The letter sent to the Duluth School Board today by the Superintendent of Schools back in 1996:
School Board Members,
I would like to first thank you for your work on the board, it is too often thankless. Lost in the discussion regarding Central High School is the reason Edison is here in the first place. In 1996 Minnesota first tested eighth graders in reading and math. Duluth didn’t do so well. In fact, 2/3 of the state’s 300 plus school districts outperformed Duluth in basic reading and 3/4 outperformed Duluth in basic math. In light of those results and a 25% dropout rate plus the
achievement gaps between white, minority, higher and lower income students, the nine member school board unanimously decided to try and do something about it. Minnesota charter school legislation had recently been enacted and the school board had turned down two weak proposals. Inevitably there would be a charter school but rather than weak proposals they proactively sought the best research based charter school focused on Duluth’s needs. They went nationwide requesting proposals for a research, results, accountability based charter school. Local teachers were asked to submit a proposal, they chose not to. Edison was selected from all applicants. Edison introduced to Duluth a longer school day, a longer school year, all day every day kindergarten, before and after school child care, current technology, and well researched curricula and instruction. The Duluth Edison public charter school has operated successfully for 19 years with waiting lists in most grades. The for profit argument is mute in that the Northstar and Raleigh Academies are now independent of Edison. The school board policy in question was enacted specifically to block Edison’s purchase of school buildings. Prior to Edison the school board had no such policy and willingly sold Lowell school to the Christian Academy and Lakeside to the St. Michael’s school.