Q&A with Mr. Federal Way: District treats kids like guinea pigs

Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com. - Federal Way Mirror
Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com.
— image credit: Federal Way Mirror

Q: I was one of more than 100 parents who showed up to the Federal Way School Board meeting Tuesday night who was looking for answers regarding the standards based grading system. I came away with the opinion that the school board is not listening to its constituents. They are going to do what they want to do, and there’s nothing parents or students can do to change their minds.

A: Mr. Federal Way feels your pain. Here’s the sentiment that Mr. Federal Way took away from Tuesday night’s school board meeting — the children of Federal Way Public Schools are being used as guinea pigs.

The school district was in such a rush to implement this obviously-flawed standards based grading system to make a “name” for itself across the United States that it didn’t take into consideration the most important people within a school district — the students who work hard to get good grades.

It’s the job of Superintendent Rob Neu and the members of the Federal Way School Board to give the students of their district all the tools they need to succeed in life. This standards based grading system isn’t doing that.

They are making things extremely difficult not only on the students of the district, but also the parents and guardians.

Mr. Federal Way always tells the kids to try their best at everything they do. If you are going to clean your room, be the best room cleaner you can be. If you are filling the dishwasher, be the best dishwasher filler you can be. And, most importantly, if you are going to school, get the best grades you can get.

Mr. Federal Way knows, for a fact, that Mr. Federal Way’s kids have been working as hard as they can this year, only to see their grades slipping to “barely passing.” It’s demoralizing for everyone involved, and it’s a shame.

According to research from an ever-growing group of parents, there are no other schools or school districts in the country that have applied the controversial Power Law equation to a grading system for high school classes. In other words, this edition of standards based grading has never been tested in a real-world environment.

Mr. Federal Way is fully on-board with the 100-plus parents who attended Tuesday’s school board meeting. Turn off this edition of the standards based grading system until all the kinks are worked out. This needs to happen before the end of the 2013 first semester grading session, which concludes Jan. 29.

Nobody, including a lot of the teachers who must record and hand out these grades, can offer an explanation on exactly how every grade is calculated.

At that point, administrators and teachers within the Federal Way school district can work during the summer months, and maybe even the entire 2014-15 school year, getting on the same page in implementing the standards based system.

It’s just not prudent to make the current high school kids the guinea pigs for an untested grading policy. They are the ones who are hurt by the school district attempting to make a name for itself.

Mr. Federal Way agrees, wholeheartedly, with board member Danny Peterson, who said, “I don’t think it’s right. We should have looked through this, tested this, and figured out a lot of these fails before we ever implemented it in September.”

Seems like that would have been the logical thing to do.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, do you do any of your Christmas shopping on Black Friday? There are a lot of good deals out there.

A: There is nothing that could appeal less to Mr. Federal Way than getting up at 4 a.m. the Friday after Thanksgiving to go shopping. Nothing.

Mr. Federal Way honestly has no idea why anybody would even venture out of their house on that day. Is a 99-cent poinsettia, or saving $20 on a 50-inch television, worth dealing with hoards of angry housewives with their coupon books and bad attitudes?

But, Mr. Federal Way’s feelings toward Black Friday is obviously in the minority. It’s the biggest shopping day, by far, in the United States. Stores like Target, Best Buy, Macy’s and Walmart will even open at dinnertime on Thanksgiving Day.

Mr. Federal Way actually takes back the earlier comment. There is nothing that could appeal less to Mr. Federal Way than eating a humongous turkey dinner, backed up by pumpkin pie, whipped cream and 10 beers, and then heading out to battle for a Furby at Target.

So, as with every holiday season, Mr. Federal Way will procrastinate buying gifts until Christmas Eve, which is better known as the Black Friday for men. Happy shopping.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, to raise awareness of men’s health issues, are you growing a mustache for “Movember?"

A: None of your business.


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