709 reporting

Compare today’s DNT story about the last of the Good feelings dog and pony show put on by the Duluth School District with the Zenith’s treatment of the same.

The DNT’s story is a fair minded story and good traditional journalism. The Zenith’s is too but with a strong taste of outrage which leaves it straddling objective journalism and editorial.

I don’t think that the leadership of ISD 709 can take comfort with either story. The Zenith represents the attitude of all the folks who have not showed up for the good will tour. What’s the point, they would ask. The District didn’t listen before they plunged into the quagmire with our checkbooks. Now they are like a mammoth stuck in the LeBrea tar pits and we are like ravenous saber tooth tigers high up on the pachyderm’s back too far from shore to save ourselves.

The email friend who I quoted before makes the caustic comment that the only reason for the meetings is for the district to cajole the community into voting for their next pathetic request that we pass an operating referendum. That is also clear in the story. If we want to get out of the tar pit we will have to spend more money.

I thought the comment of one of the six attendees at the meeting (yes, six) Gary Anderson pretty well summed up the attitude of the District “he’s done talking about the Red Plan.” That could mean several things. Gary was a Red Plan supporter who no longer wants to defend the decision. He was an RP opponent who no longer wants to spend his time reconciling his unhappy fellow citizens. He just wants the past forgotten. (He must not be Jewish)

This has been the attitude of the new Superintendent as well. The problem? It won’t go away. The memory is still too raw and even when a bland story like the Trib’s goes out the reporter is honest enough to spell out the lousy attendance figures. 350 people for 32 meetings! That’s a miserable 3 percent of Duluth’s population. 97 percent of the City doesn’t care if there are 50 kids in a classroom or too mad about it to attend. The District’s only solution – and it is the only solution – is to ask for money.

But, of course, there is no way the voters will gived it to them with Mr. Anderson’s or Supt. Gronseth’s attitude of “what’s done is done.”

No, the Red Plan and its sorry consequences obviously aren’t done. They won’t be until we get back to 32 kids in a class or less.

The failure of imagination on the part of the people who gave us the Red Plan staggers me. I’m an old agnostic but I can recommend some of the virtues touted in the New Testament. Some humility and candor could go along way in helping angry and grieving Duluthians get over the Red Plan. That would require something akin to an apology and request for forgiveness. It won’t happen as long as pride stands in the way. Every School Board member’s Op-Ed justification touting the Red Plan’s “savings” is just salt in the wound and an insult to our collective intelligence. You might as well ask me for money after extending your middle finger.

The Red Planners were good Democrats when it came to spending our money and good Republicans when it came to ignoring the public’s will.

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