kitchen table math, the sequel: school board member responds to Petrilli

Thursday, July 7, 2011

school board member responds to Petrilli

Mike Rose writing at Flypaper: sorta sounds like you’re making a “schools are academically good enough” argument.

I’m a former school board member from an affluent district. We spent – and continue to spend – lavishly on millon dollar artificial turf football fields, band, pottery kilns, and so on. Students take cultural trips to musical events, museums, and plays. The 23 buildings are fairly new, energy efficient, and freshly painted and carpeted. The district spends approximately $1000 per participant on athletics. Overall the kids and parents seem satisfied.

But we have no gifted and talented program. Our AP participation is below other socio-economically similar districts. ACT scores are in the 98th percentile for Michigan public schools, but are not particularly impressive when compared to non-publics, or the International Academy (a public consortium), whose students have similar socio-economic status. The ACT scores of Michigan schools overall are not particularly impressive (I know… an entirely different debate!).

They do very little scholarship counseling.

Our graduates get accepted into good universities, and do get scholarships. However, anecdotally, parents (and graduates) talk of needing to take remedial classes once they get to college. Some bomb out and drop out, heading back to community college for a year or two. It’s anecdotal because the district makes no effort to obtain or analyze matriculation reports.

And the scholarships earned in the district pale by comparison to non-publics and neighboring “high performing” districts.

By the yardstick you’ve offered… I too should be happy because I’m sure my kids will get into a good college, and be in a culturally rich environment, and have friends. But will it be their “first choice” college? What sort of scholarship opportunities will be available to them, and more significantly, what opportunities will NOT be available to them in this competitive world? Will they need to take that now infamous fifth year of college because they weren’t quite ready?

Did they have to take that entry level science class that could’ve been skipped had the school encouraged them to take an AP exam? Did they miss out on the FREE college credit they might’ve earned had the school encouraged them to take that AP exam?

Oftentimes parents don’t realize that their children have lost or diminished opportunities until it’s too late… the child has the diploma, and they find themselves challenged by obstacles that were created years ago by the school.

And how would parents know they’re not getting all they can get? Our district has a full time PR person to toot the horn. “Your kids are getting a top-notch education… just ask us and we’ll tell you!” As you are well aware, education is a complicated topic, and most parents don’t have the time or resources to investigate or challenge school assertions.

1 comment:

Crimson Wife said...

Sounds like the district in which we live, except for the lavish spending on frills. Our district has made deep cuts in the art & music program. They are, however, spending $65 million on a solar power project. Supposedly it will cut the district's energy bills by 91%, but the breakeven point is something like 30 years at current electric prices.

What a boondoggle...