The following is an op-ed by columnist Elizabeth Porter for her column, “The Final Word.” All of the opinions and viewpoints expressed within the article are solely that of the author and may not reflect the beliefs of The Forest Scout newspaper.
If you’re sick of reading articles like this, I understand. I’m getting sick of writing them.
But, I know I’m not alone in wanting the Final Four to stop attacking our school.
I shouldn’t have to make this request because it shouldn’t be happening. A school board race shouldn’t be a nasty, politically-charged, divisive, election. Competition is fine, it is to be expected. But what they’re doing is something else entirely. They’re fear-mongering. They make alarmist claims that have little to no basis in reality in order to engender outrage and radical change. They’re not doing it because it is right or true; they’re doing it because they believe it is the only way they will get elected.
All I ask is people of the community, look around. Do you see a school in decline? Do you see teachers that aren’t as good as they were a few years ago? Do you see students who are less intelligent, less confident, and less prepared for college when they walk out these doors? No, I don’t think you do. Don’t fall for fear-mongering. LFHS is and will be for many years to come, a wonderful, prestigious, school.
We can see through them. They send unsolicited emails filled with manipulated facts to my parents and the parents of my classmates. They were not vetted and backed by the caucus. They are funded by large, anonymous donations. School board candidates aren’t meant to run as a slate. There is only one reason I can think of as to why they would be doing that: in order to gain a majority, take over, and push their agenda. Well, that scares me, and rightfully so. They will stop at nothing to gain power over our school.
After so many weeks of this, there is only one logical conclusion: they are not going to stop. There could be a 100 articles explaining the inaccuracies of their analysis and the offensiveness of their claims and they still would not stop. There is only one way to ensure we won’t have to listen to this for the next four years.
Today, April 4th, the election will be over and the voice of the people of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff will be heard.
Unfortunately, I am 17 years old. I cannot vote. I pay attention and I read statistics and I form opinions, but those opinions cannot translate into anything besides words. I sincerely ask the clear-minded people of this community to vote today on my behalf. Vote on the behalf of the class of 2018 and every class to follow, because we are too young to vote for ourselves. We need you–this community needs you–to care and to make your voice heard. Vote for the future of LFHS and vote to maintain the accomplishments that so many have worked hard to achieve. Vote in agreement that LFHS is a great school and vote to keep it that way.
It is hard to keep up with the many claims of the Final Four, but according to one of their newest accusations, we have had a dramatic decline in National Merit Semifinalists since 2011.
There are two glaring problems with this.
First, this change could easily be attributed to a small numbers problem. In order to become a semifinalist for the NMS you have to score extremely well on the PSAT. In fact, you have to be in about 99th percentile for your state.
In a class of about 400 students, 1.5% is six students. 3% is twelve students. A decline from three percent to one and a half percent is a significant 50% decline. That is also a decline from 12 to six students. Having six fewer students score in the 99th percentile on one standardized test is well within the reasonable expectation of fluctuation from year to year.
If that was all that is going on here, it would be nothing more than exaggerating the importance of an irrelevant data point. But that is not all that is going on. They have carefully chosen the years to include in their data in order to paint a picture of a high school in decline.
Not surprisingly, you can also pick the years to show a dramatic increase in National Merit Semifinalists. The 2011-2012 Lake Forest High School Profile reports 5 National Merit Semifinalists and a senior class of 453: a percentage of 1.1%. In the 2014-2015 profile, the school profile report 8 NM Semifinalists and 375 seniors which is 2.1%. That amounts to nearly a 100% increase. However, if you chose to compare 2011-2012 to 2015-2016, only one year later, there has been no change in percentage. But they conveniently picked two years with a relatively large percentage decline, but that decline only represented a handful of students.
The class of 2017 National Merit Semifinalists, Kallin Hermann, Jayne Mai, Kelly Page, Madeline Smith, Michelle Thunder, and John Zeeman have worked very hard for their distinction and deserve to be publicly recognized for their achievement. But I bet if you asked them, they would also congratulate their classmates that have shared the journey with them. The ones who have sat in the same classes, studied for the same tests, used their creativity to succeed in the same projects, and demonstrated success in the same school.
This school is not in decline. And neither are its students.
Make sure your vote today reflects the success of our school and its students. Vote for candidates who will continue to value Lake Forest High School instead of the ones who fear-monger with statistics and belittle its overall progress.