Submitted by John Arbeeny.
“The truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth”
When you’re sworn into court you say these words in an oath avowing to be completely honest in your answers. The same should be expected of our public institutions to include school districts. They owe the public “the truth, the WHOLE truth and nothing but the truth.”
Yet this is not happening in press releases from Clover Park School District. What we are getting are half truths which are tantamount to propaganda to lull the public into complacency, thinking that everything is wonderful and great in the District when it is most decidedly not.
“Half-truth: a statement that conveys only part of the truth, especially one used deliberately in order to deceive someone.”
You’ll see these glowing articles weekly in the Suburban Times about one outstanding student or teacher, a scholarship granted or even a specific school’s special achievement. While well deserved, such commendations are anecdotal and don’t reveal the District’s true condition academically.
For instance, in a recent press release to the Suburban Times (30 April 2022; “Harrison Prep and Lakes Ranked Among Region’s Best Schools” and posted on the District’s website, Harrison Prep and Lakes High Schools were commended for their academic standing.
Certainly good news should be congratulated. However I have some issues with the numbers as compared to the OSPI Report Card and School Digger sites that show different data. The Board and Administration should not be so quick to pat themselves on the back until they, and we as the public, look at the CPSD’s performance across the board.
For instance Harrison is NOT #8 in the State for high schools. Actually it is #76 out of 455 state high schools: commendable but at the 83.3 percentile. Similarly Lakes is #210 out of 455 for a 55.8 percentile: middle of the pack. Missing is Clover Park High School which comes in at #428 out of 455 for a 5.9 percentile! This is nothing to brag about: the very bottom of all state high schools. Indeed the District itself is at 29 percentile: below the bottom 1/3rd of all school districts! Have you ever seen a CPSD article about this abject failure? No and you won’t. That leaves it up to independent sources to tell the public what the Clover Park School District chooses to ignore.
This is but the tip of the iceberg of academic incompetence. Take a look at Lochburn Middle School: #506 out of 529 state middle schools for 4.3 percentile. Almost unbelievably check out Tyee Park Elementary School at 1091 out of 1107 state elementary schools for 1.4 percentile……98.6 percent of state elementary schools are ranked superior to Tyee Elementary! Other schools have been mired for years in academic mediocrity while other fell precipitously in just 4 years.
That is a disgrace. If this occurred in the private sector the stockholders would have fired the Board and CEO for misfeasance and malfeasance. In the public sector we as the “stakeholders” should consider the same options. The enormous disparities in school performance have to be attributed to a dysfunctional Board, a largely incompetent administration save for those few school administrations who strove for academic success despite COVID and Board and administrative bungling. If those few school administrations managed to be successful then anyone should be able to do it. But that’s not going to happen until Board and administration start acknowledging and defining the problems.
There are many other schools in the District that are in serious trouble academically: high school, middle schools and elementary schools. Unless these schools improve you will find that academic failure merely steps up a grade every year until elementary students today become the middle and high schoolers over the next decade. Think of it as “negative compounding”. Failing Tyee Park students become failing Lockburn students who become failing Clover Park students where upon unbelievably 87% of them graduate.
This is the singular critical problem that Board, Superintendent and administration must take immediate action to address. Nothing else matters! What are you going to do to rescue these schools and their students, our children, from academic oblivion? There are only four months before the next term starts to address the District’s academic failure. I’d recommend the Board meet every week instead of their twice monthly meetings and have but one agenda item for each of these meetings: academic competence. To do anything less is to condemn our students to academic mediocrity as they regress from failing school to failing school and leave the District upon “graduation” unprepared for adult life.
Below is the “truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth regarding the District’s academic performance for the District as a whole and individual high schools, middle schools and elementary schools.
CPSD and school rankings (in order) compared to all Washington State school districts and schools: 2018 and 2021 percentiles, improved or declined
|Clover Park School District||33.2%||29.3%||Declined|
If CPSD is going to crow about its accomplishments it must honestly and truthfully address its failures. The first step in problem solving is to admit you have a problem. Until the Board, Superintendent and administration recognize they have a problem it will never get fixed. Unfortunately the students in failing elementary schools will wend their way through failing middle and high schools and leave graduation with a diploma that means nothing and a future in doubt as young adults.
We owe them more than that. Our school district owes them more than that.