To the Editor:
At the April 29 public meeting regarding consolidation, Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District Superintendent Bruce Mayle was asked if Bessemer was on the state’s (Department of Education) radar for academic and financial problems. His answer was “yes.”
The facts support him. Mayle and his assistant directed the audience to mischooldata.org. The state’s website offers a wide range of information regarding every district in the state.
It’s an eye-opening exhibit, particularly for citizens seeking accurate information on the pros and cons of consolidation. If you’ve got questions, many of them can be answered with this website.
The website shows that by objective state standards, Bessemer Area Schools and Wakefield-Marenisco Schools are yellow tagged as districts with significant academic and financial deficiencies. Schools with green tags are schools operating without serious deficiencies.
Academically, by objective standards, Bessemer’s academic rank has been in steady decline during recent years. Bessemer schools are yellow tagged as deficient largely because we’re not taking care of the bottom 30 percent of our students. In that specific category, we’re failing, and red tagged.
Parents with students in that bottom 30 percent think something is wrong with their child’s education. The red tag lends credibility to their concerns.
The website comprehensively discredits claims made by our school board and superintendent that “we’re soaring academically.”
The Wakefield-Marenisco School is well below average academically, and also in decline.
These deficiencies are not the result of teachers and their efforts. Teachers are doing the best they can with what they have.
Accepting a mediocre, or in some cases, a failing record, our school boards have no plan to remedy these problems either academically or financially.
That’s why more than 300 citizens signed petitions for a consolidation ballot. Consolidation offers us the opportunity to pool our financial resources, improve curriculum and provide a quality education for all of our students.
If we consolidate, the top priority of a new school board should be improving education for the bottom 30 percent of our students.
There is ample time to plan transition — nearly one full year — until July 2015. During that time, our new school board, the GOISD and the state Department of Education will do what our current school boards cannot — develop a plan to educate all of our students.