The last post will be improved upon by the next. Even before I took a week away from the trauma of life on the Duluth School Board I was smothered by a very long to-do list. Its longer now. I took my computer in to be improved upon yesterday. I have had two or three different virus fighting software warring against each other (so its been theorized) resulting in very pokey performance. I have so much to do now I hate the waiting time for things to upload. So, I’ll be without my computer for another couple days. When its back I will have a new back up capability which will relieve some of my anxiety about losing my stored data in a crash. The laptop is four years old and hard drives give out in four or five years…….or so the salesmen have told me.

So, that last post was put together badly on my cell phone. I’m doing this with my wife’s computer which only has the drawback of not holding the oodles of files that I can draw from for posts like this.

Since Art Johnston’s travails began last June at the hands of two successive vindictive School Board chairs and an overzealous school administrator I’ve relied upon the good sense of the majority to put an end to this pogrom. So much for good sense. My back up was next November’s election. That’s a ways away and I’ll need time too make the case that we need a new majority on this board. That case is being made for me by every story that shows up in the Tribune. The one today is just the worst of a recent string of hideous stories. I failed to link to it in the last post and only managed to copy the introduction. Here’s the link to the story of how ISD 709’s graduation rate took a hideous plunge last year. I’ll confess that the more I think about this the angrier I get. Damn me for being an I told you so (that’s a really unpleasant characteristic) but this is just the sort of thing I warned might happen when we were plied with Dr. Dixon’s happy talk about the wonderful things that would happen if we went ahead and
“saved” so much money by building the Red Plan under his direction.

I think the editors who write the headlines are pretty fed up with us and who can blame them. We don’t even catch much sympathy in the good stories like today’s mention that we will save a couple hundred thousand dollars a year on renegotiating our initial Red Plan bonding. The story’s title has “Red Plan” in it with no mention of good news.

It gets worse. I mentioned that a reporter called me in yesterday’s post. Susan Du writes for City Pages and she called me out of the blue (after finding my blog) thinking I would bad mouth Senator Wigor for his legislation requiring districts to have policies about social promotion. I joked with her about it (although my joking is not so obvious in the quotes she pulls from me) and the desire of so many legislators to play school board. I asked her to send me a link to the story when it was published and here it is. Nice reading for the folks in the Twin Cities. Sorry, I know its a downer, but I refuse to live in self denial when I talk to the press. It would have been even worse if Ms. Du had read about our lousy grad rates and not just the remedial education our graduates face in college.

Of course, we members of the Duluth School Board have no time for such trifling matters. We have a blood feud to conduct.

I took lots of notes about our meeting last night. It started out pretty well but when Art Johnston made his predictible routine remarks about WADMs (enrollment declines) Mike Miernicki and Chair Seliga-Punyko couldn’t help but ignore the advice I always give grade school kids about ignoring kids on the playground who annoy them. -IGNORE THEM PLEASE!. This resulted in a nasty non-productive, fifteen minute, hissy fit in which Chair Seliga-Punyko lost all touch with Parliamentary procedure.

Ironically, Art’s never answered WADM questions actually led to a productive conversation after a ten minute war over points of order when our two student representatives on the board asked some good questions about where 187 students lost since the beginning of the school year might have gone to. Tommy Olafson (Denfeld) asked whether we do exit interviews with departing students and Jude Goosens (East High) asked about the impact of alternative schools. I followed up by asking about dropouts.

As if the student representative’s hadn’t already proven themselves adept at getting past our adult imaturities Rosie Loeffler-Kemp proceeded to give them a short lecture about her conviction that our role as Board members was to be positive salesmen for the good things happening in our district.

I titled this post patience. It was supposed to lead to my thoughts about preparing for the school board elections. But I see, however, as I review what I’ve written here, that it really applies to that characteristic that will help me endure the next eight or nine months of being on this school board. I hope that was not too uncivil a thing for me to say.

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