In this final article of a three-part series, Jasmine M. Pulido explores the future of programs for students designated highly capable in Seattle Public Schools.
The Future of Highly Capable Cohort: From HCC to HCS
Highly capable services are deemed part of basic education by state law, but the cohort is not.Starting in the 2022–2023 school year, the district’s Advanced Learning Department will begin a six-year plan to phase out the cohortmodel while gradually phasing in a new model. The recently amended changes to School Board Policy 2190, “Highly Capable Services and Advanced Learning Programs,” convert this accelerated curriculum cohort model (HCC) into an inclusive and accessible service model (Highly Capable Services or HCS) to meet the needs of students at their neighborhood school. In other words, SPS will no longer focus on searching for and separating “gifted students” from the general student population and will, instead, focus on having flexible services available to all students. HCS will still include an accelerated curriculum but can also include services like enriched learning opportunities, classroom pullouts for advanced content on a specific subject, and cluster groups depending on what best meets the individual student’s needs. In short, Highly Capable Cohort as a self-contained setting for advanced students will be completely dismantled and phased out.
When Drew Campbell was in middle school in the Renton Highlands, he’d often watch recess alone from inside the classroom while all his peers played outside. After they lined up and came back into the building, he was allowed out into the schoolyard for his turn, wondering, “Would I ever be able to interact with the regular kids?” In the large, mostly empty classroom where he spent the rest of the day with two other students — each with their own Individual Education Plan (IEP) — posters mostly covered the windows to shield the three of them from being made fun of. When learning, they were separated by cubicle walls — not unlike those recently used to deter COVID-19 transmission — only they weren’t transparent. The isolation that Campbell felt, and the bullying he faced daily from peers after being excluded from their midst by adults after an ADHD diagnosis, is something he will never forget.
Yet born from this traumatic three years of his life was a desire to hone in on what students with a lot of energy — especially Black boys — need to be able to learn with enthusiasm and purpose. Though the public education system may have tried to fail Campbell, he learned from his experience a critique containing answers to questions now being asked publicly: How can we end the school-to-prison pipeline? How can we stop failing to engage Black boys? How can we make public education more inclusive?
We are writing with enthusiastic support for the renewal of the Best Starts for Kids (BSK) levy and encouraging you to vote to approve the levy this August. As longtime advocates for children, youth, and families, we are so thankful to see the growing momentum and commitment to be a community that truly values young people and works to ensure that every child is happy, healthy, safe, and thriving!
Babies who were born the year BSK originally passed are just now entering school. The services they received as babies — like home visits, Play-and-Learn groups, information and support for parents and caregivers, and more — helped to prepare them and their families to enter school ready to learn and thrive.
Like many organizations, Tilth Alliance had to move to virtual classes and workshops when the pandemic hit last year. Now that vaccination rates are high and climbing, the local food and urban farming nonprofit is offering several in-person classes — but that doesn’t mean the online classes are going away. And these classes could attract more people than in previous years.
“We usually see a little dip in summer classes compared to spring, but it could be different this year, because so many people are interested and have been interested in growing [their] own food and learning more about how to cook, how to get closer to what they eat and to their food source,” Director of Outreach Sheryl Wiser said. “So we don’t really see this slacking off anytime soon.”
A round-up of news and announcements we don’t want to get lost in the fast-churning news cycle!
Seattle Youth Commission Now Accepting Applications
Application Deadline: June 28 at 5 p.m.
From the source: “The City of Seattle is now accepting applications for the Seattle Youth Commission (SYC), a 15-member commission of ages 13–19 that addresses issues of importance to youth. Appointed by the mayor and Seattle City Council, youth serving on this commission work with elected officials, City staff, community leaders, and young people citywide to make positive changes through policy, organizing, and events.
The Morning Update Show — hosted by Trae Holiday and The Big O (Omari Salisbury) — is the only weekday news and information livestream that delivers culturally relevant content to the Pacific Northwest’s urban audience. Omari and Trae analyze the day’s local and national headlines as well as melanin magic in our community. Watch live every weekday at 11 a.m. on any of the following channels, hosted by Converge Media: YouTube, Twitch, Facebook, Periscope, and whereweconverge.com.
We also post the Morning Update Show here on theEmerald each day after it airs, so you can catch up any time of day while you peruse our latest posts.
Morning Update Show — Wednesday, May 26
LIVE — Port Commissioner Calkins | Income, Generational Wealth, Education — The Big 3 | Economics in the Black Community | Mayor to Update Vaccination Policies | Amtrak Is Back on Track | Morning Update Show at Night!
Growing up in Washington, I would often hear the “aspirational” success stories of white entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, paired with the line: “You can do anything with hard work!” Like many other young People of Color, I bought into this dream. But as I grew older, the dream was quickly washed away by the reality that our state only sets folks like Gates and Bezos up for success.
Many Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color experiencing poverty, especially during the pandemic, know firsthand that housing, education, and basic needs are extremely difficult to maintain without the generational wealth some Washingtonians were born with. Still, every day, we hear from the people around us that we just need to work harder, be smarter with our money, or learn how to invest. Usually, the people telling us this are white and painfully unaware of the way our economy has been quietly benefiting them and harming us.
Stephanie Gallardo, an educator, activist, and labor organizer, announced today she will challenge incumbent Adam Smith, a Democrat from Bellevue who has held the 9th Congressional District seat since 1997.
On March 19, Michelle Sarju announced her candidacy for the Seattle Public Schools (SPS) District 5 School Board Director seat. SPS District 5 includes most of the downtown area from the Sound to Lake Washington and, specifically, the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill, the Chinatown/International District, First Hill, Leschi, Madison, and the Central District. Outgoing District 5 Board Director Zachary DeWolf has been one of those who have endorsed Sarju as her campaign launched.
In an interview with the Emerald, Sarju reflected on her professional life and how she feels it has prepared her to step into this role at this particular, historic moment. She also spoke about why she thinks it’s important the board includes a Black resident from the Central District who has had three children in SPS.
In an online news conference Friday morning, Governor Jay Inslee announced — almost exactly one year to the day after he issued an order closing schools statewide to confront the rise of COVID-19 — that he will sign an emergency proclamation requiring all K-12 students in the state be provided with some in-class learning by the end of April. The order requires that by April 5, all students in grades K-6 must be provided a hybrid model of instruction with at least some in-class learning, and by April 19, all students in grades K-12 must be provided some in-class instruction.