To the Editor

December 11, 2012

By Contributor

Liberty schedule change

Change will equal lost opportunities

I am a Liberty parent. I wish to relay my own story of my daughter’s experience with eight periods.

As a sophomore, she is taking core classes of English, biology, algebra 2 and European studies, and also Japanese, physical education and two additional classes — choir and child development. She wants to be a teacher.

She needs a world language to get into college, so her only true “electives” are choir and child development. In a six-period day, she wouldn’t be able to take either one.

With choir, she had the opportunity to sing at The Landing a few weeks ago; the smile on her face while she was singing brought me to tears — she is passionate and joyful when she sings, and it’s a class she genuinely looks forward to.

On Wednesdays, school starts late; this past Wednesday, she decided to get up early to work on an assignment for child development. Eventually, I had to remind her she needed to stop so she wouldn’t miss the bus, and she was upset — she wanted to keep working on a homework assignment rather than get ready for school. I don’t think I could say she would be that excited about doing homework for any other class. My heart sinks when I think about the loss of opportunity for our kids going to a six-period schedule.

The district should postpone changing the schedule for at least one more year. More time is needed so students can plan how reducing their number of classes affects their ability to graduate on time. This year’s juniors could have their graduation plans in jeopardy if they suddenly only had six classes instead of eight.

I hope the board carefully considers the community’s feedback and votes against the district’s recommendation of a six-period schedule.

Joan Friel

Liberty parent

 

Not all requirement options are feasible

I’m the mother of five Liberty graduates and two future graduates. I have reviewed the district’s recommendation to move Liberty to a six-period schedule. I am concerned about the options presented for making the six-period schedule work for students.

The district notes that taking high school requirements in middle school, or taking online classes or summer classes are ways for high school students to make a six-period schedule work. I believe that these options favor gifted students and more advantaged families in our district. Struggling students are not going to be successful taking high school classes in middle school. Online and summer classes cost money, which is not feasible for all families.

With its current eight-period schedule or the seven-period schedule recommended by the committee, Liberty students can be successful without having to piece their credits together using these options. Forcing Liberty to a six-period schedule, just because the other two high schools have one and are making it work, is not smart.

Instead, the board should allow Liberty to pilot a seven-period schedule. If successful, as a district we can then start planning how to offer seven periods to all high school students. This would allow us to provide an optimal learning experience that combines enough seat time in core classes with access to elective opportunities that enrich our high school students.

Melanie Zimmerman

Renton

 

Data is out of context, misleading

I am concerned about the process that is being followed for the proposed Liberty High School schedule change. The district only showing selected data points that support its case of moving to a six-period schedule as a factual argument is wrong.

During the Nov. 7 board meeting, the district showed the board the following selected data points: a single year single EOC score comparison between Liberty and Maywood, SAT and PSAT. This data was taken out of context of the larger view and is misleading (some might call it lying) at best.

The key data points that the district and state uses to evaluate high school performance are the EOC and HSPE scores. Liberty does very well on these compared to Issaquah and Skyline, so this data was omitted to manipulate the viewers to come to the wrong conclusion. The actual data for 2012 HSPE tests for 10th grade is:

Liberty High School

  • Reading 94 percent
  • Writing 96.1 percent

Issaquah High School

  • Reading 93.4 percent
  • Writing 95.5 percent

Skyline High School

  • Reading 96 percent
  • Writing 98.4 percent

Data was taken from the Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (as referenced on the Issaquah School District website) http://bit.ly/11TVF2f.

From this data that Washington state uses to evaluate high schools, it shows that Liberty high school is doing very well compared to the other two high schools in the district. I am disappointed that this data was left out of the presentation to the school board.

The final conclusion that I come away with is there is no objective data that shows that Liberty students will be better off moving to a six-period schedule.

Chris Marney

Parent of Liberty High School student

Graduate of Liberty High School ‘83

 

We need to create well-rounded children

I am a future parent of a Liberty student and have been following the Liberty schedule process. I appreciate your coverage of this issue.

I feel that as a school district we have gotten off track with what is important for our kids — we need to be creating well-rounded children that will be competitive for college placement and will do well in the workforce. We’ve heard from college admittance representatives that kids with diversity of subjects on their transcripts are more favored at many schools. I also know as an employer, I look for candidates that have creativity and passion beyond core subjects.

While STEM learning is indeed important, it is not everything and should not be the district’s only focus. It was clear at the board meeting this week that the district is only placing value on core subjects. This is too limited and is not consistent with the mission and goals of the district.

I ask that the board embrace a broader vision of what a successful student looks like and votes to reject the six-period recommendation put forth by Superintendent Steve Rasmussen.

Janda Keenan

Newcastle

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