Federal Way Mirror


Q&A with Mr. FW: Keep pressure on school district and be nice to your 'Cousin Eddie'

Federal Way Mirror columnist
December 6, 2013 · Updated 12:15 PM

Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email it to mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com. / Federal Way Mirror

Q: Mr. Federal Way, I thought the grading system was going to change back to the old format? I went to the district’s work study session on Tuesday and it seems to me that nothing is changing. What’s going on?

A: Mr. Federal Way and the rest of the parents in the school district have been reminded that the fight to get the standards-based grading system changed is far from over.

Close to 200 parents, students, teachers and administrators attended Tuesday night’s work study meeting at Federal Way High School regarding changes to the current grading system.

The school board called the meeting to discuss “additional grading system changes to the conditional matrix, which determines how a kid’s score on multiple standards are merged into a grade for a class.”

It’s true that the school board approved an adjustment to the standards-based grading system at its Nov. 26 meeting. The board approved no longer using “power law” to calculate a priority standard score at the middle and high school level. Instead, scores will be “determined by averaging the assessment scores for each priority standard to arrive at the final standard score.”

It’s a good start. But it’s just that, a start. It’s still unclear if there’s going to be more extensive “changes,” which is kind of scary.

What seems pretty clear to Mr. Federal Way is that there are still a lot of people, including members of the school board and Mr. Federal Way, who don’t have a clear understanding of how grades are currently calculated.

But it’s also clear that most teachers, parents and students who participated in the work study agree that things need to be fixed immediately, not in the future. Teachers need to have time to re-calculate grades before the semester ends next month.

It seems odd to Mr. Federal Way that all seven members of the school board don’t have a clear understanding of the current standards-based grading system.

Those seven members, who were elected by Mr. Federal Way and the Federal Way community, have all the power to make changes to this out-of-touch grading system. And it makes zero sense to Mr. Federal that all seven members don’t understand the current system front to back.

They need to be able to sit down with a concerned parent, teacher or student and have the ability to explain exactly how the grading system works and why a kid is getting a particular grade.

That’s really not much to ask, is it? That’s their job.

Mr. Federal Way has received some feedback from Mr. Federal Way’s embedded sources that there is also a lack of confidence that certain members of the board are actually listening to what the public has to say, which is also disconcerting.

Tuesday’s work session ended with Superintendent Rob Neu promising to make changes at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 10. But Neu was very vague about what exactly would be done and even offered a disclaimer that they might not be changing very much.

So, in conclusion, members of the Federal Way community need to keep the pressure on the school board to get something done ASAP.

Q: Why do University of Washington football fans think the Husky program is an elite, national-level program? They have gone to exactly two Rose Bowls since the late Don James left in 1992. Why are they so pompous?

A: Mr. Federal Way did a little research after receiving this question and figured out that the Washington State Cougars, the ugly step-sister from Pullman, have also been to two Rose Bowls during that same period.

That’s gotta hurt, Husky fans.

That pompous attitude was in full effect earlier this week when Steve Sarkisian accepted the USC job, leaving UW. After Sark quit, those same pompous Husky fans were quick to point out that he was an awful coach and they are better off without him. Really?

Mr. Federal Way seems to remember the Huskies posting a goose-egg in the win column the year before Sark came to town. They have now been to four-straight bowl games.

It always amazes Mr. Federal Way that sports fans actually get mad when a coach or player leaves your city to make more money. You know, you would do the same thing.

Heck, if somebody offered Mr. Federal Way a job making twice the money in sunny Southern California, Mr. Federal Way’s family would be on the first plane out of SeaTac. Mr. Beverly Hills or Mr. Huntington Beach has a nice ring to it.

It’s currently 20 degrees here and Mr. Federal Way has to get up a half-hour early just to warm the car up to get the layer of ice off the windshield. Mr. Federal Way would love to wear a pair of shorts and flip-flops to work in December.

Q: What is Mr. Federal Way’s advice for surviving the holiday season?

A: The easy answer to your question would be booze. But Mr. Federal Way is going against the grain on this one and not taking the easy way out.

Mr. Federal Way encourages everyone to just enjoy spending time with family during the holiday season. During Mr. Federal Way’s busy life with a wife and kids, sometimes Mr. Federal Way loses touch with other members of Mr. Federal Way’s circle of family. The holidays are a chance to rectify that.

And, although it can sometimes be a little tough to be around some of those family members, as evidenced by the Griswolds in the great movie “Christmas Vacation,” the holidays offer a great chance to catch up.

Every family has a “Cousin Eddie,” so just be thankful that the holiday season comes around only once a year.

Q: What are you asking Santa for this Christmas?

A: None of your business.

Got a question for Mr. Federal Way? Email mrfederalway@federalwaymirror.com

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