To the Editor:
Bessemer Principal Daniel Vander Velden’s June 13 letter to the editor regarding the condition of our schools fails to discuss the elephant in the room.
That is, the state’s education dashboard, mischooldata.org, has a detailed accounting of the Bessemer Area Schools’ deficiencies, both financial and academic. In fact, we’re on the state’s radar for academic and financial deficiencies.
When citizens debunk the school board’s and superintendent’s claims of academic glory with facts to the contrary, facts from the state’s accountability dashboard, that’s not being negative and extreme, it’s being accurate.
The state’s accountability dashboard, mandated by federal law, is asking citizens to take note and to take action. That explains the movement for consolidation in Bessemer, Wakefield and Marenisco.
Our schools need reform. Our school board is incapable of reform. Superintendent Dave Radovich talks about shared services, yet the school’s clerk recently admitted in writing that no shared services have ever been budgeted. Radovich, we’re paying attention to everything you say.
Education reform is taking place from coast to coast. Recent articles in The New Yorker magazine discuss education reform, and they’re highly informative. Basically, effective schooling is complicated, especially in an environment tainted by a school board who refuses to engage in honest discussions about our weaknesses, both financial and academic.
Progress is possible if decision makers heed a few basic principles. The most important is that communities are entitled to a voice and an accounting of resources. The state’s accountability dashboard gives critics or supporters of the status quo the chance to see things as they are.
In Michigan, citizens can move past authoritarian, stubborn and ineffective school boards and make an informed decision at the polls.
I’m puzzled why my colleagues on the Bessemer School Board don’t have any interest in education reform, particularly when the state legislature just appropriated millions in their school aid budget for school reform. The school aid budget that was approved last week includes $2 million for school consolidation innovation grants.
If consolidation is approved, the first order of business for a new school board should be to apply for consolidation innovation grants.