Letter to the Editor

Patrons for Quality Education brochure paints unfair picture of NEVC

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Dear Editor:

I am a senior at Northeast Vernon County High School and have attended this fine institution all of my years of schooling. Recently, my parents received a "Vote Yes to Annexation" brochure in the mail from the Patrons for Quality Education. In the brochure, there was a short story of a run-in that one of the patrons apparently had with a retail cashier that attended Northeast Vernon County schools. This cashier supposedly could not do a simple math problem and Mr. Ron Hughes, author of this brochure, continued to endorse the blaming of the lack of mathematical skills on the education that this anonymous person received at NEVC. 1) How likely is it that someone just blurts out that they attended NEVC and that is why they can't solve an extremely easy math problem? 2) Even if this person was not capable of such a thing, don't you think that it would not be the school's fault, but the person who did not pay attention in math class? 3) In my opinion, if this person did not go on to college, that is their own fault and choice, and not anyone else's. As far as I am concerned, we have had excellent math teachers at NEVC and that paragraph about the anonymous cashier was a load of phooey.

I would like to address the fact that the middle portion of this lengthy, but most aggravating, brochure mentioned that NEVC did have dual credit classes, but were only offered by Crowder College. Why should that be of concern? I'm not sure, but we also have dual credit classes through the University of Central Missouri. These classes are taught at our school. This list did not include our dual credit classes on the more visible list, but it made sure to include all of Nevada High Schools dual credit classes. It might be fair to mention that all of NEVC's dual credit classes are free to students because the school reimburses them, which is a great opportunity for those students who would struggle paying for the classes themselves.

Another error on the Patron's brochure, NEVC's Spanish classes are not taught through Missouri's Virtual Instruction Program. They are taught by an actual teacher employed by the school who is most fluent in the language.

On another note, Ron Hughes also mentioned that some of NEVC's classes are not offered every year or semester. Want to know why? Take science courses for example, each student has four years to complete their three required science classes. Freshmen classes take physical science, sophomores take biology I, and then students have the choice whether to take anatomy and physiology, chemistry, or biology II. There are not many students in the school to begin with, so of course, there may not be anyone interested in biology II during one year, but that is probably because they are taking anatomy and physiology or chemistry. The administration does everything they can to place the students into classes that they would like to take and that goal is usually accomplished.

I would like to comment on the constant messages throughout the brochure about how many teachers Nevada has compared to NEVC. Nevada has around 800 high school students and eight math teachers. NEVC has around 100 high school students and one math teacher. Sounds pretty equal to me. Common sense: more students calls for more classes, which then calls for more teachers. So, OF COURSE, Nevada has more teachers and counselors/examiners than NEVC does, because they are many times the size of our school.

In small type towards the bottom of one of the brochure pages, it states that "Ag classes are similar in both schools." I can say with confidence that our agricultural program, including FFA, is more highly developed than Nevada's, which is what NEVC's MANY state, district, and practice contest awards in FFA prove over consecutive years. Patrons of Quality Education, since you seem to concentrate on how much more advanced Nevada schools are, answer me this: How is it that without the latest technology in our business lab, unlike Nevada, that NEVC's FBLA has out-shined Nevada's by a landslide, as proved by our highly praised placements in four consecutive years competing at FBLA national competitions. Chase Thompson qualified for the national FBLA competition in 2007, which was a huge feat for NEVC. I earned first place as a freshman at the national FBLA competition in 2008. The following year, Spencer Hoagland continued the trend with ANOTHER first place win at nationals with James Manes by her side as another national qualifier. This last summer, both Spencer and I, qualified for national competition in FBLA, and I ended up placing sixth.

I am usually not one to brag, but when it comes to proving the REAL patrons for quality education, also known as NEVC teachers, I will prove our worth. These teachers do whatever they can to see their students succeed and won't settle for anyone failing.

You wonder why NEVC students are not as accepting of this change, because before results of the election have even been decided, other students and I have already heard repetitive comments from people from Nevada such as, "If Northeast comes to our school, I'll leave," or "You Northeast athletes won't have a chance if you come to Nevada and play." It sure sounds like a very warm and welcoming party that you are trying to throw these students into. I know that these are comments from few, that this does not include everyone from the Nevada area, but it still puts fear into the ears of the children who this will be mostly affecting.

I admit that since I am graduating this spring, if this annexation goes into effect, I will not be a part of the process, however, my two younger brothers will. I do believe that I know them better than Ron Hughes or Barbara Elliot or Greg Wortman do, and I have to say that I think they have just as much opportunity here as they would at Nevada. It is a very selfish thing of the Patrons, to bombard a school district with this massive threat when you don't even have anything to do with this school. I would be more accepting of this if the actual parents or teachers felt that their school is inefficient, but to have outsiders decide the fate of our school is beyond belief. I find that the main issue for the Patrons for Quality Education has drifted askew, because I do believe that the main issue for them is money, and because that is so upsetting and somewhat morally wrong, they are now dragging NEVC's education and opportunities into the equation, when they really aren't of any concern. We most definitely don't deserve it, as is proved in the paragraphs above and by the words and statistics from many other people and sources. Please get your facts straight and stop being misleading.

I would like to notify the citizens of Vernon County, whether they are voting on the matter of the annexation of Northeast Vernon County to Nevada, or not, that there is nothing wrong with the Northeast Vernon County district, nor is there anything wrong with the Nevada district. Both are great schools. It is hard to compare schools so different in size, like Mr. Hughes tried to do. Both have their pros and cons, and who are you, Patrons for Quality Education, to judge that yourself. Have you sat in on one of our classes? How many students from NEVC have you met face to face? How many NEVC teachers are you acquainted with? Have you attended many of our sporting events or other extra-curricular sponsored activities? How about you come over next week to watch the NEVC undefeated junior high boys' basketball team, which outscore their opponents by around 20 or more points. While you're there, come support the senior class and buy something from the concession stand. Don't forget to judge my entire education by how well I count back your change.

If you really cared about the students, you would listen to what they say and want and vote NO against annexation on November 2.

Proud student of NEVC,

Taylor Ast, senior