I should have been prepared for the reactions of West Duluthians today. Today’s News Tribune story which was optimistically titled “Duluth school scores improve” had some grim reading.
There was one bright spot which should be noted first. The Laura MacArthur school came back from the grave. The worrisome part is that it took a couple million dollars pumped into this lone school last year to make it rise from single digits (3%) to the fairly respectable ranking of about 65%. Western Duluth has a truckload of schools this year down near where Laura Mac was. Lincoln Park Middle is at 9% (meaning that 91% of state schools students test better) Stowe is at 4.5% Denfeld is at an alarming 11.7 %. Piedmont which until a few years ago was always one of the top schools in the state is at a miserable 24% explaining why so many Piedmont children are attending Proctor and Hermantown.
When I served on the Board I don’t recall any test ranking much below 30% in any of our schools. Single Digits were unthinkable. Its just one more reason this is a make or break election. Without the levies passing we could earn the distinction of having the lowest ranking schools in the state because we would be forced to cut four million extra from next year’s budget. The word catastrophic doesn’t even come close to describing what that would mean.
The Laura Mac experiment took millions to pull off. But even with the passage of both levies there will only be a pittance to pour into the other struggling western schools. Ah, but Duluth East has a nice new Stadium.
My campaign literature gets it about right when it begins, “I’m angry.” The end is right on target too when I sign off “an idiot candidate for the Duluth School Board.”