Please pardon the personal indulgence here, but Eduf’lack can’t help himself. About a year ago, I made a general pledge not to write about my work on my local school board on these electronic pages. It just didn’t seem fair to the teachers, administrators, educators, and parents in my local community on a daily basis to dissect and analyze our issues for all my readers to read. So school board has been a relative topic non grata (with a few exceptions) over the last year.
Today is one of those exceptions. Over the weekend, The Washington Post released its latest edition of the High School Challenge Index. Based on the Index, Virginia’s Falls Church City Public Schools was ranked the top public school district in the greater Washington, DC area. Our George Mason High School has named the fifth best high school in the region. And GM also took home the honor of being the 70th best high school in the United States.
The rankings are a reflection of the enormous investment Falls Church has placed in both International Baccalaureate (IB ) and Advanced Placement (AP). And the results are showing themselves in other ways. Earlier this academic year, the Commonwealth of Virginia honored GM for having one of the highest high school graduation rates in the state — 97 percent. And our average SAT scores were 1795, nearly 300 points higher than both the Virginia (1521) and national (1509) averages.
And we do it all as our sports teams won six state titles during the last school year, our teachers receive national and international recognition, and our students demonstrate the highest levels of excellence in everything from robotics to the theater.
All this doesn’t happen by accident. We reap the value of IB in our high schools because we invest in the IB program in our elementary and middle schools. We promise a world-class education for all students, and back that up by committing to pre-school programs that target our ESOL populations to begin equipping them with the skills they will need to succeed in elementary school and beyond. And we continue to support a school district that is both student- and educator-centric, where parents and our employees have the opportunity to participate in the decisionmaking process and help shape our budget and our policies.
This past budget cycle, we were faced with many of same issues most school districts are facing these days. How do we effectively invest in e-learning and other instructional opportunities for all our students? How do we fairly compensate all our educators, particularly after recent years of frozen salaries? How do we address our physical plant, particularly our needs to expand our school buildings in the face of growing student populations? And how do we do it all in a way that is respectful to both our educational mission and the local taxpayers who need to fund it?
Somehow, we’ve done it. Public-private partnerships to fund e-learning. Step increase for our teachers. Groundbreaking next month for expansion on one of our elementary schools. And all done without asking taxpayers for a dime more than we asked for last budget year.
The DC area has some terrific schools, particularly in Northern Virginia. Falls Church’s rankings in the annual Challenge Index are a testament to the terrific job our educators, our parents, our students, and our community does, day in and day out. Education is priority number one (or at least 1-A) in Falls Church. The true reward is virtually all of our students graduate from high school, and they graduate with a top-notch public education, an education that prepares them for college, the military, or work. Kudos from Jay Mathews and WaPo are just the icing on the cake.
Congratulations to the entire Falls Church City Public Schools team! You do a terrific job, and it shows in both the data points and the students themselves. We have much to be proud of in Falls Church. I, for one, am honored to serve as an elected official in a community that recognizes the importance of a strong K-12 education system, that invests in its schools and its kids, and that regularly demonstrates true return on investment.
Go Mustangs! Go Huskies! Go Tigers! Go Hippos! Eduflack is proud to be part of the FCCPS family, today and every day.