Let’s think inside and outside the box:
I believe there are four main factors in our education system…students, teachers, parents and curriculum. When two or more of these factors fail, the chances of the student succeeding are slim. The question is… how to keep the first three factors engaged. I believe an incentive system could be at least a start.
Let’s just open up for discussion… If a student passes the OSPI standards test in Math, they would get a FREE Starbucks gift card (if they pass English, they get a FREE... If they pass Science, they would get…). You get the picture. Hey, it’s a start. One small step of many needed. I believe many businesses would offer the gifts as a meaning of goodwill, a paying back to the community it serves.
Attendance at school is another key element to student learning. Currently per OSPI: 45% of our students are not attending regularly. If they don’t attend they are at a clear disadvantage to succeeding academically. I’m open to suggestions and just asked some students today if they had any ideas. Let’s keep that ball rolling.
Putting incentive laden items into the teacher’s contract (requiring buy in by the union) would be a harder sell… but again, let’s start the discussion. I’m sure your more successful teachers would be in favor, and likewise, your less successful teachers would be concerned… well, maybe they should be.
Also, how do we keep or in many cases get the parents engaged? Parents are busy, I get it. They are trying to provide all the essentials for their family. While parents are spending more and more time providing for their family if they lose time investing personally in their children’s lives and education they’ll have lost the battle without even realizing it. What could be an incentive for parents if they need more to keep them engaged than seeing their child succeed? Well parents what do you say… what do you want? (Sometimes just asking the question solves the problem).
Lastly, concerning curriculum…
Let’s just start with Math since that is the academic subject our students are failing at meeting standards the most (75%). I sat at several board meetings the past year and a half as a new Math curriculum was reviewed and discussed. I was amazed to hear that the premise of the curriculum was to teach five different ways to do the same problem, be it addition, subtraction, multiplication, etc. The premise again was that children learn differently, not all learn the same way and, therefore, we need to teach them several (5) different ways and allow each student to decide which way works best for them.
This was not a new revelation. This school district has been using similar strategies with the previous Math curriculum in place. I had spoken about that at a board meeting several months prior to the new curriculum review just as a contributing reason why our students are failing to meet the Math standards at such a high rate. My daughter at the time was enrolled in Home Choice Academy and as my wife and I were attempting to teach her using the school’s curriculum we were attempting to teach her five different ways to do the same equation and my daughter was getting thoroughly confused. On top of the confusion was the fact that in teaching five different ways to do the same thing you had far less time to hone in on the one or two most successful ways of solving the Math application. That is what the writers of the curriculum should be paid to do, research the proven best method and show and teach the most successful way or ways (two at the most) to learn the application.
I testified at both the first and second reading of the new Math curriculum later that year as well. I again shared the fallacy of teaching 5 ways to do Math and the confusion it’s causing and how less time spent on one or two methods is obviously a factor in contributing to the abysmal % of students meeting Math standards. Of course, to no avail as your school board promptly voted unanimously to approve the new curriculum as well.
This action describes this board very well. They are rubber stampers. I don’t remember a time in the last two years when this board did not vote unanimously with the exception of the firing of the former superintendent (Mike Merlino). Four of the five Evergreen school board members voted on December 16, 2021 to fire him ‘without cause’. The one lone vote cast by Rachel Rogers to fire him ‘for cause’ (and not so strangely enough Rachel resigned two weeks later, apparently upset about the following). The difference between firing him ‘without cause’ vs ‘with cause’ was a $269,000 payout to the former superintendent for the privilege of firing him (one year’s salary for nothing, simply a buyout). After all, it’s only tax payer’s money.
You may choose to forgive this board had it not been the 2nd time in less than 3 short years that this school board has parted ways with a superintendent by buying them out. The previous superintendent (John Steach) was bought out of his contract in February of 2019 for a whopping $301,812 (one year’s salary and unused vacation/sick time). All told this board has paid out over $570,000 buying out two superintendents since 2019. At the same time this school board has had to cut the school district’s budget by millions of dollars yet paying out well over a half million dollars in the past 4 years for nothing but admitting it made a mistake.
We the voters in the Evergreen School District made a mistake by voting and electing this current board into power, however, we have the opportunity to change that in at least two of the board positions this upcoming November election.
I’m Gary Wilson and I’m running for Evergreen School Board Position 3. My opponent is a 24 year incumbent having been here since the turn of the century. Sorry, Ms. Bradford but it’s time for you to go. You are a major part of the problem. Your support in recent years to Evergreens failures and lack of objectively looking at the academic crisis in this district has doomed our students to a high rate of failure. There is plenty of blame to go around but you are at the top. Good or bad leadership in the Evergreen School District starts with the school board and you are the leader of this sinking ship.
Vote Wilson for Evergreen
Also, Chuck Keplar is running for Position 2 against incumbent Rob Perkins. Chuck has been attending the school board meetings since the recent announcement of the $19,140,000 budget cut for the 2023-24 school year. Chuck did some public records requests finding out more budget information and speaking about those cuts at board meetings. Those proposed cuts are costing some teachers their jobs but oddly few admin personnel are losing theirs as admin people are taking the jobs held by some teachers and other closer to the student positions. That’s acting in someone’s best interests other than that of our students.