Rantz: Seattle Schools try to ditch honors program after white kids excel

Jan 27, 2020, 6:09 AM
Denise Juneau, seattle Superintendent...
SPS superintendent Denise Juneau with a student. (Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)

Rather than help lift students of color, administrators with Seattle Public Schools forwarded a plan to hold back academically gifted students because they’re white. It’s the latest backwards social justice cause that harms, rather than helps, this time by killing an honors program.

Under a new proposal, Washington’s Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) classes will be dismantled (as is) at Washington Middle School in Seattle’s Central District. To enroll, students pass a series of tests. The instruction time is spent primarily outside of traditional classes with other gifted students. 

A bad argument

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) Superintendent Denise Juneau essentially argues that too many honors students are white and it creates racial segregation in the school. Seattle Public Schools considers math and the U.S. government racist, so it is not a shock to attack honors classes, too.

HCC has some black or brown students enrolled. But their parent’s concern was ignored by the school board. District 3 Director Chandra Hampson called them “tokens” apparently unworthy of consideration. There will be a new program in place of HCC that Katie Herzog breaks down here

This move hurts all students of all races. It hurts the kids in HCC because they’ll be bored and unchallenged in regular classes. It hurts kids who might become inspired to do more to make it to HCC. 

A worse outcome

This move isn’t about racial segregation; it’s to punish white students. Historically, it’s certainly true that whites were able to excel while communities of color got held back by racists. But this is 2020. This is progressive Seattle.  

As much as Juneau wants to pretend that a legacy of racism somehow tarnishes the HCC program, she holds kids back with the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Seattle Schools document say math is oppressive, US government racist

This move implies Juneau doesn’t think students of color will ever be as smart as white students. So she holds back white kids in the name of equity. It’s a preposterous and offensive position. These kids will be hurt academically in revenge of a racist history. No one actually benefits from this, certainly not students of color. 

A better goal

The goal should be to lift kids up, not drag kids down. All students, regardless of race, are capable of excelling. These aren’t a group of privileged, rich white kids for Juneau to exact historical revenge on. They are our literal future.

Juneau would not dismantle HCC if it was primarily black students. So why would we do it with a high number of white students? Juneau should be working to help all kids, regardless of race, excel academically and, yes, offer special treatment to the ones who are already excelling.

HCC is not even exclusively white, but I guess we’re okay to sacrifice a few students of color if it means dragging down the white ones. Especially when you want to make a social justice point. Then you do what Juneau and the school board is trying to do. It won’t actually help anyone, but you can put #SocialJusticeWarrior in your Twitter profile. Congrats, you’ve declared yourself woke and you only had to hurt a bunch of white kids to get there. 

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter.

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Rantz: Seattle Schools try to ditch honors program after white kids excel