Education

12:05 PM

Recently, I've encountered an issue with courses; I'm part-time enrolled in the Washington Virtual Academy, which offers online courses, and I also take two electives at Redmond Junior High. However, recently, the school districts informed me that, because I was over the allotted "FTE," or full-time equivalency, that I would not be allowed to take one of my courses. This is the letter I wrote to Chip Kimball, superintendent at Lake Washington School District:

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Dear Mr. Kimball,

My name’s Adora Svitak. I am twelve years old, and I’m currently dually enrolled in the Washington Virtual Academy, an online public school, and Redmond Junior High in Lake Washington School District. I’m writing to you today because of an issue I’ve encountered in my dual enrollment. I am taking Creative Cooking and Drama at Redmond Junior High School in addition to my online courses, and the two electives are a wonderful addition. I enjoy both very much. As a student taking Honors social studies and language arts classes, the published author of two books, and a speaker, literacy advocate, and presenter (I teach students every day via video conferencing about reading and writing, and I will be receiving the National Education Association, or NEA, award for service to public education), I think it can be agreed that I am capable of taking the two elective courses.

However, Redmond Junior High and the Lake Washington School District have informed me that I will not be allowed to take both Cooking and Drama, and that I will have to drop one (as I am already taking French at my online school). I’m assuming that the course limits rule was set up because regular students attending a brick-and-mortar school every day would not be able to attend more than six courses. But because of my dual enrollment, it is possible for me to take more courses than are usually allowed.  Rules, especially those in education, should be set up to benefit the student and help us reach our full potential. In this case, the rules are a limiting force, preventing me from learning to the extent of my ability.

My mom, Joyce Svitak, placed a call to your office, where she was told that it wasn’t about the courses, it was about the money. I understand that in these times, school districts have to watch their budgets. However, both of the classes that I am in had room; the teachers are getting paid the same salary nevertheless; I’m actually paying a lab fee for Creative Cooking. They are still printing out the same number of rubrics and assignments. One student really doesn’t make a difference budget-wise.

I am okay with not receiving credits or FTE for taking the extra elective course at Redmond Junior High. But I would ask that Lake Washington School District provide me the opportunity to take it.

Thank you,
Adora Svitak

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To me, this is just one example of what's wrong in education. In a time when we are facing dropout rates and such an epidemic of kids not wanting to learn, they hyperventilate about one student who loves to learn, taking one extra class, and treat it as an "urgent issue." You can pin it down to money, but the teacher's salary isn't dictated by how many students there are in a class. The heating costs don't go up for one more student. The fact that they trouble themselves over tiny issues like this is simply evidence of bureaucracy--and how adult-centric an institution designed to benefit students really is.

-Adora

P.S.Woohoo! Today, Washington Virtual Academy, my online public school, made a compromise, allowing me to continue taking my electives.

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11 comments

  1. A wonderfully well-written letter. I hope that the school district sees your logic in this matter and lets you stay in all your courses.

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  2. A perfect example of the problems with our education system indeed.

    Keep us posted on what happens!

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  3. Well done, Adora. It is important that we question senseless and counter-productive rules. Keep us posted about your progress.

    Regards from Ireland!

    Stephen McManus

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  4. That's just crazy! You're right, it's a very sad day when the education system decides it needs to restrict a student's learning. Best of luck to you and make sure to update us on the outcome!

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  5. This is something I've encountered at my school as well -- I wanted to take an extra class this year before school, during "zero-period," but I was told that I would not be able to take the class unless I dropped out of one of my other subjects. Sometimes the budget concerns are understandable, but they are frustrating nonetheless.

    Hope you get to take both classes at RJH!

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  6. Hi Adora,
    I acknowledge you for speaking up and standing for your greatness !!
    Keep it up !
    Geert
    @ccoaching_be

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  7. Great win for you that you can continue to attend both classes! You did the right action and as a result you won.

    rgds, Michael

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  8. Anonymous1:24 PM

    Great.

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  9. Anonymous10:07 PM

    consider the extra time a period for you to work harder on your personal projects and whims.

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  10. Anonymous12:20 PM

    Very nice letter, Adora!

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  11. Anonymous11:22 PM

    I believe I am the only one who probably thinks this but-you seem like you have a big head. Yes, I think you deserve to take those classes but you put yourself above other students as a reason why. It almost seems like you view yourself as being superior to other students and that is why you should take this, but as a teacher, how can you think like this?
    To ignore the budget crisis is to be idealistic, which is a good things as it brings out new ideas but at the same time ignoring reality inhibits improvement. For your class taking situation, perhaps budget does have a little to do with it. As a 12 year old who advocates for adults to think with an open mind, perhaps you should do the same.

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