Education

Seattle's School System Has Begun Dismantling Its Gifted Programs

Parents should be able to respond to this blunt dismissal of their children's needs by taking their business elsewhere.

|

As if to demonstrate why school choice matters, Seattle's education system is purposefully dismantling a program to serve its gifted students at one of its schools—and completely ignoring parents' wishes in the process.

In January, the Seattle School Board voted to partner with a nonprofit to improve the curriculum of Washington Middle School. Unfortunately, these changes are coming at the expense of the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) program, an extremely popular gifted program that lets students who score well on standardized tests participate in specialized classes in which they study material several grade levels higher than the ordinary curriculum.

The program has historically been dominated by white and Asian students, to the frustration of folks who want to see more diversity in such offerings. But rather than working to improve access for minorities, some school leaders—including Superintendent Denise Juneau—decided that the gifted classes are a form of "redlining," which is the historical practice of not granting mortgages to people who live in minority communities. The Seattle Public School District thus wants to kill off the HCC program. The changes at Washington Middle School are just the start, district leaders hope.

As The Stranger's Katie Herzog reports, the parents of minority kids in the program are particularly unhappy at the prospect of their children going back to regular classes. "My request is that you please consider the disservice you would be doing to the minorities that are already in the HCC program," Herzog heard one father testify to the school district. "The program does more for black children, particularly black boys, than it does for their peers."

Other minority parents told Herzog similar stories about the life-saving potential of gifted classes. "Their kids…get bored in the general ed classroom, and then [they] end up being tagged as disruptive when what they need is just accelerated curriculum," Herzog wrote.

Only 1.6 percent of the HCC program's participants are African-American. But for those kids' parents, that's a reason to expand it, not end it. One parent told Herzog that Juneau hadn't talked to minority parents who have kids in the program to get their feedback. Instead, School Board Director Chandra Hampson claimed that these families were being "tokenized" and used by white people to maintain the program.

Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat is baffled by those at the school district who would rather eliminate a successful program than try to enlarge its reach. He cites one school administrator who reportedly told a parent that the program leads to "opportunity hoarding" by the privileged.

That kind of zero-sum argument can lead to a dark place. "Undoing such hoarding 'is delicate territory,' the scholar Richard Reeves explained a few years back, because 'improving rates of upward relative mobility from the bottom comes with a sting in the tail: it requires more downward mobility from the top,'" Westneat wrote. Yet "educational opportunity isn't a capped resource (at least it doesn't have to be). In the HCC program, for example, there aren't a fixed number of slots, like in, say, admission to a selective college."

It should be horrifying to any parent that there are school districts run by bureaucrats who think educational equality means not just improving opportunities and outcomes for students who are behind the curve but also impeding students who are moving faster than average. What's more, this isn't happening just in Seattle. Reason's Matt Welch has written about a similar fight in New York City to abolish gifted programs at public schools.

"This is a debate about what is the role and purpose of a public school district," Seattle parent Chun Ng told Westneat. "Is it to get every kid to a basic standard? Or is it to foster the potential of every kid? What the district is proposing here is like Medicaid, sort of a broad safety-net approach. It's understandable because, like with Medicaid, they have people falling through the cracks. But if you want more than that, I guess you have to go to private school."

And that, ultimately, is why school choice is so important. Parents should be able to respond to Juneau's blunt dismissal of their children's needs by taking their business elsewhere.

Advertisement

NEXT: Brickbat: Are You Now or Have You Ever Been?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. “As The Stranger’s Katie Herzog reports, the parents of minority kids in the program are particularly unhappy at the prospect of their children going back to regular classes.”

    they’re just getting slightly different babysitters; relax.

  2. I am now making 65 Dollars/h by doing a very simple and easy online work from home. I have received exactly $8471 last month from this online work. To start making extra income Just follow the instructions on…
    More Read Here

  3. To be fair, when the school board voted to change the name of the school from Washington Middle School to Harrison Bergeron Average School, you should have considered yourself forewarned.

    1. Wait, my mistake, I just saw where they didn’t change the name to Harrison Bergeron Average, they decided to go with Procrustes Median instead.

      1. You’re not funny

        1. You’re not enlightening.

    2. “Harrison Bergeron Average School,”

      +2

  4. Not too toot my own horn I’m currently pursuing my PhD in chemistry, and without advanced classes I would’ve almost certainly killed my self in high school the ordinary classes I was forced to take were almost enough to do me in.

    1. This post is a perfect example of why we need the preview button back.

    2. I was happy with a BS in CS, but yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about.

    3. Gifted children are also special needs children.
      Without work that challenges their abilities, they’re unlikely to gain the work habits or self-control that most children have to learn to overcome those challenges.
      They’ll skate by, and worse, they’ll still “succeed”.

      Government schools are child abuse *by design*. It’s the ruling class stomping on the potential of their children’s competition. If you can’t afford a private school, and they work hard to make sure that you can’t, you’re not one of *them*, and so your promise and future must be stifled to ensure that *their* children remain on top.

      “The only thing they are afraid of is losing their power.”

      1. “The only thing they are afraid of is losing their power.” — which describes almost all [WE] foundational (i.e. National Socialists) terrorist groups.

    4. I had a similar experience. I would have been exceptionally bored without the advanced classes, exceptionally in high school. When you have the opportunity for children to excel from a young age, you can have them going into college as sophomores and juniors due to AP classes. Those are your future doctors, engineers, and lawyers. That is especially true for children on the borderline. The bright child of a poor family for whom deciding between being a working class stiff or going to college for a chance to become a boss is a difficult decision.

  5. The program has historically been dominated by white and Asian students, to the frustration of folks who want to see more diversity in such offerings.

    So, “folks”–set up your own “offerings” and be *really* frustrated.

  6. The program has historically been dominated by white and Asian students, to the frustration of folks who want to see more diversity in such offerings. But rather than working to improve access for minorities, some school leaders—including Superintendent Denise Juneau—decided that the gifted classes are a form of “redlining,” which is the historical practice of not granting mortgages to people who live in minority communities.

    Goes to show how stupid these local school district officials can be. Banks not giving mortgages based on racism is NOTHING like certain races of kids performing so well on tests that they earn a spot in a special class.

    To the non-White and non-Asians kids…score higher to get into the special class. Don’t dumb down the education of smart kids to satisfy this Commie bullshit that “Each according to his ability….:

    1. He cites one school administrator who reportedly told a parent that the program leads to “opportunity hoarding” by the privileged.

      You wanna save stupider kids, or increase their opportunities, go freaking right ahead. But it’s been long shown society gets tremendous advantage from the gifted, and devoting just a fraction of the money spent making sure every yokel count change to educating the gifted.

      And that’s assuming a zero sum game in either money or hordable opportunities!

      You work to raise kids up, not tear down bright kids ready to move now.

    2. Unequal outcomes are by definition unfair. If they’re unequal by race, they are by definition racist. You know this.

    3. Best comment I’ve ever read and deserves a lot of copy & paste

      sparkstable
      March.3.2020 at 3:11 pm

      Equality without the qualifier as “equal in rights” or “equal before the law” is either an ignorant or (more likely the case among educated liberals) malicious obfuscation of the idea of equality.

      Equality of outcomes is only possible in a world where equality of rights or equality before the law is thrown out the window.

  7. Harrison Bergeron. It doesn’t take long to read. But the school board has obviously never read it.

    1. Some real Glampers on that board.

    2. “Harrison Bergeron. It doesn’t take long to read. But the school board has obviously never read it.”

      Or they look at it less as a warning and more as an aspiration.

    3. They probably divide into two overlapping groups: Those who read as little as possible and would never have read “Harrison Bergeron”. And those that are eaten up by envy and would approve of Diana Moon Glampers if they ever heard of her.

      I think most of my school principals would have been in the overlap of those two groups.

  8. Opportunity hoarders and opportunity wreckers

  9. “Opportunity hoarding” — that’s clever. Who says Progressives have no sense of humor? They are just trolling now.

    And this — “The program does more for black children, particularly black boys, than it does for their peers.” — oh Dad, never should have said it particularly helps boys, that’s just more fuel for their cause.

    1. oh Dad, never should have said it particularly helps boys, that’s just more fuel for their cause.

      Especially black boys. Doesn’t this uppity n***er know that a black boys’ place is in prison? What else does he think public schools are conditioning them for? Real life? Pfffft, whatever. /sarc

  10. We are living a mini-version of this in our school. Our son’s middle school just got assigned a new principle. By all accounts, he’s reviled by the staff.

    He’s openly hostile to the magnet program – which puts a gifted mini-school in the middle of a failing school in order to raise scores and avoid a state takeover. He apparently wants to dissolve the magnet and put the kids in the regular classes. Race probably plays a prominent role – as is the norm for these magnet situations, the demographics of the two groups are wildly different.

    The new principle seems to be putting a lot of emphasis on Black History and athletics. He reputedly wants to kill off the language and STEAM programs along with the magnet.

    The magnet student body includes the kids of the Mayor, a load of teachers kids from around the school system and plenty of well-connected business owner’s kids. You’d think that they’d be able to stamp this out…. but the wheels of bureaucracy turn slow. He’s been on the job for half a year now, and it took until Christmas for everyone to go from “give the guy a chance” to “what is going on over there” to “we have to do something”.

    Meanwhile, the kids are losing out – they don’t get a do-over on these important years. Getting into the magnet high school is everything…. and space is limited. It is the best school around, $30k per year private schools included. Pretty much all of the kids end up on scholarship somewhere – loads of them in the ivy league. So burning a year for these middle school kids when they are on the track to get into that special high school can have life-altering consequences.

    So I empathize with these parents who are dealing with this stuff. Taking a few years to figure out how best to handle the situation isn’t really an option – but that’s what it takes. Real school choice would certainly help that situation. Around here we have a degree of choice within the school system. Or you can pay for private education. There really is no choice if you can’t pay and you don’t like the way the school system is run.

    1. Back in the 1990s I read a fabulous book called From Dawn to Decadence. It is by this amazing Frenchman named Jacques Barzun, who was in his 90s at the time and seemed to literally know everything about the intellectual history of the West.

      One of the many very smart things he said in that book, though I was skeptical of it at the time, was that the scam that is public education was not going to last forever. Barzun was certain that sooner or later the public would realize how much money it was wasting and how damaging it had been to intellectual life and just stop funding the scam. Twenty five years later, I am firmly convinced that Barzun was right. And I think we are closer to it happening than anyone realizes. The whole thing is just absurd.

      1. We are spending more money than ever per pupil and the youngest two generations are stereotypically stupid.

        1. That’s because the money is going to the layers of useless middle managers and such, not the kids.

      2. Thank you for the reading suggestion; I will check it out.

        Hope it’s published in English, but if not it will only help my French comprehension, no?

  11. To be fair, when the school board voted to change the name of the school from Washington Middle School to Harrison Bergeron Average School, you should have considered yourself forewarned.

    1. Diana Moon Glampers smiles.

  12. They will move elsewhere. Parents will just move to other districts or put their kids in private schools. The losers in all of this are the kids whose parents are too poor to do that and any home owner in the Seattle School District who will see their home values tank as a result of this.

  13. I can’t believe you clingers are upset about this! Gifted programs are welfare for the clingers. They only exist because the racist parents Dont want their kids interacting with brown kids! They will soon have the culture war rammed down their neck! Everyone will learn the exact same cariculum of white people bad, government good, clingers die from boot on neck

    1. “They only exist because the racist parents Don’t want their kids interacting with brown kids!”
      – The dictators MUST enslave everyone to ensure those few unreasonable parents NEVER get what they want because the [WE] foundation knows better than they do.

  14. /super sarc

    A better solution would be to move all the kids that were in the gifted class to the regular class, and then to make up the lost time to the kids in the regular class move them to the gifted class. Hell to make it more comfortable and easier on the kids have the teachers switch too!

    1. That is pretty much happened to our schools in the 70s when the Federal District Judge ordered desegregation; both kids and teachers were moved across town. Any and all concern about actual education in those years took a good second place to social engineering.

      1. +1000; keyword -> social engineering… The dictators utopian dream. Hail Hitler!!!

  15. I went through this in the 80s. I was so fucking bored that I was fucking off and getting shitty grades. They wanted to put me with lc and the other retards, but luckily my mom raised a stink. Finally they put me into some challenging classes and I my grades went back to being stellar.

    This really sucks for the smart kids. Not allowing them to have challenging classes that exercise their minds will effect them for the rest of their lives.

    1. My kingdom for an edit button!

      1. How about your 401k? That would cost you a bit less right now.

        1. Oh man, I haven’t been keeping track. Don’t even want to look.

    2. I had something similar happen to me. In first grade I was labelled as “slow” because I was bored and would stop paying attention in class. So they put me in the bottom group, one step above “special ed.”* It wasn’t until 3rd grade when I had a teacher who finally noticed “hey, this kid isn’t dumb like these other retards, he’s bored out of his mind.” So I finally started moving up the ladder and by year’s end I was in the top group one level below the “gifted” program (which my sister was in pretty much from the start, so not only did I have to deal with the embarrassment of basically being told I was stupid, but I had to deal with having an older sister who was “gifted” – I’m sure that did wonders for my self esteem).

      By middle school I was all set to be in the gifted program but then my family moved from TX to CA, and in CA there was no gifted program. I assume they’d already gotten rid of it because “racism.” It wasn’t until HS that I felt like I had any kind of real challenge and even then, taking all honors classes, I pretty much breezed through with little real effort except for a few classes.

      *Which of course was really just a dumping ground for the kids who really did have cognitive problems as well as the fuck ups who simply didn’t want to be in school in the first place – a situation which I’m sure really helped the truly learning disabled.

      1. I can completely empathize on all levels.

  16. And the number of white urban progressives who will happily send their snowflake offspring to schools where the curriculum for middle school is still basic learning to read, write, add and subtract, plus history on how evil white cis-gendered people have been is not a number, it’s zero!

  17. not just improving opportunities and outcomes for students who are behind the curve but also impeding students who are moving faster than average.

    Haven’t you people been paying attention??? We have to flatten the curve any way we can!

    1. The objective is to achieve an equality of outcome, not opportunity. The important thing is that no one has any possible cause to feel aggressed [sic], unsafe, underprivileged, and contrarily superior or advantaged in any possible way.

      If you want to be better get woke and be a faithful adherent of the orthodoxy.

      That is utopia, no hurt feelings.

  18. “opportunity hoarding” by the privileged.

    Now ranks right up there with “chardonnay wisdom”

  19. Peter Hitchens referred to this kind of thing as the revolution that was fought, starting in the 60s in which all the buildings are left standing and no one fired a shot.

  20. Looking for some added source of income? This is how you can make a decent income every month! Try it for yourself!
    After being without work for 6 months, I started completing a simple online work over this website I found online,and I couldn’t be happier now.
    Results… After 3 months of doing this my monthly income increased by $8900 per month by working for just several hours per week…
    Start by following the instructions here…………..W­­­W­­­­W­­­­­.­­­­­n­­­e­­w­­b­­­­o­­­x­­3.­­­­C­­­­o­­­­m­­­­

  21. “Only 1.6 percent of the HCC program’s participants are African-American. But for those kids’ parents, that’s a reason to expand it, not end it. One parent told Herzog that Juneau hadn’t talked to minority parents who have kids in the program to get their feedback. Instead, School Board Director Chandra Hampson claimed that these families were being “tokenized” and used by white people to maintain the program.”

    It’s an insidious KKKonspiracy to make the non-gifted black students look bad.

    I’m fairly sure the number of black students in the gifted program could be increased, at least a little, if gifted black youngsters were actually encouraged to develop their gifts and not hassled for trying to be “white.”

    “To Be Young, Gifted and Black” remains a liability in the eyes of the dumber students, and those who don’t want to learn and are aware at some level that the smarter students make them look bad.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/To_Be_Young,_Gifted_and_Black_(play)

    1. Another victim of ghetto culture.
      Until the black people in America address the problem of ghetto culture, there is no hope for them..
      The media glorify thug culture, rap music, and black people suffer.
      Single mothers, men not involved, culture of not cooperating with police, violence, glorifying drug use, etc. all lead to failure.
      Until there is self responsibility, valuing an education, getting a good job, taking care of your kids, all the things that the larger American culture values, there will be no improvement in the lot of the average African-American.
      Maybe they should start listening to country music!

      1. End drug prohibition and welfare and the ghettos would disappear.

  22. Retarding the development of the brightest among us is not the way to create a well functioning society.

  23. Polish/Irish here, and I was such a gigantic geek in high school that other white boys in the Gifted-and-Talented classes called me a nerd and a faggot. Needless to say, it was worse in gym class, which didn’t have a segregated group for kids with above-average IQs.

    I survived and got over it, but I can understand why African-American parents of nerdy, curve-breaking, academically enthusiastic kids would want to keep their children away from loser trash students regardless of color or ethnicity.

    1. What do you mean? Why would black kids have anything to worry about if they’re studious and intelligent?

      https://www.thedailybeast.com/no-acting-white-has-not-been-debunked

  24. This kind of silliness is why my wife and I pulled our children (preteen) from the government school system. We loved their teachers who were kind, patient (a very necessary trait) and very successful in teaching our children. The problem was that they could not tell us how our kids were doing.

    Our parent-teacher conferences were some variation of “they’re doing great!” My wife and I would then ask what their weaknesses were so that we could work with them, but they could not identify them. Because they did not know. They were not allowed regular testing to find gaps in their learning.

    In addition, these same teachers would spend nearly 80% of their time with a small group of children who needed extra help (for various reasons).

    The advanced classes take the top end students out to give them the same attention the lower performing students get. Without it, you just get stratified mediocrity.

    It is really very sad. We will reap what we are sowing. Mediocre students with very little skill set and no ability to think for themselves.

    Now that I think about it, that’s probably the point.

    *** Sigh ***

  25. Chandra Hampson , white woman, knows what’s best for darkies. I wonder how many of those complaining voted for her or didn’t vote at all.

  26. I went to a majority minority school.
    Pros
    Class ranking was high even being a marginal student.
    Cons
    Everything else.

  27. “Seattle’s School System Has Begun Dismantling Its Gifted Programs”

    Correct headline: “Seattle’s School System Has Begun Dismantling Its Gifted Programs FIRST”

  28. Every child should be taught as a “gifted” child. Gifted programs as such are horrible, in that they create an elitist personality in the “gifted” students. I’ve known children who were in these horrible programs who couldn’t spell words from a fourth grade list, when they were entering the eighth grade!!! If I suggested that they work on a list of words that I had pulled from a fourth grade speller, they refused. Their reason? It was memorization work that was confining. Another reason? Computers have spell-check! Ugh!

  29. All schooling should be private, the end.

  30. The Communist Manifesto is simply a Lie to trick The New World into ceding Their Rights to The State because Old World Elites live in Fear that their position of prominence will be taken away and unable to live lavish lifestyles at the expense of others.

    The Individual is Amazing;

    If Anyone have ever Read The Communist Manifesto, You would know that You Are supposed to Pool Your Resources into The State to get Amazing Things done because you, yourself, are Lousy and Worthless. If you were to Try, you’d never get that far because you’re not that great. Don’t even waste you time, Pool your resources into The State to get Wonderful Things done such as Not being able to feed everyone and stealing from Those who have to pass around to those who do not.

    The Individual is Amazing.

    The Left would like to Make The 1% Pay their fair share.

    Wah, Life is not Fair; Is it Really The State’s Job to Balance out Life? and if That is The State’s Job, The What Isn’t The State’s Job? Did God do such a Poor Job that the State has to make up for The Inadequacies of Life? Is The State your Laughable Notion of what A God should be?

    A God whom Feeds everyone, and Protects Everyone.

    Are you sure you’re not a Monster?

    What Makes you think you are a person?

    What Makes you think you are a Free Individual?

    Because of All The Things you can do?

    Because you’re so Liberated?

    The People are Slaves, Wrapped in Chains meant for The State, Dancing To Jewish Noise, breaking rocks in a Box for Their Minds.

  31. So stop the “special” classes for all the retards, too. Save a shitload of money on top of the other benefits.

  32. Oh wait I know —- How about just closing down the government indoctrination camp that’s been using jail threats to FORCE your kids to be there and only there and exactly what indoctrination they must learn collectively?

    Admit to ourselves that politicians aren’t the parents of every single child ever born and the world; and admit that it was a mistake to lobby-support giving them a FULL monopoly on ?education?

    An ?education? that will never teach them how to manage money, change a flat tire, fix their car or house, or well frankly know how to do ANYTHING they will need to do to be a responsible adult.

    1. We actually learned how to change a flat tire in my public school drivers’ ed class.

      Probably the most useful thing I learned at school.

  33. Making more pay each month from $15,000 to $18,000 by simply making a simple showing on the web from home. I have gotten $17594 a month ago from this online activity by simply doing this in my low maintenance for most extreme 2 to 3 hrs day by day on the web. Get your hands on this activity at the present time and begin winning on the web by simply follow subtleties on this site……. Click Here  

  34. I did some substitute teaching at a science magnet school recently. The population of the school was very ethnically diverse, but when you looked at the breakdown the non-white children were Asian, middle Eastern, and north African. (In one class a new student enrolled, a young north African girl – black, not Arabic – and she and a number of other girls of various hues were excited to learn that they all spoke Arabic.) Very few African American or hispanic students made it into this school, even though only a couple of miles away the same county has schools that are majority hispanic, possibly even hispanic immigrant. My job was to control the behavior of special education students, one in particular, who were mainstreamed into this school for some reason, but who basically had their own separate math and English classes, taught at a level far below grade level, while the kids in their “homeroom class” they started and often ended the day in (and with whom they had PE, lunch, recess, art, music, and unfortunately science) all functioned about two grade levels above the grade they were in. Though the special needs students included suburban white kids and white Russian or Eastern European immigrants, they were often African American – they may have even been half of the African Americans in the school. I wondered if they were mainstreamed into the school to make its diversity statistics look better. I also wondered if they were being harmed by never being able to perform the work assigned in science labs (unlike the non-special needs African American students, who I think were successful in their work).

  35. Whatever did people do before the advent of gifted classes? What about all of the countries that don’t have gifted programs? Schools are designed to educate (indoctrinate) the masses. If you are an average student, you’ll be fine. Schools are not designed to handle kids with learning disabilities, special needs, or those with extraordinary academic ability. Quite frankly, that’s to be expected because schools are designed to educate the average student.

    As someone who was in a gifted program, I was still very bored. And what to do about all of those incredibly smart kids who don’t get identified as “gifted” for a number of reasons. What about the kids that might be exceptionally gifted in one area and average at best, in another area. If your child is in second grade but has abilities that exceed the 2nd-grade curriculum, why is the child being kept in 2nd grade? I’d argue that gifted programs only exist because children are not being placed in the grade level that matches their ability. Instead, we have an arbitrary system that determines a child’s grade level based on age, not ability. There’s a lot that needs to be changed with education in the US in general – all the whining about one school district considering getting rid of its gifted program is another example of missing the forest for the trees. Or not caring about the larger issue as long as you get what you want.

  36. Thank you for sharing this great article with us. This blog is worth reading. Keep sharing this kind of post in the future. I’m also an author. So if you have time, I invite you to have a look at my https://appvalley.one/ site. Have a nice day!

  37. Every sector of economic would have a bad time. Education especially! It is a good time for self-education. Read this examples of college essays and do not forget to practice!

Please to post comments