Fairy tales #2

I couldn’t lambaste the Strib for inserting paid advertising as a news story because they published the story noted in the previous post in good faith. I can’t say the same about this blather from the Cook News-Herald which was sent to me a couple days ago. I didn’t see the paper but most of it appears to be glowing comments from Hermantown parents who toured JCI’s new schools in St. Louis County. According to my email corespondent it was on the Front page of the Cook News-Herald:

I’ll explain why this is so damnable immediately below.

New ISD 2142 South Ridge School draws ‘wows’ from Hermantown Delegation

ISD 2142, with its two brand new schools, North Woods and South Ridge, and its remodeled schools of Cherry, Northeast Range and Tower-Soudan, is drawing the attention of surrounding schools

On Friday, March 22, the South Ridge School had a large delegation from the Hermantown School District come to the school for a tour. Hermantown is in the beginning stages of working on a strategic plan for the future, so they wanted to see what the schools of the future are like. Johnson Controls, the firm that handled the construction for the new and remodeled schools, is working with Hermantown on their future facilities plan and set up the tour. Principal Kristi Berlin gave the tour to 30 board members, teachers, staff and citizens of the Hermantown School District who rode a school bus to the South Ridge School. Reports are they were noticeably impressed with the new South Ridge School. There were many “wows.” Is ISD 2142 becoming the leader in education for northern Minnesota?

Following the tour, on the way back to Hermantown, members of the delegation were asked to write down their thoughts on the new South Ridge School. Following are some of the comments. The “wow” factor was there. What a great multi-use concept. Love the look inside and out. What an inviting look and feeling. Colors are great. If they voted for this, why won’t our people do this for our kids? Our buildings are a disgrace. Look at what others do for their children’s education. The “No” People just don’t care about the kids. These kids are our future. “Come on, people!” Loved the common space with auditorium. The multi-use space was fantastic. I saw lots of smiling faces from young people. A little concerned about the square feet in each classroom. Really felt like a community space. Build one building to serve the elementary and the middle school. The school store was a great idea. Computer labs should be scaled back and more mobile based. Loved all the natural light. Very effective use of space. Gym space was fantastic! Science Labs! Star boards in rooms as options. Loved that band/choir rooms were placed together. Wide hallways. Inviting atmosphere.

A lot of conversation occurred up front. It is evident in the fact that they wouldn’t change a thing. Wow! Lots of thought went into this school also. Loved the idea of the school and community partnership. Great learning environment – wasn’t keen on K-12, but have changed my mind. Still got the wow factor without all the bells and whistles.

The South Ridge School was very impressive. It was modest, but very functional. I feel Hermantown could benefit from a school model like this. The security precautions were everything I could hope for as a parent.

The restructuring of ISD 2142 is becoming known around the Northland.

North Woods School to hold community meeting The brand new, state-of-the-art North Woods K-12 School is closing out its first year. A community meeting will be held Tuesday, April 16, 7 p.m., at the school. Community members, moms, dads and students can hear of all the good things that are happening in ISD 2142 that are making a difference at the North Woods School.

Comments, questions and kudos are welcome from the community at this meeting.

This tour was a JCI selling job. They want Hermantown to follow Duluth and the St. Louis County Schools lead in letting them manage a major school construction job. That means they will collect unnecessary commissions as an extra layer of construction bureaucracy just like they did in Duluth.

I wasn’t surprised at the enthusiasm of the Hermantown parents. I was nonplussed by the rah rah spirit of the News-Herald’s author. Read the following email exchange with the friend who sent me the story and see if it doesn’t turn your stomach too:


“Whoopee! Who is gda?”


“Gary Albertson, publisher, owner and editor of the JCI/ISD 2142 public relations agency…The Cook News-Herald.”


“Two thoughts:
1. His paper has a legitimate reason for helping his community think well of the public schools.
2. As a shameless flack for a project that has left scar tissue its not surprising that he would churn out breathless happy talk to cover his ass.”


“His legitimate reason is this: He has been awarded the contract to print the monthly newsletter of the district to all mailboxes in the school attendance area (read money and revenue). He also was awarded the contract to print the district’s minutes, despite the Timberjay coming in with the lowest bid. He established a personal relationship with the former Superintendent and played racketball each week with him at the Supreme Court in Virginia…. Again, money and revenue flow to the Cook News-Herald. GDA has been repeatedly chastised for editorializing his coverage of the school district on his front pages, rather than reserving them for his opinion page. Visions of the DNT?”

Like the Minneapolis Trib the Cook Herald-News needs to make money. In this case Mr. Anderson is doing it by fawning over the School Board that gave him a contract to service its newsletter needs. The comparisson with the Timberjay who’s publisher Marshall Helmberger has won awards for revealing the duplicity of Johnson Controls is stark. One is a newspaper parasite the other a journalist.

It reminds me of the time Dr. Dixon greased Howie Hanson’s palms by giving him $19,000 to produce a website for the Duluth School District. Howie then couldn’t say anything bad about the Red Plan in his publication Twin Ports People. Too bad Dixon didn’t know that Howies editorial policy was never to write anything negative. It was a wasted payoff. Howie’s online site for the District was a joke no one ever looked at.

Remoras always stick close to a shark’s butt for leftovers.

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