Submitted by John Arbeeny.
As mentioned in my previous Suburban Times article “To debate or not to debate: That’s the question,” I reviewed the comments from candidates for the Clover Park School Board at the League of Women Voters forum on September 23. 2021. Current board chairman Schafer dropped another bomb (in addition to disavowing debate) during this forum, twice, regarding the value of attendance, test scores and grade completion in defining student success. Here are the direct quotes from the League of Women Voters School Board Candidates Forum held on September 23, 2021.
“The reality is that test scores are indicators of how well the student is navigating our educational institution.”
“Even attendance, test scores, grade completion, these are indicators but they do not define whether a student is doing well.”
Let’s deal with the first quote first. “…… navigate our educational institution”? It feels like navigating the high school “labyrinth”: on one side and the other. It has less to do with education than going to graduation day and getting a “participation trophy” in the form of a diploma which to many makes no sense. I thought the goal was to get an education rather than just going through the steps to get one. It might just be a bad word choice on Schafer’s part, but it’s backed up by the fact that Schafer is thrilled that the district has gone from a 60% graduation rate to 88%. + during his 16-year term on the board of directors. Yet during his tenure the district has grown from around 46% to 35% academically and once as low as 32%! Too bad the graduation rate of over 88% does not take into account 50% school-level proficiency in English; 38.4% for mathematics; 39.8% for science with only 85.4% of students regularly attending classes. Sadly, the Clover Park School District has become something of a diploma factory instead of an educational institution.
The second quote is just as worrying because it goes to the heart of the student, and I could add Advice, definitions and measures of success. Attendance, test scores, and grade completion are objective measures of student achievement, not just subjective indicators. The flip side is that they are also objective measures of the success of the council and the district as representatives of the citizens and educational institution charged with educating our children. Attendance, test scores, and grade completion are the best determinants of potential student success. When students do not attend school, demonstrate knowledge on tests, and progress in their grades, these are also measures of board and district failure. Perhaps this is why Schafer downplays the importance of attendance, test scores, and grade completion: The board apparently doesn’t like looking in the mirror at students’ academic performance!
It is telling that Schafer never mentions what defines success, either as more valid metrics in school or in adulthood after high school. Evaluating the accountability of the board, superintendent, administration and staff without objective standards and measures of success is almost impossible. No one can be held responsible for a standard that does not exist or that cannot be measured. This is a significant problem with the District’s “equity policy”. What are his definitions of success and how are they objectively measured? Unfortunately, the District’s “equity policy” deals with poorly defined subjective theoretical concepts that are more psychological than academic. So what does Schafer offer? Do all students have to take a psychological exam as an “indicator” that they have been properly brainwashed into “diversity, inclusion and equity” before graduation? How would that work and how would it approach attendance, test scores, grade completion as part of academic performance? It wouldn’t!
Downplaying the importance of attendance, test scores, and grade completion is a trick to circumvent the very real failure of the council and district to provide students with a solid academic education. Ultimately, it’s about getting around responsibility and accountability as an educational institution by establishing what amounts to a political indoctrination camp. Do you want to change this? Then you need new people at the Clover Park School District Board. The dismissal of the incumbents to the Council only perpetuates the current academic malaise of the District. David Anderson and Jeff Brown both understand the importance of attendance, test scores, and grade completion as measures of academic achievement. They will create a district that defines student and district academic success and is responsible for educating students to ensure that a degree upon graduation means something more than just a piece of paper.