Letters to the Editor

Students of color in Federal Way schools | Letters

I am the father of a beautiful 5-year-old daughter who is slated to start school in Federal Way this year.

I have been monitoring the debate regarding the levy and I am sincerely torn on the issue. On one hand, I want my daughter to benefit from a new school. On the other hand, I am concerned that what is happening inside the building may not be serving my daughter, or for that case students of color in general.

Let me explain. I took the time to pull Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) data on our school district as related to students of color. What I found scared the heck out of me.

Kids of color have been the majority in Federal Way School District since 2006. However, the school district has made little to no progress in closing the racial ethnic achievement/opportunity gap in the last 12 years. As a matter of fact, when looking at test scores — black, Latino and Pacific Islander students are scoring today at the same levels that white students scored in the late 1990s.

I found six charts that made me wonder: As a parent of a student of color, why would I trust my amazing, brilliant, talented daughter in a school system that statistically speaking is failing most kids like her?

Now don’t get me wrong, I asked several school district officials these questions before writing this letter. The responses have ranged from: “Do we have an achievement gap?” to “It is because of the demographics of our community‚“ and placed the blame on limited English speakers, kids of color and low-income or commuting parents. I agree we have a hard-to-reach population in Federal Way, but I can’t help wondering, if we know who our students and parents are, would it not behoove our district after 12 years to change its educational model and pedagogy to fit who lives in our community?

But the proof is in the pudding (or in this case the flan). The numbers say volumes.  Especially after 12 years.

John-Paul Chaisson-Cardenas, Federal Way


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