To the editor:
I find it incredibly convenient that the front page of the Journal on August 31, 2023, focuses on our local schools’ failure to educate our children and attributes it to COVID-19. However, the truth is that even before the pandemic, the MCA Data by year was not very impressive. I encourage readers to visit the ISD 88 website and review the numbers for the past six years (excluding 2020). The website proudly boasts of a “95% Graduation Rate” for the district. But should we really celebrate sending 95% of our graduating seniors into the world when only about 45% of them are performing at grade level?
The district has listed two main goals: to increase student growth in state/national assessments by 3% each year, and to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in our schools. These goals have been in place for quite some time now. While the Board of Education has been actively working on diversity, inclusion, and equity initiatives like creating PRISM, little effort seems to be put into achieving the goal of increasing test scores. In fact, test scores have either remained stagnant or decreased. It’s clear that continuing on the same educational path will only lead to further decline.
The problem lies in the fact that Education Minnesota is running the system. As long as this continues, there is no hope for improvement. There needs to be accountability within the system. Currently, once teachers achieve tenure, it becomes nearly impossible to remove the underperforming ones. Unfortunately, this also means that the exceptional teachers cannot be adequately rewarded. Without accountability, the educational system is destined to fail.
It is time for the local school board to be held accountable. Board members should actively participate in school board meetings, ask tough questions, and engage with the public. Merely continuing along the same path will not bring about any change, let alone increase test scores by 3% every year. Excuses should be set aside, and tangible results should be the focus.