Seattle School Board Takes Steps to Dismantle Gifted Program



Thanks for this. I am a parent of two HCC kids; we're a white family. We fervently support improving equity and adopting some of the techniques already proven in other districts to get the HCC program to reflect the diversity of the district’s student body. Every other HCC parent I have spoken to also agrees with this goal—the district has done a great job communicating the racial and ethnic disparities and making a case for change.

But their case, as you note in this article, is to destroy the program…in order to save it? HCC has been wildly successful and, most people outside of SPS and HCC don't realize this, gets no special funding. The programs are run as regular classrooms. The ratios are at times better, sometimes far worse than general ed.

SPS’s current solution to programs that were founded out of a segregationist impulse and that disproportionately serve white kids and Asian kids (kids of Asian descent have the same percentage representation in HCC as in the SPS population at large) and are successful should be blown up instead of providing these opportunities on a fair and inclusive basis to the families and children harmed by their exclusion.

I don't get it. While I favor my kids' inclusion because of their advanced learning and other characteristics, if it meant my kids losing their spot to make the program more equitable? We would all cope with it, you know? But the whole program being destroyed instead of lifting up more kids—baffling.


Nice reporting by the Stranger here. I can't believe that the Seattle School district is dismantling the HCC middle school program south of the ship canal in the name of equity. I bet in two years, we'll hear that now they need to disband the remaining HCC programs in the north to make it fair. They did it with the Spectrum program, and now they are repeating history with HCC. It's hard to believe that they are in the business of educating.


The "equity" left tripping over themselves to bring in a charter school program run by ex-Microsofties.

And TAF scores in Federal Way?

Students enrolled                         635
Met math standard                       30.8%
Met ELA standard                        45.2%
Met Science standard                  32.4%
Spending per pupil                       $14,359
Students regularly attend             74.9

Basically garbage.

And remember in this discussion, Asians are NOT "people of color".


Crazy Seattle.
Sad Seattle.
Such self-destructive behavior in the interest of trying to look good.


@4 I went to a north end school that was plurality asian. However, it was mostly SE Asians - refugees and the children of refugees. Unlike Korean, Chinese and Japanese kids, these kids came from working and working-class families and were not especially represented in the honors and AP courses (although east asians were likely over-represented, and were a minority of the asian students at my HS). I think it's a mistake to lump them in with "white-adjacent" East Asians.


Sadly, removing the HC cohort only removes it from low income neighborhoods, which have more people of color. Wealthy neighborhoods will still have lots of access to advanced learning because a larger portion of the school tests into that level and they have the money to fund it. SPS has just removed opportunities for low income kids, who against all odds, succeeded.


To add to the story:
-TAF will not just get to help pick teachers but also the principal which is a huge thing for any school.
-This is a 10-year commitment which is along time. I think there might be check-ins along the way.
- I never heard anything about comparing the STEM program already at Cleveland High with TAF. Once again, we don’t see proper alignment if programs.
-DeWolf always makes any topic somehow circle back to him. As someone who sat thru hundreds of hours of Board meetings, it’s truly the height of arrogance to make a difficult, long meeting even longer.
-It is truly a mistake for Hampson to be VP and it shows. She is supposed to unite parents, not divide them. She seems to love to bully people and smack them down. And she’s been on the Board about 6 weeks.
-There is a new Senate bill on highly capable programming that the Times is endorsing (which instantly makes me suspicious).


This whole sad circus reminds me of that East coast school board that was taken over by private school parents. This board is anti intellectual and pro charter. They just gave away a school to a private company for 10 years. If the Supreme court rules like people think they will about forcing equal funding for religious schools as public, they've opened the floodgates in Seattle for the next 10 years while simultaneously making life worse for thousands of kids.


Piggy backing everyone’s grades on the more intelligent children via group projects.

That’ll prepare the the coattail-riders for nothing, ever.

If math is a colonialist construct, you’re welcome.


The charter school part of this seems like a red herring. They're running it under the Seattle school board, so it's not really a charter but something a bit different. It's also not necessarily a bad idea and may end up helping out some kids.

As far as getting rid of HCC, this shouldn't surprise anyone. This is about equity, getting rid of a program that benefits bright, mostly white and asian kids and replacing it with one that will, hopefully, benefit black boys, or those furthest from educational justice as they're known in the superintendent's office. Sure, there are some minorities in the HCC program, 1.6% are black for example, compared with 15% in the wider school system. Universal testing in the Tier 1 schools increased this from 1.3% to 1.6%, it's ridiculous to think that testing on weekends is going to make up the order of magnitude needed to make this equal.

Which gets back to equity. The HCC program provides a challenging environment to capable and well prepared kids, who are skewed towards white, asian, and rich. There are of course some exceptions, but not many. At it's core, it's providing a great opportunity to those who are already well prepared, which is another way of saying it's maintaining their privilege. If you look at the school board's campaigns, they talked a lot about equity and closing the achievement gap. They didn't talk a lot about challenging and getting the highest potential from gifted students. In short, they're doing exactly what they said they'd do when they were elected.


Excellent comment MikeXW.
The superintendent has made it her mission to close the achievement gap by whatever means necessary. The HCC program has a reputation of catering to parents who seek some sort of exclusive experience. To get into HCC it depends on your MAP scores which is a standardized test Given to all Seattle public school students. If your student doesn’t score high enough, the workaround is to go to a private shrink and get the results you want, which Seattle public schools has to accept. Parents who are savvy and seek that exclusive experience will get their kids into HCC.
I teach for Seattle public schools and from my experience the biggest issue with the achievement gap is lack of family involvement. We need to get African-American families more involved.
Moreover, the consequence of this is it going to be more enrollment in private schools. Privileged families will opt for private school if public school isn’t meeting their needs - which will further separate the privledged from the poor.


@13. The MAP score is only one of the criteria needed for access to HCC. In addition to scoring 95% or higher on the MAP, students must score a 98% or higher on an intelligence or achievement test. SPS used to test with the Dog at, but I believed has switched to the Naglieri non verbal assessment tests, which are more accurate for 2e and all students.

If you are a Seattle teacher, you should know how admittance to this program works, and why families often choose it for their students. Students who are often unhappy in their classrooms because teachers either don't believe that they are "truly gifted" or don't know how to effectively differentiate between kids learning at several standard deviations above the main groups of their classmates.

Or Principals that refuse to offer Walk to Math. Or seperate all the advanced kids from each other by spreading them out among the classrooms in their grades, so they don't have peers within their classes. Or who allow ostracization of these kids (I'm talking young elementary here), who have play ideas way ahead of their age peers, but often social skills way behind.

I'm very tired of the trope that HCC is a goal, a status symbol, an exclusionary program that the parents don't want others to attend. Every family I met was relieved once they showed up there, realized that the kids are just kids, not mini robots, and that the other parents and teachers finally understood them. No one wanted to take that away from any other kid, and certainly not from a kid of color, as is so often said. It is still SPS overcrowded classes and SPS out-of-date curricula. Nothing special, no extra cost (except testing and bussing, both paid for by the state), just an education of understanding and acceptance for kids.


SPS board pushed this through as the outcome was predetermined. Zac de wolf has no patience for Parents of color or alumni of color who spoke on behalf of their kids and their positive experience in HCC.
-Why close HCC cohort at Washington middle school but northend HCC programs stay open? Equity my ass.
-Why not consider other options: incorporating TAF (which is underpeforming in Federal Way SD) with the existing cohort at WMS and keeping HCC?
-Why not consider banning HCC testing by private providers? That and weekend testing and more outreach to POC and immigrant groups. Work towards equity!it's your job if you're the school board or Juneau.

Oh, and while this was all happening, school board and Juneau were letting an abusive teacher (charged by the police even!) keep teaching. De Wolf protected a predator. His career is over even if he doesn't know it yet.


The HCC program has a reputation of catering to parents who seek some sort of exclusive experience.
We need to get African-American families more involved.

I sure hope the tokenized Black parent in the article reads these words, which will surely steer them to a path to help all the children, not just theirs.


@16. "Tokenized black parent" seems a bit reductionist and also a way to avoid the valid experiences of someone. Was the African American business woman, HC alum who spoke at the board meeting just a "token" or does she have a valid experience and argument?

It seems that some parents do seek specific education pathways for their kids. Others may feel their kids do better in mainstream classes. SPS is trying to mandate that parents not seek specific pathways like HCC. News flash: those parents are just going to go for charter and private schools. Which is a multiple level loss for SPS (less revenue being the most tangible loss but also, for instance, fewer high achieving students of color).


I pretty much assume if SCC wants it, it's probably a bad idea. This sounds like a potential devil you know situation.


congrats to the private schools who'll get all that talent. If they get rid of HCC, my kid and their classmates will be in private school, too. FU SPS.


I was completely unmotivated in HS except for my AP classes. I had a top 3% SAT score and won a national science contest just to fight boredom, then got a C in health because I refused to do "read and copy the answer" homework. So much for being a world class city..., UW will be recruiting exclusively out of area.


I wish the Stranger did much more real news like this excellent story.


Time to take your kids out of that school, or just have them use it as free daycare while they get their real education at home.


The good news: This was excellent, balanced reporting. I watched the school board meeting, and this summary is completely accurate. Thank you.
The bad news: SPS has reached a new low. To watch the many POC parents testimonies to save the cohort and then hear the board dismiss their pleas was heartbreaking. This is a political move the cripple the HC cohort model, and the first to suffer are the ones who need it the most.