Dr. Doty’s 2 cents

Below you will see the poor excuse for advocacy which appeared in the Trib’s letter column just before my blog went down. I composed a rough draft response dealing with Dr. Doty’s work but with no blog to put it in I laid it aside in order to write a shorter riposte for the newspaper. That is the epistle I had to keep resubmitting over and over until the Trib would accept it. After the sixth or seventh iteration, I emailed Chuck Frederick and complained that I didn’t think the Washington Post’s Ben Bradlee ever gave Woodward or Bernstein as much trouble on their Watergate stories as Chuck was giving me on my damn letter.

By coincidence I had planned to write five “Thugs for Better Schools” posts. Writing 1,2 and 3 were cathartic enough for me so that I dropped 4 and 5. The coincidence Dr. Doty was to be the subject of the fourth post in the series. I’ve decided to take the rough response I shelved a couple weeks ago, and post it as Thugs for Better Schools IV to help me complete my catharsis.

Here’s the Doty letter which prompted it:

I’m sure I wasn’t the only person relieved to learn the recent playground fire at Lester Park school was not started by an opponent of the Red Plan. There was some quiet conjecture that perhaps someone hostile to the $296 million school revitalization plan had a role in the fire. Alas, three juveniles admitted their role in the disaster, and although the damage caused by the fire was extensive, it was nonetheless good to know that some folks still angry about the Red Plan weren’t responsible (“Two teens face charges for burning playground,” Oct. 6).

Even now, nearly four months after 64-year-old Superintendent Keith Dixon retired, a few Duluthians continue to demonize him.
As the president of community colleges in Minnesota, Missouri and Ohio for a total of
24 years, I believe the former Duluth superintendent of schools was one of the most brilliant, courageous and gutsy administrators I’ve ever known.

As News Tribune reporter Jana Hollingsworth wrote in her superb article on June 19, Dixon is “the face of the Red Plan” (“In era of school change, Dixon weathered conflict”). He left behind a magnificent building program and “has made changes in how kids are taught, how schools are run, and how the unions and administration (positively) interact.”

Several years ago, as a columnist for the Duluth Budgeteer News, I interviewed Dixon several times. He calmly told me of the vitriol he endured during his five years here, including several threats on his life. He said his wife, Sarah, was “terrific support for me.”
He endured, and we are the benefactors.

Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce President David Ross said it best in Hollingsworth’s article: “Five, 20, 50 years from now (we) will look back with great admiration for our community, which came together and funded revitalization.”
And for that we have Dixon to thank.

Ralph R. Doty

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