Friday, November 9, 2007

Letter: How good are Federal Way’s Schools?

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How good are Federal Way’s Schools?

If you ask the Public Relations Department of the School District you will get an answer that says that "we beat state averages" or some other superlatives. A recent article in the local paper by a local cheerleader for the community suggested that the schools were "better than Puyallup."

Are these good answers? I don’t think so!

The taxpayers and the students of this community deserve better. The future of this community depends upon educating our children with positive moral values, and a knowledge base that will allow them find employment at living wages. A look at the crimes described in the local news might suggest to some that many of the students of this district aren’t exhibiting the positive virtues just described.

In fact of the four high schools that we have in the district only one may have a positive reputation among college admissions officials. We have seen evidence of high gpa students being rejected by competitive schools. In fact most competitive colleges don’t even bother to stop to talk to students.

The District will lament over poor funding, minorities, and non English speaking students as reasons why they are only "better than Puyallup." I contend that these are not good excuses for this poor achievement levels.

What is a significant part of the problem? Simply a lack of focus on achievement by either the schools, or the parents and other adults, who influence the lives of the students that are lagging in achievement.

The district claims lack of funding and yet it continues to fund peripheral, non required, activities at the expense of being targeted and focused on meeting the shortcomings of those that come to school with a less than desirable learning environments.

Instead of funding the "exercise of the physically fit" the district could adopt a longer school day for those who are behind, as other districts have done with disadvantaged students and an active engagement process with those adults that are not assisting in the development of their children.

As long as our schools remain juvenile social halls with attached playgrounds where students seem to be focused on topics not related to achievement our school system’s reputation will be something that we can’t be too proud of. Because of this many students will be receiving rejection notices from competitive colleges that have adequate endowment funds to assist them in their education.

The cost of going to college is no longer an obstacle for those who cannot afford it. Well endowed colleges, the state institutions of this state, and other sources are quite plentiful for those students that can meet the academic standards that these institutions require. Unfortunately most students, and their parents, are not made fully aware of these wonderful opportunities.

The emerging countries of this world have recognized the importance of knowledge and yet we continue to be more concerned about other priorities in the raising of our community's children.

This reputation influences what businesses are prepared locate in, or near, Federal Way and as such we have not seen much positive activity in the community.

What can be done to change this? It only takes adult concern, and that seems lacking in this community. It is only our future and we need a vision of educational excellence to change the future of Federal Way.

To date I have not found that the traditional "leaders of the community" have any stomach for this. Many send their kids to private schools and many others would be reluctant to be critical of the "system."

Elsewhere, when the SAT scores come out, parents come out of the woodwork if they are not competitive with the best schools, as these are determinants in college admissions, and demand change. Not here, yet.

Is anyone concerned?

-- Charles Hoff


FedWayan said...

It certainly can't help that our schools teach students that commonly accepted science like global warming or ozone depletion is "crap", and our school board made national headlines by banning an internationally acclaimed science-related documentary on political grounds. And We The People just reelected the ringleader of that act. Perhaps FW kids would have better luck applying to BYU or Bob Jones.

PS: So which high school is the one with a good rep?


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