In the next week, our communities in the Northshore School District will be casting votes to elect School Board directors who will guide and lead the district for the next four years.
So, let us consider what a four-year interval can mean in the life of our students and children. If your child is an eighth-grader, four years will mean he or she will be out of the public school system. At that time, many of these students will be going forward with plans to directly enter the work force or receiving an additional formal education. If your child is in kindergarten, in four years he or she will be a fourth-grader. Incidentally, studies show that students who fall significantly behind their peers academically by the fourth grade, who do not receive intensive remedial education, will continue to fall behind their peers. Even more alarming, studies also show that students who enter middle school, and who are significantly behind academically, are highly unlikely to catch up to their peers. In other words, four years in the life of a child or student can be a huge impact on the rest of their lives.
Therefore, it is imperative that we take the time and effort to consider and vote for the most capable and effective candidates. In making this decision, we need to consider whether the incumbents have fulfilled their commitments to the community in the past eight years. Have we seen a decrease in class sizes? Is our district financially secure for the short and long terms? Are our children safer — in class, school and while being bussed, for example? Do our students have the necessary instructional materials for a basic, quality education? Is there enough staff to support our schools and teachers and to provide for medical monitoring and treatment? Have the needs of high-achieving and remedial students been met? Have academic, alternative learning, athletic and extracurricular programs been strengthened? Do we know why and how the board prioritized its major decisions?
Equally important to reflecting on the board’s past actions is the need for considering what we will need from a School Board in the future. What actions and directions will the board take on the above issues in the next three to five years? How will these decisions impact the district for the next 10 to 20 years? What legacy will the School Board be leaving for our children and grandchildren?
Only we as individuals are able to define and decide the relevance of these and other issues in the lives of our children and the communities we wish to live in and support. This is why we need to be informed and vote. If you do not vote, you are allowing someone else to determine your child’s education and future.
Allison Russell, Bothell