The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
I read that the Warrensburg R-VI School District is training students in TV production. The high school now has its own “television studio complete with cameras, video editing equipment, a sound stage, teleprompter and blue screen.” The studio was paid for by a state grant. The story didn’t tell how much this system cost, but these things aren’t cheap.
One would expect that the money gained from all the recent tax increases levied by the R-VI district would have gone into educational improvements. However, by reading Missouri Assessment Program test results, it appears that the board has a different definition of improving education than do many taxpayers.
The MAP tests have 5 levels. These levels are Step 1, Progressing, Nearing Proficient, Proficient and Advanced. Most recently, almost 48% of our 8th & 10th graders tested in the bottom two levels in math, while less than 20% are proficient. The other 2 of the 3 Rs (“Communication Skills”) are tested in the 7th & 11th grades. Again, over 25% of the students are incompetent while 25% to 40% where proficient. Science results (7th & 10th grades) are dismal, with well over half testing incompetent and less than 10% proficient. Their high spot was Social Studies, where over half of 8th graders were proficient; 11th grade results reverted to the usual dismal level, with 3 rated incompetent for every two proficients.
The school administration may tell us that this is an improvement, and they may be right; in 1999 almost 60% were essentially incompetent at math. However, we can wonder if there is a correlation between student ability and the proliferation of sports, extracurricular activities, and new classes (did you know that WHS has a class in “Mythology”?). The complete R-VI curriculum is available on the internet at http://warrensburg.k12.mo.us. Test results are available at http://www.dese.state.mo.us/planning/profile/051159.html.
While I expect that the school board is proud that our local schools have such advanced capabilities, we taxpayers should be less than sympathetic. We’re paying for advanced capabilities, whether through local, state or federal taxes, while basic education goes begging. Our school board incumbents who are running for reelection should be prepared answer the question “how could this money have been used for REAL education.”
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