Do I have a choice?

I linked to a blog post from a very bright analyst of the Duluth Schools last week. Karl Schuettler is an East Grad now at Grad School who has an exceptionally rational and fair-minded way of looking at things. When I wrote about his recent blog post and linked to it I gave the impression of being hit pretty hard by it. So should all of the Duluth School Board members.

I think I may have alarmed Karl a bit and he sent me an email to offer a little hope. I only finally found time to reply to it this morning. Here’s what Karl wrote me:

On Sun, May 17, 2015 at 6:58 PM, Karl Schuettler wrote:

Thanks as always for the blog plug, in spite of my nastiness. And I don’t for a moment think “mediocrity” is a permanent state–for anyone on the board, including Art. It can change if people change.

Setting aside whether or not the Board should pay Art’s legal fees (and I am frankly ambivalent about it either way), you and I both know what’s going to happen if you bring it forward for a vote. We have to deal with the political environment as it is, not as we wish it were. 

Dragging this out will also make this fall’s election into a vote on Art. I won’t pretend to know how it’ll play out, but I do think taking the high road and re-focusing on kids is way more likely to get you your majority than turning this into an election about Art. There may be a lot of sympathetic people, but there are a lot more people who are sick of it all either way.

You have a choice.

To which I finally replied:


I meant to write back to you after getting your email and link. It really is nice to get a rational analysis of events in good old ISD 709.

Don’t take my dreary commentary about it as a sign of my unhappiness with an honest outside evaluator. I was very pleased with most of it and understand the part of the analysis that I didn’t much care for. And I don’t take the mediocrity bit nearly as personally as it might have appeared. You are right. We are all to blame and that includes me and Art.

My “Buddy” wrote a very complimentary email about your blog and he was right to say good things about it. My only quibble is the stuff about Art. Oh, Art can be a downer at Board meetings but that should be put in the context of how he’s been treated for six years of which the last eleven months are only the black hole of Calcutta finale. Elected officials denied public data for years on end are liable to be a little dyspeptic and I can’t blame Art. I’ve had two years of the same treatment.

I wish I had the choice that you suggest but the penalties imposed upon Art financially and publicly with today’s crude resolution leave my conscience little choice but to redress the school board’s wrongs by revealing the truth behind this ugliness. Depending on what happens I might yet keep my lips sealed but that depends on coming events.

I don’t think mediocrity is a permanent state either. Until he became President Abe Lincoln was a nobody. Once elected he became transcendent although it took the Civil War and his martyrdom to drive that point home. I will be keeping my eye out for John Wilkes Booth. I have no personal desire for martyrdom…….I’ve already have one of those on my hands.


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