SEATTLE, Wash — There's not many reasons why a 9-year-old would willfully attend a Seattle school board meeting, but Hannah Evans believes she has a good reason -- for the defense of her classroom.
"I like not being embarrassed by asking questions and I like getting help from my peers," the fourth grader said.
Hannah goes to Decatur Middle School and is enrolled in a Highly Capable Cohort, or HCC. It's a group of advanced learners that don't do well in a typical classroom environment.
Hannah's mother Andrea Evans said her daughter was not challenged in years past the way she is in an HCC. That negatively impacted her learning and confidence.
"She would say to me, 'Why did God make me this year if I can't be like the rest of the kids?,'" Evans said.
Hannah doesn't want herself or other students to experience that.
However, some on the Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors believe there is something systematically wrong with the HCC system.
In a Seattle Times Op-Ed, Superintendent Denise Juneau said that out of the nearly 5,000 students in HCC, 67% are white and only 1.6% are African American. Less than 1% are Native American.
"We should be able to choose any student who wants that kind of demand for education to choose into a school that delivers it," said Jill Geary, director of District 3.
During Wednesday's meeting, there was a vote to absorb the current HCC program at Washington Middle School in 2020 into a new model by the Techological Access Fund, a stem-focused learning model that is co-operated by an outside non-profit to ensure students of color get the same opportunities as white children.
Parents and students opposed the change worry the academic standards won't be the same and instead of doing away with HCC, the district should work to make it more equitable -- like taking steps to minimize implicit biases in teachers.
The change was ultimately voted down and the new model will not overtake HCC at the middle school. Seattle Public Schools has until February to figure out whether they want to employ the system in another facet of education.