To the Editor:
In recent letters to the editor, it is quite clear that Michael Korpela’s and William Hill’s highly negative attacks on the Bessemer schools are extreme.
Korpela’s letter states that the data from the Michigan Education Department website mischooldata.com provides accurate information regarding the pros and cons of consolidation. This is misleading. The website provides data regarding school enrollment, test scores and special education reports. Nowhere does it mention the pros and cons of consolidation.
Concerned citizens are encouraged to visit the website and search out Bessemer schools. As Superintendent Dave Radovich and I have stated, the school academic scores are outstanding. Study the enrollment data for Bessemer in the last 10 years and future projections indicate a trend of steady enrollment increases.
If Hill would attend school board meetings, he would have heard Radovich state we experience fluctuations in enrollment. That’s normal. However, the data from a certified firm indicates positive enrollment trends.
When Korpela inaccurately portrayed the color tags assigned to school districts, he was doing Bessemer an injustice. Only 4.5 percent of Michigan schools scored green. Think about how few schools this really entails. There is no correlation between color and proficiency.
Twenty-three percent of the 4.5 percent of green schools are island schools or one-room schools. Forty-one percent of the 4.5 percent of green schools are in operation for one year or less with no data for comparison. The average size enrollment of green schools is 200 students or less. Korpela and Hill have taken bits and pieces of information to fit their agenda.
Bessemer is meeting the needs of its lower 30 percent, and those students are succeeding. Each year schools are measured on adequate yearly progress, or AYP, with closing the gap between students at the top and students at the bottom. The state rates Bessemer’s AYP at 100 percent grade A.
The staff is committed to high standards, dedicated to all students, and there is no complacency regarding mediocrity. It’s offensive to state anything to the contrary.
Consolidation does not guarantee anything. It doesn’t guarantee an improved curriculum or financial stability. What consolidation does guarantee is a lot of unknowns.
With consolidation, a newly appointed board will have its own priorities and there is no guarantee what they will prioritize. Control is taken out of the hands of each community and places power into the hands of a few. That is a guarantee.
Daniel Vander Velden
A.D. Johnston High School