This letter has not been edited for content; emailed to the school board on August 28, 2023.
by Stuart Jenner
Hi, school board members; I have some questions about IRI.
I look forward to your responses. Maybe Bernard needs to answer these, but since you voted for this, I am hoping you know the answers. In the past, Carrie Howell has been the main person to respond to my emails, with Aaron also chiming in. I’m hoping this time I hear from Angelica ( who, after all, is the board member for my area) or Joe. Since Azeb voted no, I think she’s off the hook on needing to respond.
- How much time does IRI take at each grade level?
- When are the surveys given during the school year?
- Where are they given – are they taken home? Is there peer and teacher pressure to answer the surveys a certain way?
- Do parents get to see the questions?
- Who stores the data, and for how long?
- Are the answers personally identifiable?
- Do parents get to see the individual answers? The school’s answers? The district-wide answers?
- If students are in Running Start, where/when do they get the IRI training?
- How much is this costing, and where is the money coming from? Grants? Local levy? Start support (which bucket?)
Also, I have some questions about the survey itself. I’ve been paying attention to the non-replicability of a lot of social “science” ‘research.’ Much of it is highly speculative. So, here are a few questions prompted by the article:
1. I read the story in Burien News about the racism being institutionalized in the Highline School District. The phrase “supportive family” jumped out at me because sometimes my inner critic thinks I’m too supportive of my kids, and other times, my inner critic says I’m not supportive enough. So, if you could send me a definition of a supportive family, I would really appreciate it because I’d like to know what I am.
- If a child is wondering how their family is defined, who do they ask for clarification?
- A personal question to you: If a child has been told “no”, for example, “No, you are not old enough to have a cell phone” or “No, you did not help out around the house, so you can’t go to the mall,” do you think that child would describe their family as supportive?
- I am also wondering how Burien, Des Moines, Seatac, Normandy Park, the tiny parts of Tukwila and Kent, and the unincorporated area of north Highline are defined. Is it urban? Or not? I can think of some areas within each of these political constructs that are stereotypical urban, and others that are stereotypical suburban.
- I am also wondering if the only violence that matters is physical violence, or does verbal abuse matter, too?
- This question is prompted by the phrase “victim of physical violence based on gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation.”
- Is physical abuse limited to only these factors – gender, ethnicity, age, or sexual orientation – what if someone is attacked because of their religion, are they not going to get a minus 2?
- I think Anne Frank would certainly merit a minus 2, and gosh, maybe even a minus 3 or minus 4.
- I think refugees from many countries would say they were attacked for their faith, not their ethnicity. But also, it could be they were attacked for more than one reason.
This is what’s in the newspaper article:
“For example, white male (+3), visible or invisible disability (-1), supportive family (+3), felt unsafe walking at night (-1), English is your first language (+2), impacted by divorce (-1), grew up in an urban setting (-1), family had health insurance (+2), victim of physical violence based on gender, ethnicity, age or sexual orientation (-2). Finally, they are shown the injustice inherent in our society and prompted to act accordingly.”
My personal opinion: having to move a lot, having unstable housing, having food insecurity, and many other factors, can all lead to a lot of stress on kids. But, I am not sure stress is what the survey is trying to do.
It is really remarkable how things can change in a person’s life too.
A final question: are there any districts that have done this type of IRI work and had higher academic outcomes that they can attribute to the IRI work?