the school.

The point of these separate observations is that advanced learning rise and falls with the district as a whole and we're really at a crisis point.  This is the time to get activity lobbying at the district and state level to fix the funding situation. If something does not change, the quality of education is not going to be the same next year and going forward.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Monday, January 14, 2019

January 25th Gifted Education Day

Message from David Berg, NWGCA Board Member:

January 25th is Gifted Education Day in Washington state. Each year, students, teachers, administrators, parents, and advocates join together at our state capital to celebrate and support highly capable programming. It is an opportunity for students to tour the capitol and see our government at work, and for advocates to remind our legislators of the importance of the programs that serve these kids and kids like them. We invite you to join us in the Columbia Room in the capitol building at 9:30 AM on the 25th for a brief program. 

Afterwards, we encourage you to visit the offices of your legislators to tell them why gifted education matters and what they can do to improve the services available to our students.  Please call your legislators today to make appointments to meet with each of them on January 25. Legislator appointments are short, usually 15-30 minutes, and it's fine to bring a group. They love meeting and hearing from kids directly! If you RSVP, the coalition will email you advocacy materials that you can discuss with your legislators during your meeting. Appointments after 11 AM will allow you to hear the whole morning program in the Columbia Room, though it's fine to step out if that's the only appointment you can get. There is a cafe on the capitol campus where you can buy lunch, or bring a brown bag lunch to eat in the Columbia Room. 

To find your legislator, please text your zip code to (520) 200-2223 and you'll get a return text with your legislators' names and phone numbers.

Please RSVP to

 9:30 Welcome and Introductions David Berg, President 
 9:45 Recognition of Edmonds Challenge Program as a Blue Ribbon School 
         Chris Reykdal, SPI, and David Berg 
10:00 Award of Certificates of Appreciation 
10:15 OSPI update on the Highly Capable Program 
10:30 Questions and Discussion 
11:00 Meetings with Legislators

Friday, December 7, 2018

HCS AC Survey Summary

Thanks to each and every one of you who provided direction and feedback in our October survey about the state of HCS in SPS. We greatly appreciate the time you took to express your opinions and support. After reviewing roughly 140 respondents' text comments, the summary breakdown follows (a complete set of responses will be provided upon request). It is worth noting, many respondents shared concerns about the direction of the HC services with the numerous cohort splits and unsupportive administrators. In addition, we have included the summary results from the 239 non-text queries that showed the majority of respondents were not confident that the District is prepared to offer equitable rigorous curriculum,  cohesive cohorts and appropriate building sites and that 44% who contacted the District or Board regarding concerns received no response. Please let us know your thoughts after you've looked over these materials - we would like to include you in upcoming updates and planning efforts for advocacy.
Top-line takeaways

9 Percent of the respondents stated support for continuing the cohort model.
12 Percent of the respondents stated concerns about the disparity of services delivery (especially north versus south of the ship canal).  
17 Percent of the respondents stated concerns about Washington Middle School administration.
25 Percent of the respondents stated concerns about systematic HC services dismantling.

Other common themes were:
Support for single domain “HC” services.
Support for universal testing across all schools.
Concerns about continuing cohort splits.
Need for neighborhood schools to offer meaningful HC services.
Need for more racial diversity.
Concerns about Fairmount Elementary services being discontinued.
Concern that the current Advanced Learning Task Force does not have enough HCC families/staff represented.
Concerns about services being delivered  without necessary rigor and an established curriculum.
Concerns with the lack of District engagement while making wholesale changes.

Notable quotes (extracted and redacted):
My daughter has graduated 201X was not super affected by the changes luckily. She was one of the students from underrepresented  population. I am vocal about more inclusion for sure. I have noticing that SPS has been breaking up the cohorts. The resources do not seem to be the same at north and south. It almost look like they want to dismantle the program.  From my experience, my child needed the academic challenges at HCP. Without it, she would been bored and not been prepared for selective colleges. This is an important program especially for underrepresented students to be more competitive to get into good colleges and receive scholarships/ financial aid from colleges. I am not sure if SPS understands the importance of this program.”

“SPS appears to be slowly dismantling HCC. There is an apparent attitude, that I heard directly from a school board member, that HCC kids don’t have needs beyond the basic education classes. No one would dare say that about any other population, whether it’s a minority population, a Special Ed population, or any other population with exceptional needs. Every kid deserves a classroom environment that meets their needs…”

The changes have been confusing, and as a parent, hard to understand. It seems that the district wants to do away with the HC cohort, but doesn't have a good plan what to do after. Superintendent Juneau needs to get out of the JSCEE bubble/dogma and talk to a diverse range of AL/HC families about how best to meet our kids's needs.  Equity is not just about race. The HCC program at Washington Middle School is seriously comprised this year. I do not think my daughter is receiving anything near acceptable instruction in math and science in particular followed by ElA.”

Happy holidays!
The Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee (HCS AC)

Link to PDF with the data:

Thursday, December 6, 2018

'18 December Open Thread

Since open enrollment is gettng closer I'll be setting up some threads to discuss choosing high schools and perhaps a general one on choosing a school very soon.
What's on your minds?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Questions for the new Superintendent

This is on my mind recently:  In theory, if you were meeting with Denise Juneau what would you most like to politely talk with her about?

Monday, November 5, 2018

November '18 Open Thread

I'm copying this announcement over for this month:

"Due to increasing enrollment and growth in the northwest region, the Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Licton Springs K-8 campus is unable to accommodate the number of students assigned in future years. Two classroom portables were already added for the 2018-19 school year, and student enrollment is expected to increase. 
In addition to serving neighborhood students, Robert Eagle Staff is a Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) pathway school, serving students who live in the Robert Eagle Staff and Whitman middle school service areas. This cohort of students is also growing.
Student enrollment growth in the region and growth of the HCC population has resulted in building capacity constraints that need to be addressed. District staff have been exploring options to address these capacity challenges. 
Potential options will be shared with families at two upcoming community meetings. No decisions have been made. Staff will share scenarios being considered, answer questions, and listen to your feedback. 
Potential options:
*Create an additional Highly Capable pathway at Whitman Middle School and assign students receiving Highly Capable (HC) services to Robert Eagle Staff Middle School and Whitman Middle School based on where students live. HC eligible students living in the Whitman attendance area would receive HC services at Whitman, and students living in the Robert Eagle Staff attendance area would continue to receive HC services at Robert Eagle Staff. 
*Move Licton Springs K-8 school to the Webster School building in Fall 2020. As a result of this move, both Licton Springs and Robert Eagle Staff would have their own buildings rather than be co-located. 
*Make Licton Springs a K-5 school given the lower enrollment at grades 6-8. 
*Adjust Olympic View Elementary feeder pattern so that all Olympic View students would be assigned to Jane Addams Middle School rather than the current split of Olympic View between Robert Eagle Staff and Jane Addams Middle School. 
The same information will be presented at both meetings. 
Wed., Nov. 7, 2018
6:30–7:30 p.m.
Robert Eagle Staff Middle School Commons
1330 N. 90th Street, Seattle 
Tues., Nov. 13 2018
6:30–7:30 p.m.
Whitman Middle School Library
9201 15th Avenue NW, Seattle 
Any changes will take effect in school year 2019-20 if approved by the Seattle School Board. If you have any questions, please email"

What's on your minds?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Highly Capable Services Advisory Committee Survey

Members of the HCSAC are trying to continue advocacy efforts independently despite the official pause.  I'm very much in favor of parents organizing so please take some time to fill out their survey.

The members of the HCS AC seek your input about key topics that face our students and families now and in the future. Please complete this 2-minute survey to shape unified advocacy efforts for service delivery.
Your voice matters! Thank you for taking time to offer your quick input. 

Monday, October 8, 2018

HCS AC Email

In addition to the news the committee has been suspended. The following letter on WMS was sent out last  night:

Director DeWolf and Director Burke:

I attended the Board Meeting this evening with the many other concerned Washington MS parents that stood behind Christine Shigaki while she gave her public testimony.  I want to thank you both for specifically acknowledging the concerns at Washington.  Because of the limited time available at the meeting, I wanted to put my thoughts in this email to the both of you.  I know you each have thousands of emails to process, but I was gratified to know that you actually read each of them.  

I am a lifelong Seattle resident and proud product of the public school system in Seattle (Graham Hill ES, Sharples nka Aki Kurose MS, Franklin HS, UW BSEE, UW JD).  I have three children in the school system now, each in the HCC program.  One is at Thurgood Marshall ES (Principal May), one is at Garfield HS (Principal Howard), and one is at Washington MS (Principal Butler-Ginolfi).  Our family is about as invested in the past, current, and future success of the public schools as any family in Seattle.

I have never commented on any school in the district before.  But I feel compelled to do so for the first time after seeing the destruction of a good southend school like Washington.  In short, this is the current situation: 

  • As you know, WMS houses the southend’s HCC middle school program, with over half of the students in HCC.  This year saw the arrival of a new principal.  During the first week, and without any prior warning, the principal proposed online math classes, cut out foreign languages, produced a schedule with enormous class sizes for HCC core classes.  After attending curriculum night, it was clear to me that many teachers were dismayed with the changes and that parents were in open revolt.  Science classes had 15 textbooks to be shared amongst 37 students.  The only explanation from leadership was that “equity” demanded taking away resources from HCC students.  

  • That argument is a red herring.  The parents expect (and in fact demand) that our schools can adequately handle more than a single academic program.  Plenty of other schools in the district can do so.  Thurgood Marshall and  Garfield can do it, why not WMS?  It’s a fallacy that it's a zero sum game - success of gen-ed and HCC programs are not mutually exclusive.  We are simply asking the principal at Washington to do what previous principals have done and other schools have done.  It is not asking her too much to "walk and chew gum at the same time".  Yes, it’s a hard job – no one disputes that.  But if leadership isn’t up to it, it’s time for a change.  Or alternatively, if the principal is unable to support what she perceives HCC represents, perhaps moving the program to another school with a more capable principal is appropriate?

  • The bad situation is exacerbated because of lack of communication.  I have sent 5+ emails to the Principal, to Sara Pritchett, to Mike Starosky, to Superintendent Juneau over the past month.  In each of the emails I offer to meet with them in person for as little as fifteen minutes.  Not a single email has been replied to.  If leadership is inundated with emails from parents on this issue, then that in and of itself is a sign that something is seriously wrong.  If however my emails are the only ones leadership is getting, then that is even more inexcusable that I do not receive the courtesy of a reply.  I think what is lost is that the district works for the parents, not the other way around.  It is part of the job of every employee in the district to be responsive.  Fundamentally to me, it is a lack of courage on the part of leadership to face a parent who has concerns about the education of their child. 

  • Parents deserve clarity on whether or not the district will support the southend HCC program.  As was mentioned tonight, the threat/opportunity of charter schools in Seattle opens up the possibility of competition for students.  Someone at the meeting openly mused about why students are leaving the district.  Lack of clarity and support for programs is certainly a contributing factor.  I think you will find that parents would even accept if the Board decided to no longer have an HCC program – we understand hard choices must be made.  What is not acceptable however is obfuscation and lack of transparency.  Parents need to have clear information so that we can make educational choices.  Having lived through the 70’s an 80’s in the public schools, I know what a death spiral for the public schools looks like.  And it begins with frustration on the part of parents, because once students start to leave the district, it is exceedingly hard to change the momentum.  

  • The Board has talked about equity and justice in the HCC program.  I absolutely agree with recruiting of more students from underrepresented populations.  But why recruit them if we won't support them in the southend where the majority of underrepresented students would be? 

  • Equity also means fairness between the northend HCC pathway and the southend HCC pathway.  Why is it that Hamilton, Adams, and Eagle Staff have increased curriculum options/activities?  Does the southend get a watered down HCC curriculum?  Is this the Districts policy?  If so, please let us know so that we can adjust our educational choices

I hope that my comments have been helpful.  Please take them in the spirit they are given.

With warmest regards,


Chun M. Ng