EDITORíS DESK: Signs of hope for Westside schools

       How do we teach our kids? The question has become vital for Westside schools in recent years - especially since the development of precise measuring of achievement through CSAP scores and academic performance ratings. Such tallies have the two-edged outcome of bringing cheers to schools that perform highly and long faces to those who don't. Perhaps more significantly, parents can view this information and make informed decisions on where to send their child to school.
       For the Westside, the faces have tended to be long. There is no denying that the more affluent the area, the more successful the school. The scores reflect that. And with our area having a fairly high percentage of lower-income folks... But stop right there. It doesn't have to be that way. And that's not just an empty statement. Efforts by Westsiders themselves, including Pam Staley - who is leading the creation of a new charter school - and County Commissioner-elect Sallie Clark and her husband, Welling, with District 11's Westside Task Force a year or so ago have given our area the chance of becoming an educational hotbed. Midland's International Baccalaureate program, Washington's Core Knowledge and Buena Vista's Montessori are beginning to turn into school-choice magnets - and not just within the district. What appeals to people, I think, is that these approaches to education, while different in various ways, are similar in their views that meaningful teaching strategies should render income gaps irrelevant.
       This is exciting stuff for the little ol' Westside, where not so long ago it seemed inevitable that declining enrollment would force the closure of one or more local schools. Now expansion is a distinct possibility... one which higher test scores wouldn't hurt.

- K.J.