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Our Kids Deserve Better

EGR Schools of Choice at New Highs

Schools of Choice Openings at New Highs

  • This year East opened 34 slots for Schools of Choice, the highest level in years. The district needs to do this to maintain enrollment levels
  • We aren’t able to keep our schools filled with our own residents

EGR Residents Seeking Other Choices on the Rise

  • The chart above shows the number of EGR residents attending other public schools is at a new high, 50% higher than what it was only four years ago
  • One might blame Charter Schools for the lion’s share of this, but a closer look at the data (see below) shows Charter School students represents only a small portion of residents choosing other public school options

 Implications

  • If we can’t attract and keep our own residents, we will need to continue to increase Schools of Choice openings
  • Right now, apparently about 10% of EGRPS enrollment is Schools of Choice students. What will our district look like when that level reaches 20%?
  • Residents choosing to switch to other public schools and private schools will likely eventually leave the district to pay lower taxes and be able to buy more house for less money
  • If EGRPS becomes perceived as simply an average alternative among many other good choices, property values will go down due to less demand
  • Board President Brian Ellis says, “If people want to send their children to our schools, they should buy a home [in East].” If trends continue, they won’t need to.

We need to pay attention

People are voting with their feet. They’re increasingly choosing to go elsewhere.

In this post, we are not making a judgment about Schools of Choice or Charter Schools. What we are saying is that there are strong market indicators that show us the trajectory of EGRPS. Unfortunately, by the time these signals make themselves apparent, consumer (i.e., parent) perceptions have already been established; in other words there is momentum, and it will take time to reserve perceptions. Market perceptions are big ships that turn slowly.

Let’s face it; whether we like it or not, education is market-driven—and there are plenty of other good choices out there.

Despite all the touting of a “tradition of excellence,” the data show fewer people are believe that.

It’s time to stop talking about “excellence.” It’s time to start delivering it.

8 Comments

  1. While I am interested in these issues, I cannot support a forum where people are unwilling to share their identity. Who are you? What is your motivation and what are your proposed solutions? Before I go any farther, I would need to know that.

    • Thanks for stopping by; and thanks for leaving a comment.

      The purpose of the blog is to raise awareness of what’s happening in our district concerning special education and academic performance compared to other districts and the State as a whole. All of the data on the blog comes from publicly available, verifiable sources, mainly from the various reports and websites run by the State of Michigan. Our sole motivation is to improve the District for the benefit of the kids, the parents, and the teachers in the District.

      Our primary focus right now is raising awareness of the issues. There’s a tendency in East to say everything’s great, and we don’t have any problems. Lots of parents seem to believe that. So, before we talk about solutions, people need to become aware there is a problem that requires a solution. The solutions will ultimately come from, and need to come from, a variety of stakeholders.

      No school board candidate is involved with this blog; and while we will provide reviews of the candidates with respect to the issues on this blog, we have no personal connection to any of them.

      The content on the blog comes from a group of concerned parents, most of whom have at least one child with special needs. These parents often fight weekly battles with various administration and special ed staff members to deliver the services specified in their children’s Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). They also experience significant annual challenges to retaining their child’s eligibility for special education services. Several parents have had to retain attorneys and other advocates to fight for their child’s special education eligibility and to ensure their child receives services specified in IEPs. Other parents fight losing battles over eligibility, while their children struggle with impairments that would be easily and appropriately recognized by any other district.

      These parents want this blog to be about the issues, not the people raising the issues; it’s all too easy to target the messenger or make incorrect assumptions based on who the messengers are, instead of focusing on the issues and the data that support the issues.

      These parents love their kids. Their plight is real, heartbreaking, and expensive. However, given the hostility they already experience from members of the administration and special ed staff, they are genuinely fearful of retribution, both against themselves and, most importantly, against their kids. They have exhausted the normal channels of advocacy. They have met with staff, the administration, and members of the board, often over the course of years. They are told time and time again that nothing is wrong. This blog is one of the only ways these parents can safely give voice to their concerns without putting their child’s best interests at risk.

      We hope you can understand.

      Again, thanks for stopping by and caring enough to leave a comment.

  2. I can say that I am interested in this debate as well – as a parent of 2 current and one day 4, children in the EGR district I see the challenges classroom teachers (who I, as a former high school teacher, find UNIFORMLY excellent) face in getting support to address the challenges faced by some of the students under their care. This impacts even general ed parents – I have “regular” kids – because we have had to pay thousands of dollars for outside support to help our kids realize their potential.

    I think there is a lot of denial about the state of the education system in EGR – we are struggling under the same conditions that our entire nation’s schools do (declining funding and rising needs) and while EGR may be doing BETTER than average for our state, our demographics and property taxes don’t exempt us from the overall trend. We need to be creative in addressing the challenges and realize that given the economic and demographic strengths of our district, we could do better – and draw on the best thinking from many different schools of thought to address the issues.

    The issue that bothers me the most is what I see as the obfuscation of the issues by the administration. To continue to claim excellence when over half of our seniors are not college ready and 1/3 are not competent in math is just not realistic. This is a CRISIS. We have high maternal college achievement – the single biggest demographic contributor to academic success – and our kids are still struggling. My question is – why don’t we highlight this data rather than burying it and ASK THE PARENTS TO HELP.

    What that means is, and this is off the top of my head – 1) LIMIT MEDIA CONSUMPTION by kids, and by that I mean what would be the harm in asking our K-8 parents to agree on a waldorf-style no media (TV, Video games and computers for anything other than homework) contract from m-f? It’s free and it works. 2) Suggest to parents that the homework that comes home is the BARE MINIMUM and they need to encourage the kids to do more if they are able; and 3) suggest to parents that outside activities be limited by age/ability so that the kids are getting to bed on time. Really. Some of this stuff seems self-evident but I am shocked at how little of best practices I see. Our kids are coming to school tired, addicted to media and used to doing only the bare minimum that is asked. Are we surprised the scores are low?

    And as for the writers of the Blog – I know some of these families, many who don’t have kids in our schools anymore because they are going elsewhere. I firmly believe they are doing this out of a deep love for this community (many are 2nd and 3rd generation residents), a desire to see all kids succeed, and a real belief that this district has the ABILITY to be excellent once again but that just cutting essential services to make budgets is not a long term strategy that works. I think an open and honest debate about the state of our schools and what the parents, teachers and administrators need to succeed is a great place to start.

  3. “•Right now, apparently about 10% of EGRPS enrollment is Schools of Choice students. What will our district look like when that level reaches 20%?”

    As a parent of 2 School of Choice graduates – I find the language included in this blog offensive. I have a son that graduated from EGR with a 4.0 GPA in 2007 (32 ACT); he then was the only graduate of Trine University’s class of 2011 to graduate with a 4.0 GPA and is currently 1 of 4 students nationally studying as a Via Scholar at Virginia Tech’s Graduate School for Civil Engineering. My other son – also a School of Choice graduate – graduated from EGR in 2012 with a 4.0 gpa (32 ACT) and is currently on a full engineering scholarship at Trine University.

    Maybe School of Choice students are RAISING the GPA and ACT performance – not being detrimental to it. Both of my sons have been critical of EGR kids being “spoiled” and having a “sense of entitlement”. I know how hard both of my sons worked to achieve their academic success – and from what I could see – their friends all living in EGR lacked the same drive and willingness to sacrifice. Sometimes one needs to look within and not do the easy thing and blame what appears to be the obvious.

    • Thanks for commenting!

      This post is not a judgment against schools of choice or schools-of-choice students; and what you express in your second paragraph may be true.

      The purpose of the post was solely to show there are less EGR residents filling the District’s schools. And what happens if that trend continues or accelerates over time? Do we reach a point in time where the residents of the district feel far less inclined to support the district because a significant percentage of resident students are going elsewhere? Less local support for the district helps no one. Not residents. Not schools-of-choice students. It’s bad for everyone.

      Again, thanks for taking the time to join the discussion.

  4. Why are there no reports available on school of choice test scores and academic performance vs. residents.
    Clearly, many families who are SOC have done a tremendous job at EGR. Perception is that most are causing discipline problems and are academic problems.
    I would presume EGRPS has these numbers & test scores at their fingertips—in fact I would be shocked if they did not. Why is this information never made public?
    Taxpayers should be made aware of this info if nonresidents are going to continue to be brought into our district.

    • I think Schools-of-Choice parents are simply looking for better opportunities for their kids. For whatever reason, they were unhappy with the district they live in and could not move to another district before their kids needed to make a switch. I think they should be welcomed and treated as no different than resident students. In fact, I think we’re fortunate to have them. There needs to be a critical mass in order to preserve the current structure and offerings of the district. If we were suddenly to have 300 less students, that would dramatically change a lot of things. These students also provide needed revenue…more than $2 million per year. Rather than target SOC kids and their parents, I think the responsibility is on the district to improve things for all students so that people want to move to EGR for the schools, so that our schools are filled beyond capacity with residents. Wouldn’t that be a good problem to have? If you build something people want, there will be no shortage of demand, and they will move to the district to get it. The increasing SOC numbers and the increasing number of resident students attending elsewhere are early market indicators that there is a problem…and the problem has nothing to do with Schools-of-Choice parents and kids.

  5. In regards to anonymity- Parents of special needs kids know they walk a fine line with fighting administration for their kid’s rights, acting as an advocate and showing a sense of cooperation so as not to labeled as “oh… her/him again, the pain in the…” because at the end of the day our kids are in their hands for 6 hours m- f

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