Four Major Issues
Academic Crisis- Only 26.9% of Evergreen students are meeting Math standards (almost 3 out of 4 are failing standards). English 37.6% and Science 35.7% are not far behind. The average for Evergreen students on these 3 academics is 33% (only 1 in 3) meeting standards. Next door Camas students are averaging 70% in the 3 academics (Math, English and Science). The obvious question is: Why? When elected, I will do the hard analysis and hold people accountable.
First, what is Camas doing right that we are doing wrong? What curriculums do they have in place? Which ones are different than Evergreen’s and is that a factor in why their students are performing better on the standardized tests?
Second, let’s talk to the Camas staff (teachers, principals, etc.) to find their best practices in teaching and see what we can glean from them.
Next… and this is big: Starting with Math (since this is our worst statistical academic)… What is the ratio of students meeting standards for each Math teacher at Evergreen for the last 2-3 years? If we are averaging 26.9% meeting Math standards, some have to be averaging 50% or more. Not that that is great, but what are they doing better than the others. Likewise, if we are averaging 26.9% meeting standards, some teachers are probably averaging 10% or less of their students meeting Math standards, what do they need to improve? (Do they need extra training, classroom help or more classroom discipline).
Budget Cuts- The loss of 3,546 students over the past 4 years has cost an estimated loss of state funding of $37,200,000. This is resulting in a $19,140,000 budget cut for the 2023-24 school year. When making cuts you have to trim the fat first and that would be administration. Sorry Superintendent Boyd but you are going to have to learn to do as much with far less staff or cut some of the services your administrative staff are performing. This is the new reality. Evergreen needs to cut its administrative headcount close to in half. We can’t cut teachers and closer to the student positions and expect our academic learning to improve. Also, Evergreen needs to consider closing at least one or two of their 39 schools to help close the budget shortfall.
Teacher Morale- The recent handling (or more appropriately ‘mishandling’) of contract negotiations and resulting teacher’s strike has left every teacher in our school district feeling misrepresented by the district and ‘thrown under the proverbial Bus’. Morale has never been lower. The district’s website led everyone to believe that this was all about the money and teacher’s salaries, when in reality it was more about teacher support and teacher/student safety.
Our teachers need more support in the classroom. Since the implementation of ‘Neighborhood Schools’ which states ‘Services for all students eligible for special education shall be provided access to the general education classroom with supports aligned with the IEP’ (see Understanding the Continuum of Special Education updated 3/31/21).
This is a very aggressive strategy with a strong rate of failure and safety concerns if not adequately planned for. Needless to say our Evergreen School District did not plan to fail: they failed to plan for all the extra supports needed for the Special Ed students now in the general population classrooms. It seems almost every day there are corroborated accounts of teachers being hurt and/or classrooms being trashed while the other students are ushered out to the library. From September 12, 2023 Below
The lack of teacher supports (specifically para educators) is due to almost 200 open positions that are not filled due to low pay rates for para’s compared to other districts and dangerous working conditions due to Evergreen’s unwillingness to adjust from the disastrous effects of including all Special Ed students in with the general population.
Too many high priced admin salaries and too many admin positions coupled with the decline in student enrollment due to poor academic scores are resulting in budget cuts that are causing open para educator positions to not be filled because they are paid below average compared to other para educators in other districts. State requirements for IEP’s are not being met and classroom instruction for all is suffering. We can and will do better with Chuck Keplar for Position 2 and Gary Wilson for Position 3 on the Evergreen School Board.
Student Attendance- 44.9% of Evergreen students are failing to attend regularly (almost half). Proficiency in academics will not get to where they need to be at 70% meeting standards (as the Camas School District maintains) without a far greater attendance record. If students are not in class they can’t learn.