If this is true all hell should break loose

Over the past four years I’ve read three things about our schools that were shocking.

The third most shocking thing was the jaw dropping cost of the Red Plan at $293 million which including interest will be almost a half a billion dollars.

The second most shocking thing I read just before the cost of the Red Plan was announced was that the School Board could implement the plan without a vote. I was so shocked I made a call to my old buddy Tim Grover to ask him how the District could justify this. Tim’s response…….sort of ……Well the lawyers say we can.

The most shocking thing I’ve ever read about our district was stuck in as a little sidelight in today’s story about the unhappy parents of the District’s Native American students. The story says that they have a dismal 20 percent graduation rate which sure seems low by previous estimates to me. But this isn’t the shocking fact I was referring to.

The story mentions that we have about 450 native students which considering that godawful rate of graduation rate has a significant gravitational pull on the whole grad rate. But this isn’t the shocking fact I was referring to.

The story mentions that our student enrollment is about 8,500 students which, I suspect, is far below any projections of enrollment for our District that any credible source has ever anticipated. But even this isn’t the shocking fact I was referring to.

I can’t even believe the shocking fact. Its so shocking that I suspect it is a misprint. It is this – and someone should do a fact check immediately. According to the story Duluth has a graduation rate of 65 percent! That’s down near the rate for the state of Mississippi. That is unbelievable.

The story reports:

The district has 8,651 students, and 453 of them are American Indian. The 2008 graduation rate for American Indian students was 20.8 percent, compared to an overall graduating rate of 65.8 percent.

I know of no good explanation for this other than the possibility that Jana Hollingsworth, the story’s reporter, inadvertantly cut 20 % of the actual District graduation rate which is listed as 85% on the District’s web page for good news.

From “Katie’s Page… “We are proud”:

“Graduation Rate for Central, Denfeld, and East 93.05% (including alternative sites 85.44%”

Frankly a graduation rate of 85.44% is nothing to write home about. A decade ago the state of Minnesota boasted a 90% graduation rate. Educators like economists fiddle with definitions all the time so its hard to know what compares with what in previous statistics.

A rate of 85 percent could be grounds for firing the Superintendent. A rate of 65 percent, should it prove to be true, is grounds for riding him out in tar and feathers on one of the I beams from one of his many new temples of education.