Letter to the Editor: the need to get along
It's time to get along.
It has recently come to my attention that individuals at the Carbon School District are again attacking the integrity, education and educators at Pinnacle Canyon Academy.
In my opinion, this kind of behavior has gone on far too long. It is time to bury the hatchet and get along. We are all in the business of educating and meeting the needs of children. Not our children or your children, but all children in our community. We are a small community and we should all be modeling good character for these precious individuals who learn more from what we do than what we say.
In a time when the federal government has put into place standards to improve schools, much emphasis has been put on high stakes testing. Schools are now being compared and judged against each other based on a small snapshot of information. Just as we encourage parents to look at more than one test to judge their child's success, everyone should take the same approach when looking at school performance.
When looking at data, it is important to look at not just the numbers that are showing, but what goes into the numbers. When looking at AYP and UP ASS results, we must take into consideration what demographics make up the numbers. For example, all of these high stakes, one moment in time, test reports give an overall grade and school score. However, they also break down the results into sub groups, such as ethnicity, economically disadvantaged, and students with disabilities. Students are considered as students with disabilities when they have a learning deficit of more than two years. Schools with a higher percent of students in this category typically will score lower than schools with a lower percent.
A report was recently circulated by the school district comparing their most affluent school with a very low percent of students with disabilities in Pinnacle Canyon. This report had some erroneous information, but most noticeably missing were the percentages of students with disabilities. When comparing data, it is important to compare like information. When you compare a K-6 school with less than 15 percent students with disabilities to a K-8 school with more than 30 percent students with disabilities; it is like comparing apples and oranges. They are not the same.
Although schools are judged publicly based on these reports, all of the schools in Carbon and Emery counties are doing great things. We have great schools in our area, not because the test results say so, but because of our most important resource: our people. All of the schools both elementary and secondary have awesome teachers, staff, administration, and parents; but most importantly our schools have our most precious resource: our children. Walk into any school in this area, and you will find students learning, parents and community members volunteering, teachers, not only teaching, but also worrying about specific students. We all have a common goal, and that is meeting the needs of the students we serve.
Pinnacle Canyon is a school that serves the needs of 364 students. The high stakes reports don't show the individual successes, such as the 9th grade student who improved her reading fluency and comprehension five levels in nine months. To that student and her parents, the Criterion Reference Test results show a minor portion of what this young lady has accomplished.
In the beginning years of Pinnacle Canyon, our administrations and families had a friendly and mutually respectful relationship. Something happened approximately five years ago. That is when the focus was taken off the most important part of education, the children.
One of the misconceptions that has been floating around our community in recent years is that PCA has financially hurt the district. Although the district doesn't get the regular WPU (weighted pupil unit) for students who attend PCA; they don't provide services for these students either. Something that many people don't often hear is that every year, Carbon School District receives local levy money (from local property taxes, approximately $500,000) for all the students who attend Pinnacle Canyon. The district receives this money without providing any services to the students at Pinnacle Canyon. It seems to me that this is a bonus to the district.
Pinnacle Canyon, just like Castle Heights, Helper Jr. High, Carbon High and all the schools in Carbon County wants what is best for the population we serve. We all want to help the students in our community to become productive, respectful, responsible citizens.
Pinnacle Canyon represents choice. Just like the many rights that we have in our country, parents have the right to choose what is best for their own children. After all parents are the most important teachers in a child's life, and know what is best for them.
When deciding which school is the most successful, forget about the high stakes tests and public reports, which may or may not have complete information. Just ask yourself some simple questions: Is this school meeting my child's needs and helping him/her be successful? Is my child achieving and happy? Isn't that what is most important anyway?
I am extremely grateful to live in a country where I have the right to choose and to think for myself. It is my belief that we can all live in the same community together, not only peacefully, but we can interact and rely on each other's strengths to show our students that we have great integrity and character. It is up to us all to make this happen.
Our hand is out, please take it and together we will strengthen our community and our children.