What’s RIGHT with Today’s Schools?
The State Supreme Court Decision recently handed down, says that our state has not been fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully and amply fund our public education system. Of course, this decision will result in many challenges and questions as to the wisdom of investing in education – especially when we typically hear how poorly our schools are doing. I admit I get a bit defensive when I hear people say our schools are not doing well. In fact, our schools are doing better today than ever before.
One of my favorite anecdotes is a New York Times story which noted that, "A large majority [of incoming college students]...could not identify such names as Abraham Lincoln....Some students believed that George Washington was president during the War of 1812...and St. Louis was placed on the Pacific Ocean, Lake Huron, the Atlantic Ocean."

Sounds like today's typical bashing, doesn’t it? But guess what — this New York Times story was published in 1943!

Today’s test scores, by most accounts, prove that our students are learning more, taking many more advanced classes, and are better educated than ever before. For Example:

• According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, Current Population Survey, the school dropout rate has been declining since 1972. African American, Hispanic, and Native American graduation rates are improving the fastest.
• National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in 4th- and 8th-grade math and reading have never been higher than they are today.

• For the eighth consecutive year, Washington students have scored above the national average on the ACT, which measures college and career readiness. Students in the class of 2011 finished ahead of 41 other states, with an average composite score of 22.8.
• For the eighth consecutive year, Washington students had the highest average SAT scores in the nation among states where more than half the eligible students took the tests. And Washington students scored higher in critical reading, math, and writing than all other states in which at least 25 percent of students tested. (The percentage of students tested is significant because generally the more students who test, the lower their scores.)
• According to OSPI, Washington’s on-time high school graduation rate was 76.5 percent in 2010, which is a 3 percent increase over the on-time rate of 73.5 percent for those in the Class of 2009.

• Received either state or national recognition for improvement the past five years in a row
• Washington State Achievement Award – “Overall Excellence”
• AP History Courses: Dramatic increase in the number of students earning scores of 3 or better guaranteeing college credit internationally
• Mathematics: More students enrolled and passing rigorous course work at CHS (100 more students taking Algebra II compared to 5 years ago)
• 77% of those surveyed in spring 2011 gave Chelan Schools an ‘A or B’ grade.
• Increased Math scores in 5 of 7 grades on the MSP (state assessment)
• Bronze Award for 5-10% improvement in Math for migrant students on our state math test
• 27% cohort growth for 6-7th grade math students on our state assessment.
• Highest number of UW College in the High School Math courses than any other school in the state
• CHS had the Highest graduation rate of all GEAR-UP Schools along the HWY 97 corridor
• 100% of our students applied for Post High School Education/Training.

My point is this: It makes sense to invest in a system that is continuing to improve and do so with more challenges, less money and through greater efficiencies. We are doing many, many things that are RIGHT in education. Most importantly, we are helping the next generation gain the tools and resources to reach their dreams and contribute in a positive way to our society. Yes, we have many challenges and we need to acknowledge them and do our best to overcome them. But we also have much to celebrate! Let’s be sure to get that message out as well!
As always, thank you for your continued support and involvement in your schools.

Rob Manahan