K-12 students are not scholars
Keeping the Faith - Faith Elder
In spring 2016, the Federal Way School District started re- ferring to students in the dis- trict as scholars. The change was made to encourage stu- dents to continue their studies into higher education and show the district's belief in students' potential.
However, referring to K-12 students as scholars is an inac- curate use of the word. Scholar is defined by the Oxford dictio- nary as "a specialist in a partic- ular branch of study, especially the humanities." Addressing students in the Federal Way School District as scholars im- plies that they are somehow learned experts, an expectation which is unrealistic at best.
While this change is well in- tentioned, it does little but con- tinue the district's push to send all students to university.
In its mission statement, Federal Way lists increasing the number of graduating students entering university as a main goal - "an advancement of a col- lege-going culture." The district has been attempting to reach these goals by encouraging stu- dents to focus on STEM fields of study, many of which require four-year degrees.
While the goal of preparing students for higher education is admirable, not all students should go to a four-year university.
With a variety of internships, technical colleges, and career programs available, the district could be supporting students' transitions to any and all high- er-level organizations. Rather than expecting all students to go into scholarly education and professions, respect their deci- sions to study different subjects in different ways.
Students also shouldn't feel the pressure to go into higher education immediately after n- ishing high school. The higher
education system is forgiving, giving students the opportuni- ty to join when they are ready, which not all 18- year olds are.
This word change also does little to support students. Even when called scholars, kids con- tinue to struggle in classes and their parents still wonder how to help them.
But after two years, the term scholar remains, even though it has not made any difference to students or families. Comparing the annual reports for 2016-17 and 2017-2018 school years shows no signi cant difference in graduation rates, student test scores, or students on track to graduate.
If the term does nothing but pressure students in the Federal Way School District, maybe it is time to start calling things what they are.
Faith is a refugee from the Federal Way School District.