Even Eagle River HS students are failing in proficiency - Must Read Alaska
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Saturday, April 4, 2020
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Even Eagle River HS students are failing in proficiency

By MICHAEL TAVOLIERO

In my first column in this series, I indicated the average math proficiency in the Organized Borough is 39.45 percent and in the Unorganized Borough it is 25.17 percent.  Average English language arts (ELA) proficiency in the Organized Borough is 44.30 percent and in the Unorganized Borough it is 28.85 percent. 

Next to health care, education is the largest total spend for the State of Alaska every year. With this state provided documentation, could a reasonable person conclude the root and existential cause of this large spend is the state’s government education system itself?  

In 2018, former Eagle River/Chugiak Senator Anna MacKinnon understated the dilemma when she said, “We always see districts asking for more money to do exactly what they’re doing. And I’m telling you, it appears the system is broken.”

There is no appearance.  

The system is dysfunctional and mangled.  

This is a fact wrapped by the reality of the State’s own website, skewered by undeniable data revealing our failure and a failing future roasting over an unattended and chaotic fire fueled by obstinacy, unintelligence, and myopia and sprinkled with a bit of denial and delusion.  

Our local, state and federal employees as well as our local, state and federal policy makers (state legislators pay attention!) who are responsible for this clearly known epic failure should not be fired.  They should all voluntarily resign for this tragic outcome like failed samurai falling on their swords en masse. 

Alaska’s children are failing to meet the state’s own education proficiency standards. Regardless of whoever wants to assuage these facts with whatever rationale, excuses and prevarications, the state’s own Department of Education and Early Development has posted the data for all of us to see.  The result is our own failure to educate our progeny in the two most vital education prerequisites, math and English language arts.  Without these, our children will fail in modern society.

How can any Alaskan adult not be angry and demand immediate competent measurable change?

Going back to the state’s website, the “Overall School Index Value” is the “sum of the school’s performance points in each indicator with the appropriate weight applied”. The more government gets involved in the execution of education, especially the federal government, the more hierarchically obtuse and profusely dogmatic the outcome – with the financial benefits going to everyone but our own children.

Remember my friendly conversation. I’d assumed Eagle River High School was the praised school based on that chat.  

Here’s what is on the state’s website for Eagle River High School.  Attendance is 94.06 percent.  Not bad. Grades served 9 through 12.  These students are the future of our community. Awesome. 

Number of students is 841 and number of teachers is 38 yielding a student teacher ratio of 22.12-to-1.  Not bad. A little higher than the national standard of 16:1.

Here again are the startling realities of the data presented in the state’s website.   

With a sampling of 247 students tested (almost 30 percent of the 2018/2019 enrollment), the average math proficiency at Eagle River High School is 50.20 percent and with a sampling of 251 students tested (almost 30 percent of the 2018/2019 enrollment), the average ELA proficiency is 48.61 percent.  

In other words, of the tested students, more than 49 out of every 100 students tested at Eagle River High School are not meeting average math proficiency and more than 51 out of every 100 students tested at Eagle River High School are not meeting average English language arts proficiency.  

I can’t see this as success.  Can you?

Michael Tavoliero is a realtor at Core Real Estate Group in Eagle River, is active in the Alaska Republican Party and chairs Eaglexit.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Well, when my home-schooled kids hit UA no wonder it is easy for them to excel when the competition can’t read or add, let alone know which end of the transmission the power goes in.

  • Is the household income relative to a school’s performance?

    • That’s a great question. “Economically disadvantaged” and “not economically disadvantaged” are quantified. That relationship of data record sets on the DEED’s website, I believe, are relative to federal education standards and money and not necessarily school performance.

      • When my parents first started out they weren’t even middle class, or even lower class, they had no class at all.They lived in a trailer and they were happy to have a roof over their head. In was in that little trailer that my mother taught me how to read, I had a reading level of a third grade student by the time I even reached kindergarten. If parents aren’t engaged with their child’s education, or care what they learn, then they can’t put it on Teacher’s. I think this is a fine example that you don’t depend upon the State to educate your child, , because they can’t do it, won’t do it, don’t have the funds to do it, don’t have the skills to do it. I thank the God above that my mother taught me how to read at such a young age. Reading is everything, you can learn anything and everything just by reading.

        • BINGO!!!!! You hit the nail on the head!
          If the parents don’t care, nothing else is going to matter.
          I am in my 60s, and when I was little, my parents were VERY interested in how I was doing in school, especially since my mother was a teacher in that school district ( this was not in Alaska).
          Parenting matters. Throwing money at it doesn’t necessarily help.

  • Here’s the deal. If a student can do basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division coupled with good reading comprehension and writing skills, that student will be equipped to succeed in life. But instead of focusing on these critical building blocks our schools are obsessed with diversity and inclusion and LQBTLMNOP nonsense. Or they feel the need to allow students to walk out to protest a school shooting from over 20 years ago. Kids only get one chance to get an education. How many in Anchorage have been sent into the world ill-prepared to fend for themselves? How many more will be similarly handicapped before the adults say “Enough”? Mr. Tavoliero is sounding the alarm. Is anyone listening?

  • I nominate Michael Tavoliero for this weeks’ “Hedley LaMarr (That’s HEDLEY) Dramatically Wordy Spiel” for this beauty:
    “This is a fact wrapped by the reality of the State’s own website, skewered by undeniable data revealing our failure and a failing future roasting over an unattended and chaotic fire fueled by obstinacy, unintelligence, and myopia and sprinkled with a bit of denial and delusion. “

  • Close down all public schools and privatize them. They are almost a total failure. Alternatively, use their performance % records to determine the amount of public funds available to them. Reduce their funding to the level of their performance.

  • A high school buddy of mine was getting interviewed by one of those College Admissions people, and he was asked, “Give me three words to describe yourself.” He had never thought about that before, and came up blank. His brother replied, when the story came home, “That’s easy, you’re Fat, Dumb, and Happy !” Which is how the story was retold to me. My buddy went on to have a long and successful career as a Lawyer. If we knew where the dysfunction was, certainly something would be done about it. It appears that money is not the answer, and that in fact the converse may be true. Too much money permeates the system. We get the result that brings. Hey, “I’m fat, dumb, and happy !”

  • My mother taught me how to read before I even got to kindergarden. I was reading The Big Book of Mother Gooses’s stories. It was published before I was born and it had numerous publishing dates to the 90’s. I handed it down to a young child who loved those rhymes and since it was the first book I learned how to read out of, I was happy to part with it for him. My mother told me they weren’t happy that she taught me how to read and not to do it with my brother, this was in the early 60’s, they said that I wouldn’t be in sync with the class and it was their job to do it. So my mother did not teach my brother to read and it was years later when he could even write a sentence with any sense. Teach your children well, don’t depend on the State to do it for you. Thanks Mom. I had an advantage, I had a mother who taught me how to read.

  • Number of students is 841 and number of teachers is 38 yielding a student teacher ratio of 22.12-to-1. Not bad. A little higher than the national standard of 16:1
    maybe you should take a 35% cut in your commissions. It would only be a little bit lower.

    • I was thinking the same thing – what a ridiculous assertion and ironic failure in basic math.

  • I just had a pleasant chat with a millennial graduate from Alaska public schools. She had never heard of George Custer, Little Big Horn, Crazy Horse, Sitting Bull nor any of the other associated people or occurrences, though she was taught about the heartless massacre at Wounded Knee. We discussed other significant historical events and places, of which she also expressed complete ignorance.

    “Those who control the present, control the past and those who control the past control the future.”

    ― George Orwell, 1984

    Our extremely well-funded education system fails us now and unless we move to retake control the future is lost. The responsibility lies with parents, not teachers, who too often follow the patriarch of progressive education, John Dewey.

    “You can’t make socialists out of individualists. Children who know how to think for themselves spoil the harmony of the collective society, which is coming, where everyone is interdependent.”

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