I'd like Micah Pepper (July 16 letter to the editor) to offer some concrete solutions as to how we can improve the academic success of a student of the Washington School District, since the $18,000 spent yearly per student has yielded "poor academic outcomes."
According to Pepper, Pennsylvania must enact "more robust accountability by funding students rather than school districts." Good idea: Let's find a way to factor in putting food in their stomachs, clothes on their backs and a safe roof to live under. This is the kind of support that public schools have to deal with every day. How much would we allow for the readiness-for-learning budget? I'll bet the majority of cyberschools don't budget for these services.
"Highest accountability is found in parental choice." No one in education would argue that student achievement increases with parental involvement. If education is valued and encouraged at home, students are pre-set to do better in school. In more depressed school districts, there is a higher percentage of single-parent households when sometimes there is no parent there because they are trying to earn a living or the family is dysfunctional for some reason. Who is going to help Johnnie with his homework then? Do we factor in the expense of after-school tutoring here?
When it comes right down to it, parents who elect other alternatives to public schools are already making a commitment to be a part of their students' success. This makes for an elite group of students to work with. They SHOULD be successful. How about the kids left at the starting gate, when parents can't or won't make the necessary commitments? How do you help those kids? Figure out a budget for that.
Singling out Washington School District or any school district for basis of this type of comparison in order to make a point is inaccurate and downright unfair. When we find a way to factor in socio-economics, genetics and familial support, only then can we take steps to make the comparisons necessary to increase accountability. Until we find a way to achieve this lofty goal, we are comparing apples to, well, moon rocks.