Letter: Sniffing around for truth
Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. My puppy is trying to figure things out. His tail is wagging. He is happy. More sniffing. Where are the complete stats for the 2009-2010 school year? Why are they not on the state link? Where are they? Sniff. Sniff. Sniff. Puppy falls to the floor. His eyes are sad. As he licks my face he says the spots on his back are frustrated. Puppy would like to be informed. Alas, Puppy can’t find the complete stats. Evidently they haven’t been released yet. Wonder why? I cradle Puppy’s head in both hands. I tell him he did the best he could, and everything will be all right. Puppy curls up beside me on the couch and falls asleep.
It is that time again when residents of Mathews are concerned about the school budget since the school budget affects county taxes. Then, of course, residents are still upset about the new property tax assessments also. The assessments were too high, and badly mishandled.
Some things about Mathews County’s schools are on the state website. Let’s take a look at just a few. Middlesex had 534 students enrolled in grades 8-12 with 40 instructional positions. Mathews had 527 students enrolled in grades 8-12 with 59 instructional positions. Wow. Think about it. Mathews County is smaller than Middlesex County in size and population. Plus, among the districts studied which included the Northern Neck schools, Essex, King & Queen, and West Point, Mathews had the second highest number of secondary instructional positions as compared to the school with the highest number of secondary instructional positions which had 200 more students. This picture looks fuzzy.
Mathews schools compared from year to year speaks the loudest. Since 2002 Mathews County school enrollment has declined. Yet between the years of 2002 and 2009 Mathews schools have grown 20 percent more administrators, 20 percent more teachers, and a whopping 60 percent more teacher assistants. How does that happen, and why?
Then there is the shocking news that in every category Middlesex High School SOL test scores were higher than Mathews High School SOL test scores. What is that all about? Our instructional positions number greater than Middlesex. Second thought, spending more money on Mathews schools will not produce smarter students. If that were the solution then the students in the District of Columbia schools would be some of the highest-scoring students. No. Student performance predicts student performance. The answer isn’t money. The answer is more difficult to find. It is something else that may be hard for Puppy to find. Common sense?
Cobbs Creek, Va.