Monday, October 24, 2011

Letter to the Editor West Valley View

A recent letter writer made the claim that he had to remove his daughter from Freedom Elementary School to give her “a chance.” I’ve taught at Freedom for the bulk of the school’s existence, live a half mile away, my son graduated from Freedom in May and my younger son is in third grade there right now. I think I know the turf and am heavily invested. The school has never been better, and this is primarily related to an entire staff that is awesome. I teach middle school, so this is the area I know best and will speak of most.

Our reading and science scores are up dramatically, and this is in an environment in which our middle school staffing is down 20 percent in the last two years, not to mention the loss of other support areas such as librarian, ELD teacher, physical education teacher and the discipline coordinator. Our population is enormously transient given the housing market crash that continues unabated. I received a new student literally two days before the AIMS test in March and another 3 days before school was over in May to give you an idea of the constant revolving door the school faces through no fault of its own. One subject in one grade level not meeting an unrealistic benchmark can put an entire school on “warning status,” and give an unrealistic impression of what is happening in the big picture. While I hate to say a body as inept as the Arizona Department of Education is right on anything, when they say the AYP standard is unrealistic and misleading, they are quite correct.

The writer makes a factual error in saying the Freedom principal has eliminated writing instruction, and sarcastically mocks the idea that the social studies teacher can teach writing effectively. Writing has been spread among the staff in middle school and continues unchanged in the primary grades. It hasn’t been eliminated at all. And as the social studies teacher, I have 11 years experience teaching writing and have excellent student writing results at Freedom. We have two other highly qualified, effective and experienced writing teachers on the middle school team as well.

No one needs to pull their child out of Freedom or any Liberty School. What they need to do is vote in November for their own property values and their own children by supporting the $9 per month school budget override. They might also consider contacting their child’s teacher and saying, “How can I help you help my child.” And if really motivated, perhaps join the local PTO and pitch in. Those steps would be far more effective than making factual misstatements and insulting people who work long hours with low pay, little job security and lots of abuse for doing an amazing job. Stop by and see for yourself if you don’t believe me.

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