Liberty is not “ghetto”

Jeremy Stroming

We’ve all heard it. Pretty much all of us have said it. Skyline and Issaquah receive all the district attention, while Liberty gets overlooked. Of course, the actual discussion is usually a little more cynical and vulgar. This leads to the assumption that with better (or newer) resources comes a better academic environment. Really though, it’s the people and not the building that make a school what it is.

While I think it is important we look out for our school, students need to take a step back and see the broader picture. If one actually examines the data, Liberty is on par academically with the rest of the district, and economically, our community is actually quite privileged. It’s time to stop complaining and be thankful for what we actually have.

Let’s start inside our district. As a school, Liberty has had a 93.6% pass rate on the Reading EOC, 95.7% on the writing section, a 94.2% pass rate on both the Algebra 1 and Geometry tests, and 93.7% in Biology. Of course, passing standard is easy (or should be) for almost all students. However, Issaquah High School did slightly outperform us, garnering scores of 93.9% in reading, 97.3% in writing, 96.75% in math and 93.3% in Biology. If we choose to be nitpicky, we see Liberty actually performed slightly better in Biology. Skyline is generally on the same EOC level.

If we look at more rigorous academics, we see a slightly larger gap though. Liberty had a mean SAT score of 1653 in 2013. Issaquah averaged 1765, and Skyline averaged 1739. Recognizing this problem, administration has utilized the 8 period block schedule and introduced a new SAT Prep course to bring more balance. We’ll soon see a pickup in that area.

Perhaps fancy facilities are not critical for academic success. Clearly, the education we are receiving is in no way inferior to the one up on the plateau. 48.8% of Liberty teachers have at least a Master’s Degree. In other words, they’ve gone above the minimum to provide a better learning experience.

Any discrepancies could be related to household income of the student body. Sure, Issaquah and Skyline both have very wealthy support communities, but Liberty is not that far behind. When compared to the state average, Liberty is in a very good position.

The data shows that Liberty is on par with its district and state peers. It’s time the student body recognized this. Liberty can still assume the role of underdog, but this should not stem from self-doubt. Let other schools doubt us; we know we’re doing just fine.