Reflections on Today’s Sunday Trib

As I begin writing this post I have but thirty minutes before I leave to pick up Steven to take him to our church service. I had woken up just before 6AM thinking I had time to read most of the Trib before my grandsons woke up. However, just as I finished my shower I was greeted with the squeals of Jakey-Jake. He woke up before schedule. I managed to read the editorialized story about the wonderful new Denfeld by Chuck Frederick (although the five minutes of reading stretched out over thirty minutes of getting Jakie his morning breakfast. I only had time to read snippets of the other big story about $40 million spent on an illusion – the Excelsior Energy plant that will likely never see use.

Its nice to see that the Trib has finally caught up with my blog although about five years late or perhaps 40 million dollars too late!

I’m at a bit of a loss complimenting the DNT for noticing this gross waste of public money while it still fawns over the School District’s Boondoggle Red Plan. The other story lauds the nifty features to be found in the new Denfeld…

Phooey. Little children got busy again and I’ll have to finish this later.

OK. Its almost four hours later. I heard a few phrases of my daughter’s solo in Church before my Jakey shouted, “Mama, Mama” a little too vigorously for me to let him stay in the church service. I’m waiting for him to start a nap and I’ll try to get a few more words in edgewise.

I was busy looking for Frederick’s article on the DNT’s website when I had to call it quits earlier. I’ve found it now. “It’s absolutely gorgeous” is the banner headline above it. Its vintage Frederick. He’s a very good writer and this suits his forte, human interest.

He begins with a young woman who is from Central High and regards going to Denfeld in her senior year with significant reservations. She and two other students, both Denfeld students, get the tour and by the end their eyes are opened and all of them, including the dubious Central student are sold. The banner headline says it all.

I mentioned a few days ago in Thugs 3 that I was pleased Chuck Frederick let his better angles rule rather than write a big story about my wishing harm to innocent children. Today I could almost overlook the back patting nature of this news story because of the this paragraph.

Plenty of bitterness remains. In the community because the high school consolidation was part of a bigger, $311 million, long-range facilities plan that was allowed to proceed without a public vote to accompany the spending of so much public money. And among students, whose traditions and habits were sometimes trampled or overlooked as the kids were shuffled from school to school the past two years to accommodate construction.

I’m glad that Chuck has acknowledged the community’s wrath in terms that fully justify it.

There is no question that the community needs to embrace these new schools much as a raped mother ought to come to love the child she has been forced to bear. The children in the schools are as innocent as the rape victim’s unplanned progeny. This sounds harsh and I mean it to. I’ve already acknowledged in a letter to the editor last year that some of these schools will be excellent new schools. Whether they are justified by the expenditure in trust and taxes has yet to be seen.

For the three students they should look forward to their new school. From many accounts, even those in the DNT, it was a tough year for all students at Central and many of the Denfeld students felt particularly unwelcome at Central while the construction was under way. In my experience kids are resilient and far less territorial, when push comes to shove, than their parents about stuff like school legacies. That the Atrium and commons are beautiful is good to hear. I suspect that the new year will be such a relief that all involved will find it a great improvement over last year.

I’m still awaiting the opening of East High which was appended to a rather utilitarian junior high. Its parking will likely be a nightmare and it’s nothing to look at as your drive down Superior Street mostly hidden from view. It would be ironic if the new western high school is loved by the western part of the city which most resented its imposition while the eastern end of town that was most enthusiastic about their new high school ends up being disappointed. Perhaps that would be poetic justice.

I’ve published almost every criticism of the new schools that has come across my desk. I’ve only criticized two of the buildings themselves. (that I can recall) One has been East high, for a host of reasons, and Piedmont Elementary for the cramped space it occupies. I’ll hold my judgement of the buildings themselves for the time being. I will say that for all the heated objections to the new western middle school I rather enjoyed seeing its shell the other day as I drove along the constricted and constructed I-35. Its certainly going to be eye catching.

The Trib and I share one trait. We have both been holding our breaths to see what unfolds. For me its been the possibility that the community will soon fall in love with their schools and forget all about the method in which they were imposed. Should that happen I expect to be vilified as a wet blanket. For the Trib’s editors they have been holding their breaths in hopes that their reluctance to lift the rock to see what was hidden under it will be forgiven. If the schools turn out to have been compromised the DNT’s reputation will suffer for giving the Red Plan a lukewarm endorsement.

In some ways the Trib can be excused. The Red Plan came about when it was undergoing a vicious down sizing and in the full-throated thrill of Dr. Dixon’s groupies for an overhaul of our schools. They hedged their bets that the Chamber of Commerce crowd would be vindicated. I hedged my bets that no matter what the result of the Red Plan most people would never find fault with my cry of “let the people vote!”

To give Chuck his due the Trib owes it to the Duluth public to put the best face on the Red Plan. We will need to fall in love with our schools again even if that means enduring the Trib’s crowing “We were right to support it.” That’s not litterally what the Trib’s Denfeld story says…..but yes, it really is. Let’s hope the Trib’s editors are right. The Duluth public paid a very high price for Red Plan schools.

Oh, and about the other $40 million boondoggle up on the Range. I’d like the Cravaack defending Trib to acknowledge that the boondoggle could never have happened without the support of Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty and Republican Senator Nick Coleman.

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