Fri. Apr 19th, 2024
alert-–-seattle-closes-gifted-and-talented-schools-because-they-had-too-many-white-and-asian-students,-with-consultant-branding-black-parents-who-complained-about-move-‘tokenized’Alert – Seattle closes gifted and talented schools because they had too many white and Asian students, with consultant branding black parents who complained about move ‘tokenized’

Seattle has shuttered its gifted and talented programs because the school board determined they had too many white and Asian students.

The district began phasing out its Highly Capable Cohort schools and classrooms for advanced students in the 2021-22 school year because they found it had too many racial inequities. School bosses said black and Hispanic students were underrepresented at the schools.

According to Seattle Public School data, of the highly capable students in the 2022-23 school year, 52 percent were white, 16 percent were Asian and 3.4 percent were black.

During a January 22, 2020, school board meeting, parents of black students in the Highly Capable Cohort asked the board to consider finding ways to incorporate students of color into the gifted program rather than shut it down.

Then school board vice president Chandra Hampson slammed those parents saying, ‘this is a pretty masterful job at tokenizing a really small community of color within the existing cohort.’

When the school board decided to end the program, then vice president Chandra Hampson slammed parents of minority students who asked the board to keep the program as 'tokenized'

When the school board decided to end the program, then vice president Chandra Hampson slammed parents of minority students who asked the board to keep the program as ‘tokenized’

Garfield High School is one of Seattle's public schools will be forced to shutter their gifted and talented program

Garfield High School is one of Seattle’s public schools will be forced to shutter their gifted and talented program

‘My request is that you please consider the disservice you would be doing to the minorities that are already in the HCC program,’ one father said at the meeting, reported local news paper The Stranger.

‘The program does more for black children, particularly black boys, than it does for their peers.’ 

Three elementary schools, five middle schools and three high schools are currently highly capable cohort schools – all of which will be phased out by the 2027-28 school year.

The gifted and talented program has been replaced with the Highly Capable Neighborhood School Model which requires teachers to come up with individualized learning programs for all of their students. 

According to Seattle Public Schools, the new model will be ‘be more inclusive, equitable and culturally sensitive.’

Parents told The Seattle Times they think the the new model could lead to their children getting overlooked and slow their academic progress. 

Erika Ruberry, a parent of a second grader at Decatur Elementary said, ‘It seems to me that kids on maybe both extremes are going to be underserved.’

Karen Stukovsky, who has three students in the gifted program said, ‘You can only do so much differentiation.’

‘You have some kids who can barely read and some kids who are reading Harry Potter in first grade or kindergarten. How are you going to not only get those kids up to grade level and also challenge those kids who are already way above grade level?’

Some teachers said they felt they don’t have the time and resources to make learning plans for every student in a classroom of 20 to 30 students.

News station KOMO reported that anonymous teachers said the district is not providing them with extra resources.

‘No extra time, no aid in the classroom, no curriculum help, and no extra compensation to come up with these additional lesson plans for every level of learning in a single classroom,’ said the report. 

The school district said in a March 5 update they are currently facing a $104 million budget deficit.

The district began phasing out its Highly Capable Cohort schools and classrooms in the 2021-22 school year because they found it had too many racial inequities (pictured file photo)

The district began phasing out its Highly Capable Cohort schools and classrooms in the 2021-22 school year because they found it had too many racial inequities (pictured file photo)

According to Seattle Public School data, of the highly capable students in the 2022-23 school year, 52 percent were white, 16 percent were Asian and 3.4 percent were black (pictured file photo)

According to Seattle Public School data, of the highly capable students in the 2022-23 school year, 52 percent were white, 16 percent were Asian and 3.4 percent were black (pictured file photo)

‘This happened because Washington state is facing an educational funding gap, and there are fewer students enrolled at Seattle Public Schools,’ said the district. 

However, supporters of the new program think it will bring together students of different backgrounds and create a more diverse learning environment.

View Ridge Elementary School Principal Rina Geoghagan said, ‘They bring their home experience and their culture, and that is really unique. It makes for a really rich learning environment.’ 

‘Is it going to be perfect? No. But any time there is a change, it’s not perfect.’ 

Darrell Thomas, father of a fourth grade student in west Seattle said, ‘I love that, if that meant we could stay here and keep her with her friend group and the teachers that we’ve, you know, know her well and love her and work with her throughout the day we will definitely love to do that.’