Submitted by John Arbeeny.
On 9 January 2023 I gave a six-minute presentation to the School Board which followed the outline of my article in The Suburban Times on 21 December 2022 entitled CPSD Inside Schools November 2022 issue. What’s missing? Academics.
I pointed out that out of 8 full pages of glowing endorsements for CPSD only one small paragraph, 3” x 3” dealt with academic “Assessment”. It dismissed CPSD’s academic decline to COVID “…along with many comparable school districts.”. Taking comfort in the company with other failing school districts does not bode well for CPSD’s future. Aiming for the lowest common denominator is likely to achieve just that.
Ignoring academic achievement reporting goes beyond just “Insides Schools”. It is absent on the CPSD website and as a School Board meeting agenda item. My review of Board meeting minutes as far back as 2017 confirms this. This same paragraph directs parents, who might want to find out about their child’s school academic performance, to the OSPI website, an extra step laid on parents to obtain what should be easily obtained on the CPSD website. I’m sure that CPSD keeps these records or maybe not.
Director Anderson, with a second from Director Wagemann, made the following motion during Board Member Reports at the end of the 9 January 2023 Board meeting.
“Director Anderson moves that the district provide and regularly update on the district website, data that can be tracked per individual school that specifically addresses academic performance: English Language Arts (ELA)/Math/Science, Discipline, Attendance and Graduation Rates as applicable.”
Simple enough motion, yes? The response from Directors Pearson and Jacobs was anything but while Director Veliz sat silent during the ensuing debate.
A transcript of Directors Pearson’s and Jacob’s comments are available upon request from the author via Facebook Messenger.
Director Pearson stated that she could not support the motion because there was some kind of unspecified “narrative” behind it without explaining what the narrative was. Indeed it appears her narrative for rejecting the motion was to avoid personal, Board and District embarrassment over poor academic performance. She used an analogy comparing a child confronted by parents for a failing grade with the District staff, ostensibly all adults, confronted with the District’s academic failure. She claimed she was all for transparency, not hiding this data, and suggested that parents could search for the data on the OSPI website. However, it has been my experience that when you make things harder than necessary they don’t tend to get done.
Director Jacobs dwelt on the theme of COVID recovery. She claimed assessment scores had decreased during COVID and that publishing District schools’ academic statistics now “…is too soon“ and should be delayed until after schools have recovered from COVID, without any date certain. Director Jacobs apparently doesn’t realize that the District’s academic decline started long before COVID. This academic decline began in 2017, long before COVID which hastened it until the present.
The reality is that the Board members in opposition really have very little choice in the matter. Up for consideration at a 23/24 January 2023 School Board retreat are revisions of District Policies 1005- Planning and Key Functions of the Board; and 2004- Accountability Goals.
Policy 1005 states that the Board will: ”…adopt(ing) a system of continuous assessment of all conditions affecting education, including assessments for measuring staff and student progress towards goals. The public will be kept informed about programs and progress.”
Policy 2004 states, “Once a year the district will issue a report to parents and present it in a public meeting. The report will include the following:
- The district’s improvement goals.
- Student performance relative to the goals.
- District and building plans to achieve the goals, including curriculum and instruction, parent and guardian involvement, and resources available to parents and guardians to assist students in meeting the state standards.”
“Annually, the district will report the district’s progress toward meeting the district and building goals in a news release to local media. The report will also be included in each school’s annual school report.”
Objections by Board Directors to requirements already in Board policies makes you wonder whether they read, let alone abide by their own policies. These policy requirements do not appear to have been accomplished even once as I reviewed Board minutes back to 2017. It is every parent and tax payer’s right to know how the District is performing academically. The Board owes that to us: it’s why they were elected. Transparency is as transparency does.