Letters to the Editor

Communities In Schools endorses levy for FWHS | Letters

Dear Federal Way voters,

You know Communities In Schools of Federal Way as an organization that supports students that are at risk of dropping out of school.

One of the schools we work in is Federal Way High School. We have a full time School Outreach Coordinator who works in the school. We also place volunteers who give their time to support students at school. And you know what? It’s a dreadful building. We know because we are there every day. Not one adult I know would like to work in that type of work space. Ceiling panels are falling down. The roof leaks. The heating system doesn’t work properly. I don’t know about you, but I can’t concentrate when I am cold. The other day I was there when students were changing classes and it was unbelievable how crowded the hallways were. Since the building was originally built as an elementary school 74 years ago, it’s hardly suitable for 1,600 high school students today.

OK, so it’s a terrible building, but it’s more than that. It puts the students who attend there at an academic disadvantage. Studies about student academic achievement and building condition conclude that the quality of the physical environment significantly affects student achievement. "There is sufficient research to state without equivocation that the building in which students spends a good deal of their time learning does in fact influence how well they learn." (Earthman, G 2004:18).

The majority of the students we support have many other barriers to learning. Having a poor learning environment is just one more hurdle that they have to overcome to be successful enough to decide to stay in school. The other thing that really bothers me is the mixed message we are sending our kids. We say “Education is important. Kids are our future.” We expect our students to go to school, concentrate and learn. Then we send them to a school that is falling down, doesn’t have current technology because the building can’t support it, and has 49 entrances - which makes it unsafe. It’s a negative message that really tells them they are not valued.

Telling our students one thing, then not backing it up by offering a decent facility is a completely different message that they receive.

It’s time we fix this very real problem. If the levy passes, students will have a modern, safe place to go to school and learn. Studies show that quality learning environment may increase test scores, attendance and overall student achievement. I believe it will reverse that negative message they are currently getting. Having a school that isn’t falling apart will tell them they are valued, they are important and we want them to be successful! It’s a very powerful message; one that encourages students to stay in school and graduate.

So we are urging you to vote yes on Nov. 6. Vote yes for the levy. Vote yes for a quality learning environment for our students. Vote yes for a better future for our students.

Tracy Oster, executive director, Communities In Schools of Federal Way


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