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Letter: School Bond Defeat not the end of the World for Education

Resident L.A. Warriner weighs in on the future of Mercer Island's schools.

Some recent letters to newspapers express much disappointment that the School Bond failed. However, I don't think people need to be so overwhelmingly dispirited about any anticipated negative effects of the NO vote.

Consider, for example, the recent report that Lakeridge Elementary received its second Washington Achievement Award in Excellence based on its performance in: language arts, math, science, etc. This award is based on the Washington Achievement Index which evaluates state wide assessment data for the previous three years.

Further, if you look up online the year-by-year performance results for the elementary schools, you will notice no drop-off in recent years as would be expected if learning conditions were as dire now as some claim.

Could it be that bricks-and-mortar are not the sine qua non of the educational experience? Social science and educational researchers have identified socio-economic status (SES), composed of parental education, income and occupation, as the major predictor of educational and, in fact, life outcomes.

While Mercer Island is no doubt a high SES zip code, I don't believe that school building conditions are trivial for learning and should be ignored. But there is a wide range of acceptable building conditions that bear on academic performance and our schools are likely still well within that range. (Besides we are blessed with good teachers.)

Is there room for improvement? Should we anticipate future needs? Of course. There are data-informed decisions to be made about making near term improvements, the size of our future student population, the need for a new school or not, and what size schools should be, among many other things.

Much work has already been done as has been pointed out and it all and needs to be reviewed. I would guess that many more people are willing to get involved in the process now if they are given plenty of notice and made to feel welcome.

L. A. Warriner

Brian Emanuels May 05, 2012 at 04:53 PM
We (the school board) welcome your, and other Islanders', input on how you think we should move forward to solve our school capacity dilemma. We are holding listening sessions on Tuesday, May 22, 9:30 - 11:00 a.m. at PEAK (MI Boys and Girls Club on 86th Ave. SE), and Thursday, May 24, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room (commons) at Islander Middle School. For those who may not be able to attend, the Board is also inviting citizens’ comments via email: SchoolBoard@misd.wednet.edu.
TJ Paine May 06, 2012 at 12:19 AM
After the harsh words spoken to the Board member who had thoughtfully expressed his ideas prior to the election by another member, many of us are skeptical that the Board is ready to listen. It seems that the majority of the Board believes in continuing the fight and pointing fingers without acknowledging who brought the Board motion to the floor. Where is the transparency so much touted to the members of the community who voted no. It was ironical that a Board member was chastising another because he did not follow proper protocol while the Board member herself was not following the protocol of civility. Neither the Chair nor the Superintendent suggested the harshness of the ciritcism was out of line. Unless the Board Policies of Listening with respect are followed, nothing can be accomplished and many will not want to speak. We appreciate an opportunity to express what is a better solution for the stated overcrowding to continue the excellent education our students have available. WE must trust that the Board will listen to the creative ideas and find a new solution
Jerry Gropp Architect AIA May 07, 2012 at 02:43 PM
As a long-time architect and a long-time MI resident, I was very glad to see the recent "tear-down" School Bond issue fail. I hope it will be replaced with a carefully drawn, balanced one. Jerry-

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