Sunday, December 2, 2007

Letter: A Departing School Board Member's Apology to the Federal Way Community

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A Departing School Board Member's Apology to the Federal Way Community

I would like to apologize to the children and taxpayers of this district. During my 7 year tenure on this school board we have spent over $1 billion dollars on what some may have thought was education. I would contend that most of our children are still not getting an education that will prepare them for their next steps beyond the Federal Way school system.

What have we got for this expenditure?

We have built a “comprehensive high school” that isn’t comprehensive and has earned a reputation that doesn’t allow some its students to enter the colleges of their choice. Unfortunately this school has incorporated many of the less than desirable traits of other high schools instead of being a showplace of academic achievement that it was intended to be. As for its “comprehensiveness” there isn’t any recognized course there to prepare a student for something other than college and the schools SAT scores are causing college admissions officials to wonder.

We have built another middle school that hasn’t broken the mold that middle schools have. Many middle school students do not survive high school as a result of their middle school experience.

We have started an Advanced Placement program to raise the level of rigor in 3 of our high schools. Unfortunately less than 14% of those that enter this program earn any credit for these courses.

We continue to fund exercise for the physically fit while failing to expend these funds on addressing the more than 50% of our kids that are not making it while we continue to spend money on “electives” and entertainment.

Our secondary schools continue to be places where scholarship takes a back seat to “activities” that divert our children’s attention from study and scholarship. We only have to remember a video that this board saw a few years ago about the “fun” that it was to attend a particular school.

In the past year, in spite of an emphasis on closing the gap, our gaps have increased.

This will not change if the next board continues to do as we have always done.

It would be my hope that the next board will take a serious look at educating our children and eliminate the diversions that occur inside our school houses. There are plenty of diversions outside of our schools. In the short time that we have kids we need to be sure that learning is what takes place, not entertainment.

Since the last board meeting one of the board members discussed with me their thoughts that we have “good schools” in Federal Way. I don’t believe for one moment that this is the case. Granted we have pockets of excellence in a few locations in our school district but my greatest disappointment is that in the 7 years, and a billion dollars, that we don’t have large numbers of children that are in the words of our former motto “world class.” Recently revealed statistics on our Advanced Placement exams is a pretty good confirmation of this.

I have said on several occasions “You can get an excellent education in Federal Way schools. I did not say you will get an excellent education in Federal Way schools.” Children left to their own whims, and the minimal guidance that we offer, are not very likely to be in one of the pockets of excellence that exist in our school district.

No more than 30% of our children are taking advantage of these opportunities.

Again, I wish to express my heartfelt regrets to the taxpayers, and many of the students, for the inadequacies of our school system.

While some are getting a very high quality education the majority are not so fortunate.

I will close with what I said earlier this evening. You can get an excellent education in the Federal Way School District. I did not say that you will.

In the time that I remain in this community I will endeavor to find ways for more to get this excellent education.

Charlie Hoff


Skip Stocks said...

Charlie Hoff ROCKS. He has more passion for the future of the kids in this community than many parents do - to our shame.

Unknown to many, he offers consulting to help kids prepare for college; on Sundays you can find him down at the local bookstore doing so. For free.

He has been an outspoken proponent of improved education for YEARS, long before his election to the board; and the resistance he encountered during his tenure only speaks to the unfortunate, ill-informed, self-centered nature of his opponents that's frankly based far more in ego and being unable to admit it when they are wrong than in recognizing common sense when they see it.

To them, I ask: what kind of triumph do you think you have won?

To Charlie, I say: the class and dignity that you consistently display is all the more evident in your taking personal responsibility for the performance of the board during your term of service; and in not giving up and not giving in to your opponents.

Be encouraged, Charlie. You are a good man, and your service has been appreciated. Your positive influence has been felt. Kids are in college because of what you've done; and their lives and the lives of their families will be better.

Your goal is education; and I for one, have learned much from you.

May God bless you.


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