"High Achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." - Charles Kettering

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Evansville School District Fails Students

My daughter, a Junior this year, has been waiting for her schedule to be posted for a month. On Thursday, my friend informed me that the schedules could only be accessed from the parents accounts. When I looked at her schedule, I was appalled. It was clear that whoever scheduled her was entirely clueless as to her goals and aspirations of attending college as a business major. All her business choices were replaced with two gym classes, a foods class and that intro to nursing student class they started a few years ago. None of which were on her list of alternate classes and none of which makes a college prep schedule. Nobody called us with the problems at all, because, according to the guidance office, they only called in the Seniors this year. There was no chance for us to sit in the guidance office and go over this methodically or wisely, just a hurried few phone calls. Finally, she was offered distance learning opportunities for AP Psych. Only the counselor forgot to tell me that parents are required to pay $350 to enroll their kid in this "opportunity" to properly incent the kids to do well so it's not a waste of money. The money is returned when the kid "satisfactorily completes" the class. Lynda Olenik, the former GT coordinator who is the latest critical employee to flee the district, called me to tell me about the fee. She's staying long enough to get kids started on their distance learning options.  I told her I had to discuss it with Bill. I wrote a huge letter to the school board, the administrator and copied the principal and guidance with the following summary. I asked the district reps in my letter if they expected every parent of every kid who flunked a district offered class to reimburse them for the poor result? I informed the district that I was uninterested in floating them a loan for 4 months and I expected them to come up with a class she can take that is college preparatory and on her list of desirable classes. I also told them that this experience embodies all the reasons people are fleeing from the district, both teachers and students. These break down into at least three general areas of failure:

1-Horrible communication. Why weren't we notified in a timely fashion as to the problems with her schedule? Why weren't emails sent to parents when kids schedules were available? It's a heck of a lot easier to shop for school supplies if you know what your class load will be. Had they anticipated the problems with her getting her business classes, she could have been enrolled in Youth Options last February and avoided the fees completely.

2-Horrible plant/classroom support. An increase in the maximum students per classroom to 30 has reduced the number of instructors to a level that does not sustain good internal options for kids to take. Also, apparently being a business major is not compatible with taking advanced math and science classes because all the business classes she wanted were offered during her discrete math and AP environmental science class. Really. So she's supposed to choose between earning cheap college credits and getting the classes she needs to enter her field? And since when are business and science/math mutually exclusive? Bill Gates anybody?

3-Complete lack of customer service/awareness. We have lived in Evansville since our daughter was one, so she has attended the district for her entire school career. She has been on the college prep track since grade school and nobody in the office putting together her schedule knew that placing 2 gym classes, a medical career survey class and a foods class was incompatible with her needs? I am appalled at the cavalier way in which her schedule was thrown together and cannot fathom what they were thinking, if any thinking at all went on. They are screwing with kids' futures and this has to stop. I called the principal because I was told to do so by the guidance office since it was his decision to keep everyone in the dark as to the scheduling problems, except Seniors, because, well, they have to graduate. I have not received a call back.

We have been passionately involved with our kids' educations for 14 years. I told them I am weary of having to pound tables to get my kids the bare minimum of what they need. It's exhausting and I have other things on my plate right now that reduce the amount of energy I'm willing to expend to beat the district about the head and shoulders to show them the proper way to educate my kids. They are educators and, as they insist, professionals. It should not necessitate my constant intervention to get them to challenge my kids so they are ready to attend university.

So step up or lose funding ECSD. We are not the only family that is disillusioned and disappointed with this latest in a long line of district blunders. Wake up and smell the loss of revenue, dudes. 4K won't save you from this glaring lack of basic educational needs, despite the misguided notions perpetuated by the Wisconsin DPI.

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