On the fourth anniversary of President Bush's declaration of victory in Iraq, I am reminded that saying something is true, doesn't make it true, nor does repeating it over and over again.
The mantra in our schools has been "soaring achievement." Although there is no doubt that a great many of our students do soar, there are far more standing by, watching. When the rhetoric is only about successes, it is hard to know what is being done for those who are less fortunate.
While many parents talk about the need for change, the desire to meet the needs of all children, the district continually responds with facts and figures suggesting their needs are being met. The reality is somewhere between soaring achievement and unacceptably slow progress. The challenge for parents and residents is to know where reality lies. I would submit that it is unlikely, as well as unhealthy from a systemic view, for those charged with the responsibility of educating our children to provide an unbiased view of how they are performing. I think it is time for the community, in conjunction with experts in the district and from outside the district, to develop an instrument that can provide an honest, accurate and useful assessment of the levels our children have achieved. If that is not possible, then perhaps there is another way to encourage the district to undertake an honest self-assessment and reflect upon its performance.
The budget process, too, needs outside review to present a clear picture of what is in the budget and what the numbers mean. The supposed pain of adding or subtracting positions was exposed for what it was, a public relations ploy, when the board approved more than a million in budget transfers in recent weeks. That means some areas were over budget, and some under. That happens and is normal. It just makes the process seem out of touch with reality.
If you are interested in helping set up a framework for providing transparency in these aspects of our school district's operations, please let me know.