Wichita school board endorsements

Thank you to The Wichita Eagle for printing this letter in today’s newspaper.

An incumbent, a candidate endorsed by another incumbent, and a past president of the teachers union: these are three of the four endorsements by The Wichita Eagle for the Wichita Board of Education. These endorsements represent satisfaction with our schools’ current condition. But what do we find when we look at our schools?

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only one-third of Kansas eighth-graders (Wichita figures are not separately available) are considered “proficient” in mathematics, reading, and writing.

A recent study of high school transcripts by the same organization found that students are taking more college-prep courses and receiving higher grades in these courses, yet math and reading test scores for these students are falling to as low as they’ve been since the early 1990s.

Closer to home for a newspaper, a recent study by the American Institutes for Research found that “over half the graduates of four-year colleges and three-quarters of the graduates of junior and community colleges could not be categorized as possessing these ‘proficient’ skills.” At what skills are they not proficient? Understanding newspaper editorials was one such skill.

Change is needed for the sake of our children. Three of the candidates the Eagle did not endorse — Karl Peterjohn, John Stevens, and Cindy Duckett — would, each in their own way, bring different perspectives to the Wichita Board of Education. That is something that would be truly good for Wichita schoolchildren.

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