Wichita school bond won’t fix this

Wichita school employees and students are happy that the bond issue passed. As Wichitans watch new facilities being built — and as we start to pay for them — we need to remember that there are some things that this spending isn’t capable of fixing.

Both Helen Cochran and I received email messages from a young man who says he graduated from one of the Wichita school district’s large high schools in 2007. The writing of this recent graduate reveals a problem within Wichita’s schools.

A quick analysis of the writing tells us that person has no idea of when a writer should stop one sentence and begin the next. He repeatedly demonstrated that he doesn’t understand the difference between to and too. When to use there versus their is a problem, too.

Helen responded to him and expressed concern about his writing. His response? “No disrespect mam but I averaged a 4.0 GPA in highschool, I had no idea that you were going to judge me on my sentences otherwise I would have checked every single bit of my typing.”

Both Helen and I were shocked that someone who writes like this would have earned the grade of “A” in any writing class. What’s really curious is that he seems to claim the he could write correctly if he knew he was going to be graded. If, however, someone knows how to write correctly, if someone knows when to use there versus their, why not be correct all the time? It would take extra effort to “dumb down” correct usage to what this former student sent us.

Furthermore, this is a problem that the bond issue isn’t going to fix. Of all the things the bond issue will do, probably the one that would most directly address this young man’s problem is the district’s claim that smaller class sizes are better for student achievement. Does anyone believe, however, that the problem here is that this student was in classes that were slightly overcrowded? Did overcrowding cause teachers to grade writing like this with an “A”?

It might be that this student is lying to us about earning straight “A” grades. If so, that’s another problem, one that bond spending can’t fix. But if we take this student at his word, there is a severe problem within the Wichita school district that bond spending won’t fix.

9 Comments

  • This young man was probably lying about his good grades. A student with a 4.0 knows that he should communicate clearly and effectively all of the time — especially when writing to complete strangers!

  • Unfortunately, just try hiring a young graduate, even college, for a position. They all spell terribly, can’t fill out a simple form, can’t do basic math – and evidently can’t tell time or days of the week to show up for work.

  • Kate, I sent an email message to this young man and asked him if he would send a report card or something like that which would allow us to verify his claim. I’ll be sure to post if I get a response.

  • I am a recent college graduate. I can spell, fill out a form, do basic math (I can also 10-key) and tell time. Are you offering a job? I could use the extra income.

  • Is the bond a fixit? -

    I guess I don’t understand. Is the bond supposed to be a “fix-it?” I don’t believe that it is or that it should be. I thought that it was about giving adequate space for students to learn, increasing connectedness, etc. I am excited that the bond passed to address these issues, but I do realize that teachers and other staff must do all that they can to ensure that students are successful. I believe that the district is taking the change in education to heart. The people in charge of the educational system are using research to make decisions to better guide the initiatives they take on.

  • The main campaign theme of USD 259 was that everything in this bond is for student achievement. They also point to many years of rising test scores.

    I’d disagree with your claim that they’re using research to make decisions. If you ask them for the research they claim they’re using, it might take them a week or more to produce it, despite assurances that it will be ready any day.

    Now if they were relying on research to guide decisions, you’d think they would have it on hand, wouldn’t you?

  • Is the bond a fixit? -

    The bond projects will aid in student achievement – not be a “fix-it.” I guess if you really wanted to know the answer about what the administrator’s are using to guide their decisions – I would ask. If you decide to do this, I suggest you go in with an open mind.

    There are no clear cut answers to solving the problems in public education – if there were, everyone would be doing it. They are using research to base decisions upon, whether you agree or not. My question for you is, “What are you doing to support progress?”

  • I think that only someone with a personal stake in maintaining the public school bureaucracy could write the things that you do. You’re ignoring the things I’ve told you I’ve done.

    I’ve worked for progress. It’s just not the same progress that you believe in.

  • Where’s the non-bias? I believe in the public schools – but I wouldn’t look at this site – if I didn’t wonder about what you think. I just wish that you would put out both sides. You continually lay out a case against public schools – but never say that there are things that are working. I’ve said, several times, that public schools (that goes for private/charter schools as well) don’t know it all – they need support in multiple different ways. There are amazing things coming out of several schools – but they can always improve. It would be interesting to see what could be accomplished if all groups worked together for the needs of the community – all coming in with an open mind at how we should look at it together.

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