Parents, Alumni Respond to Eastern HS Rating

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Lansing, Mich. (WILX) For the fourth year in a row, Lansing's Eastern High School is on the Michigan Department of Education's "priority list" -- performing in the bottom five percent of schools statewide.

For some parents, it's a reason to be frustrated.

"I think the district caused that problem. I don't think it's the students, I don't think it's the teachers," said Tammy Wilson, a mother of four, two of whom currently attend EHS. "They always seem to pick out the poorer schools [to help]. They've never targeted the south side, they've never targeted Sexton or Everett or any of those schools. They just keep targeting the north side."

But for others, like Richard Monti, the frustration in the rating stems from what he says is an unfair representation.

"The report cards that they're getting from the state don't reflect what's truly going on here at Eastern High School," said the father of two. "One of the issues that I think doesn't get taken into account is that there are quite a few kids that go to Eastern High School, that English isn't their native language."

The result, he says, is a lower average test score for the school.

Eastern hasn't met "Adequate Yearly Progress" in 11 years. It's been listed as a priority school the last four years after the state switched systems.

The color-coded system assesses schools based on how they meet goals and show improvement. The percentage of possible points attained is equivalent to a color level. Green is the highest, red is the lowest and lime, yellow and orange fall in between.

Eastern has long been the center of criticism, with the district pondering what to do with a declining enrollment and in some cases, poor test scores.

Options on the table have included transforming Eastern into a health- and science-centered campus or closing the school at some points.

"The most important thing is the young people that go to school and so that has to be the focus," said Lance Lynch, a 1959 Eastern alumnus.

Four generations of the Lynch family have graduated as Quakers. Lance's parents, wife, children and many of his grandchildren also attended.

He admits he would be sad to see the building go, but says he wouldn't stand in the way if the district went that direction.

"Sure I would have certain feelings about it, but I wouldn't be one of those that picketed against it or anything of that nature," he said. "My ulterior motive would be to take care of the young people and give them a good education in the inner city schools."

Short-term changes are coming at Eastern. The school day will be longer and students who need it will get extra math and English courses, according to Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul. A governance board will oversee the school.

Sexton and Everett High Schools made improvements this year and were not listed as priority schools. They remain under close watch though, because once named a priority school, they are identified as such for four years.

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