Duluth Federation of Teachers Newsletter


Contradictions are the current theme in our school district. The brochure from the Edison for-profit/not-for-profit experiment in education promises strategies that are "time tested and innovative".

Superintendent Mark Myles explains that our school district does a lousy job educating the 80% (his own statistic) of our students who do not become college graduates. His solution is to hire the Edison Project that promises high school completion after 10th grade and two years of college level advanced placement course work in I lth and 12th grades. Edison is 100% college preparatory and offers only one level--advanced. So what is Mark's solution to the non-college bound student?

The past two years have drained $ I O million from our education programs. We now find ourselves with a very comfortable fund balance projected for July. We should now be able to restore and maintain $ 5 million in education programs this fall. Birchwood Elementary has suffered significantly and parents now need to unite and demand the equitable programming in their school that will automatically return the students who migrated to Lowell Magnet School and other schools that offer elementary support programs. Mark Myles slashed the programs. Mark Myles must now provide parents and students throughout this district with equitable opportunities to learn.

"Eucation reform" is a hot phrase usually used by people who have no concept of education or education statistics. Minnesota tests at the top on every external assessment of education progress: ACT, SAT, NAEP, IAEP, etc. Every test!! Beware when someone quotes national averages on national and international assessments. Minnesota is the top score, we are not the national average. There are few, if any, "innovative reforms" in education that haven't already been tried somewhere. If we are not careful, education reform may mean lowering Minnesota's student performance to national levels.

How about: "Accountability for students and teachers based on actual test data provided by standardized tests." The few Edison schools in existence now have one common thread that binds them together. There is no empirical data to prove any significant (or even insignificant) increase in student performance. None?T This is also true of all the charter schools in Minnesota.

There are charter schools, magnet schools and theme specific schools around the country that exist and have functioned well for years. The thread that binds them together is the ownership generated by the teachers, parents and students. Teachers are secure, confident, and are under union contract with provisions adjusted for their special circumstances.

So far, the D.F.T. has not taken an official position in favor or opposed to the Edison Project. We have very specifically been left out of any discussions. We as teachers accept our charge to be stewards for our community concerning education programs. So far the Edison Project is all hyperbole and very little data. There is no "magic pill" to produce a results--oriented education program.

So far, our superintendent has been very hostile, uncooperative and secretive regarding information on the Edison Project. If the program is so good, why are teachers being left out of the discussions?

Jim Melander
First Vice President