Too good to be true

The Red Planner’s broken promise has never been explained so convincingly as in this letter in today’s crowded DNT letters section. I’ll never let my grandchildren into the ISD 709 schools until the community fixes what Dr. Dixon and his dupes broke.

Hanging would be too good and fast an end for the people who so badly compromised the Duluth Public Schools system. They just can’t wait to spend another quarter of a million dollars on the Duluth hockey program in the guise of more play space for the well-heeled Congdon Neighborhood school.

Poor Congdon. They have their own elementary school endowment and they can buy full page ads in the Duluth News Tribune to describe their plight. What a wonderful advertisement it was to the voters the district will soon beg to pass another additional operational levy. More proof that spending for our classrooms comes in a distant second to the need for more and better facilities where Ann Wasson and Judy Seliga-Punyko are concerned.

How appropriate it was to publish this on World Alzheimer’s Day.

In a letter I sent to the Duluth school district and School Board, I described a video clip from TV that aired around 2005, during the Red Plan/Blue Plan debates. I’m in the video, full-frame, heartily defending the Red Plan at a district-sponsored community meeting. With the significant annual savings promised by the district to come out of the plan’s implementation, the Red Plan seemed like a fairly good deal.

Fast forward seven years: This fall my son is in the eighth grade at the newly renovated Ordean-East Middle School — and we are supposed to finally be reaping the benefits of this $300 million endeavor.

Imagine my wife’s and my dismay when we learned there are 47, yes, 47! students in my son’s science class. There are similar numbers in his physical education and German classes. To say we are disappointed would not be nearly strong enough.

We grew up in Russia, a country obviously not as rich as the U.S. However, none of our classes were that large. We wonder whether the district misled us with its descriptions of Red Plan savings. Or perhaps priorities in using these savings were so radically different from those dictated by common sense?

Having taught for more than 20 years, I feel very strongly nothing is more important for the success of a student than the personal attention of a dedicated teacher, which is directly linked to the class size. From a response I received, I know at least one School Board member, Art Johnston, shares my conviction. I received no response from other School Board members yet.

I would like to know whether the district and the rest of the School Board agree with me about class sizes. If so, when will they put the money where the real needs are?

Michael A. Waxman


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