Opinion

Federal Way's school graduation rate is symptom of parental negativity | My Perspective

Keith Livingston - Contributed
Keith Livingston
— image credit: Contributed

The open undercurrent of disdain from some in the community for the Federal Way Public Schools system intrigues me.

I know there are people who feel positively about the district’s potential, but there seems to be a history of failed funding initiatives and animosity of blaming the board, administration or teachers for the district’s lack of success.

I contend that education success starts in the home with a positive attitude. Our Esmeraldas and Jacobs are likely to be little “mini-me’s” when they attend school. If parents see the world through a negative lens, it is likely their children will do the same.

Children tend to repeat or value most what they hear and see at home. If you openly state disdain for their teachers or the schools they attend when you disagree with the way what is being taught or what is asked of you, your negativity may be part of the problem. Apathy toward your child’s education is even worse.

If your children do not instantly earn straight “A’s,” is it the school’s failure or a call to action for parents to spend more time understanding the challenges their children may be having with the learning process? As a parent, how do you support education?

Do you encourage your children to read? Are you a reader? Do you make sure their homework is done? Have you prioritized your children’s activities to be education or entertainment centered?

Nationwide, according to the U.S. Census, 86 percent of our adult population has a high school degree. Ninety percent of Washington state’s adult population has a high school degree and Federal Way’s adult population is at 89 percent. In 2013, Federal Way’s high school graduation rate was 73.4 percent.

I believe the district’s dropout rate and lower-than-expected recent graduation numbers are a symptom of the community’s undercurrent of negativity. As parents, are we calling the kettle black when we have not looked at ourselves first?

Are we setting a good example by reading and sharing words on a page?

I cannot find reading statistics for Federal Way adults, but the website statisticbrain.com offers a broader national insight into the reading challenge.

The site states that 33 percent of U.S. high school graduates never read a book after high school and that 42 percent of college students will never read a book after they graduate.

Blaming is always the easiest behavioral route for any problem we encounter.

So, school district, please accept that in my eyes, (point of view of some parents), you are a failure because you did not properly educate my child with my values.

My child should have graduated at the top of the class but finished at the bottom of the pack with an uncertain future.

I trusted you to overcome my shortcomings and prepare my child for a better future. Now what?

The public schools in this country since their inception have undergone scrutiny, scorn and praise

But, they consistently produce our nation’s leaders, scientists, doctors, nurses, engineers, artists, authors, homemakers, entrepreneurs, factory workers, farmers and in general educate our future.

The intellectual brightness and potential of children from one district to another is not significantly different but success rates often are.

Federal Way schools are graduating students who go onto college or into careers where they are excelling.

As parents and community residents, we need to be stewards of our destiny and that starts with education and setting the example in our homes for valuing education, reading, math, science, curiosity, art, dialogue and the pursuit of knowledge.

Quality schools start with the behavior of parents and what you choose to do in setting a positive example.

Federal Way resident Keith Livingston: keithlivingstondesign@gmail.com

 

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