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Bridging the Federal Way school district and community | Letter
I am the recently selected Federal Way Public Schools board director and I have a great interest in expanding and improving the communication links we, as the Federal Way Public Schools Board of Directors, have with our community.
As I followed coverage of the board’s selection process by journalist Raechel Dawson and columnist Bob Roegner, it occurred to me that the Federal Way Mirror could provide a strong communication link to our community.
As I spoke with energized members of the Federal Way community on a variety of issues, an overlapping area of concern was the lack of opportunities for two-way communication with the school district in general, and more specifically with the board. Whether it was a confounding grading system that appeared to produce illogical results, perceptions of “hidden agendas” in “consent” votes, seemingly unheard pleas for budget priorities, or questions and concerns without any sense of closure, there was an underlying failure to communicate.
It is my intent to characterize the issues and questions I hear about in as many forums I can to facilitate input from the community. The community should feel strongly that their school system reflects policies, programs, and investments in programs they vocally supported for implementation. Given an opportunity, I have no doubt that the people of Federal Way will give their input on what needs to continue and what needs to change in their schools.
Federal Way Public Schools offer several ropes and ladders for children to latch onto and climb up out of bogs created by language, disability, poverty, malnutrition, bullying, isolation, lack of adult guidance, lack of role models and all the other real life factors that are never reflected in learning models of theoretical children.
Those on solid ground can reach for the skies with technical courses in automotive mechanics or college credit programs through Advanced Placement International Baccalaureate and the Cambridge University, but perhaps the so-called “achievement gap” is just a children’s version of the “glass ceiling.” Perhaps all they need is to see successful people tell them they can be successful too and be told where there is help so they can achieve their potential.
We have so many levers to pull in Federal Way to help our children reach their potential for success in life.
I believe communication about all the ropes and ladders we offer to our children can be facilitated through community forums. Representatives in parent-teacher and student organizations, church organizations, non-denominational organizations, business organizations, trade schools, colleges and universities could all be leveraged to show parents and children there is help and there is hope.
In two months we will have approved a budget for the next school year. This is later than normal, but perhaps a blessing in disguise. The community still has time to act and be heard. If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. Unfunded mandates are nothing but lip service.
The budget should reflect the priorities of the community. We need to give the community a means to voice their choice. While I appreciate and applaud the efforts of concerned citizens who come to make their three minute case before the board, the board needs to know that the community at large is speaking so they can move policy, programs and budget investments on more than a single voice, a story or some anecdotes.
To get there, we need to open lines of communication and the community will need to use them and be heard. The children of Federal Way need to have their community being heard. Right now they have less leverage than their ability to vote on the next “American ldol” or “Rising Star.”
Thank you for covering current issues facing our community. I hope we can leverage the Federal Way Mirror in getting the community back in the loop to lead our school district to be the envy of our region and our nation.
Hiroshi Eto, Federal Way Public Schools board