Opinion: Vancouver school superintendent seeks to end learning excellence program

Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center takes a look at the discussion to end the Vancouver School District’s Highly Gifted program permanently.
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Liv Finne of the Washington Policy Center takes a look at the discussion to end the Vancouver School District’s Highly Gifted program permanently

Liv Finne
Washington Policy Center

Vancouver Public Schools Superintendent Jeff Snell (annual salary $281,000) says he wants to expel students from the district’s popular self-contained Highly Gifted classes and end the program permanently.

Liv Finne
Liv Finne

Vancouver school officials indicated their view is that too many students of the “wrong” color enroll in the Highly Gifted classes, and that a high standard of achievement should be replaced with a weaker “diversity, equity and inclusion” approach related to Critical Race Theory (CRT).

CRT in public schools is based on SB 5044, the bill signed by Governor Inslee last year that requires teachers to tell students that they do not have individual intrinsic worth as human persons but must be seen as members of a racial or ethnic group.  CRT holds that students identified as white, Jewish or Asian are oppressors, and that students of other groups are oppressed.  The program raises concerns about school violations of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1998 Washington Civil Rights Act.

Dr. Jeff Snell, Vancouver Public Schools superintendent
Dr. Jeff Snell, Vancouver Public Schools superintendent

The proposal in Vancouver follows the 2020 decision by Seattle Superintendent Denise Juneau (annual salary $309,000) to expel all students from the district’s Highly Capable Cohort, a popular advanced learning program in place since 1978.  Since then about 1,300 families have left the public system, and student learning in math and English has reached new lows, according to state scores reported in November.  Seattle lost about $28 million in state funding due to lower enrollment.

Similarly, Vancouver schools have lost some $14 million due to a fall-off in enrollment of about one thousand students.  School board chair Kyle Sproul and other members of the board are now considering whether to end the self-contained Highly Gifted program. 

It’s clear that canceling education programs that are popular with parents and work for kids is harmful and destructive.  Public schools need more ways to attract families, not create more ways to drive them away.  Students of all ethnicities want to strive for excellence.  Superintendent Snell, Board Chair Sproul and the other elected board members shouldn’t end a good learning program because they think too many of the “wrong” students signed up.

Liv Finne is the director of the Center for Education at the Washington Policy Center.

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Scott Hooper
Scott Hooper
5 months ago

Wow, this may be the first article I’ve read on CCToday with which I completely agree.

It seems that the word ‘equity’ is coming to mean ‘let no person do or fair better than the least,’ which benefits literally nobody.

At the rate we’re going, with the right trying to destroy our institutions, elections and Democratic system, and the alt-left trying to destroy our meritocracy, soon there will be little ground where typical Americans like myself can just be an American without someone telling me I’m going it wrong and trying to force me to do it differently.

I say leave the highly capable programs in place, along with the STEM schools and all the rest.

cb10461@gmail.com
cb10461@gmail.com
5 months ago

There ya go. Let’s replace education for your racist Critical Race Theory program.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago

Remember – the schools/school boards have told us that CRT is not being taught in schools. They know what’s best for “the children”.

I’ll bet that they allow for teachers to engage in “grooming”, but will tell us that it doesn’t happen at all.

Last edited 5 months ago by Mike
Susan
Susan
5 months ago

Quite interesting… and disturbing! IF TRUE, then Snell needs to be taken to the woodshed and whipped. But I suspect there are two sides, maybe three, to this story and I’d love to see what VSD and/or Snell has to say in defense of their decision.

How about it VSD? Got the cajones to tell us?

Miss lucky
Miss lucky
5 months ago

SO WRONG!! WE NEED TO GO INTO EDUCATING WHAT IT TAKES FOR A GOOD JOB!! PUTTING HONEST TO GOODNESS SMART KIDS,(THAT DONT NEED TO GRADUATE COLLEGE ON A 3RD GRADE LEVEL) ITS NOT WORTH THE VFC TAXES TO PAY FOR THIS BULL!! KERP THEM IN 3RD.GRA DE IF IT’S TOO HARD!! SEEMS IT’S TOO HARD FOR THE SUPERINTENDANTS TO FIGURE OUT!! TIME FOR SOME BRAINS INSIDE OUR SYSTEM!!

Miss lucky
Miss lucky
5 months ago

Doesn’t make Sence! He makes over a quarter million a year,with raises for his future, not counting 100s of thousands in tax deductible non profits,while falling backwards with education,to reach people who have no Idea what they are missing!! Why the hurry?? Dr.guess you haven’t heard the need for the brilliant to lead us out of bio warfare and out of a depression,we are in! Where is this leading for our education? Home school for all🇺🇲🇺🇲🇺🇲

Miss lucky
Miss lucky
5 months ago

I think this superintendent is making a mistake taking special classes out of the freedom of education act!! I think that he would be building an anxiety people,as we are turning into a depression. We need higher learning within our taxes played school system🇺🇲

Gaby
Gaby
5 months ago

Last edited 5 months ago by Gaby
christodamas
christodamas
5 months ago

Equity punches downward.

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