Hope Loren’s wrong

Loren Martell has taken over from me as the Red Plan’s Cassandra.

This is his letter to the editor today:

Published September 13 2010
Reader’s view: Red Plan the cause of student exodus

The Aug. 31 article regarding a mass exodus of students from the Duluth public school system failed to mention open enrollment (“Enrollment up at Duluth’s charter, private schools”).

Hermantown, overwhelmed, just announced the closure of six classes to open enrollment.

According to the Minnesota Department of Education, for the 2009-10 school year and the two years prior, Duluth lost 1,204 students and gained 199. That’s a net loss of 1,005 students, not counting students lost for the current year or the number lost to charter and private schools or who are being home-schooled over the period. Add it all together and you finally get the picture some of us have been trying to warn this city about for some time.

The Aug. 31 front-page story was long overdue.

An independent poll of families that pulled out their kids would show the majority are getting out because of the Red Plan. Every study shows that big schools with big classes and fewer teachers produce a worse educational outcome, no matter how fancy the buildings.

We’re losing some of the best people from our system. People who care and who have the means to get out are getting out.

This fixation on building has come at a cost beyond the obscene price tag. The operating budget is in horrible shape. Money is lost with every lost kid. The results of the last levy referendum showed that people were mad about the Red Plan. The cabal running the district decided against putting another levy on the upcoming ballot. It had to know people would spurn it.

Meanwhile, the kids suffer. The superintendent is on record admitting to at least two years of chaos before stability. Stability? I predict it will take a generation to sort through this massive mess. By then, Superintendent Keith Dixon and his corporate cronies will be long gone.

Loren Martell

Duluth