Friday, 2-15-2002

  Border Ruffians

Dear Political Diary,

I'm a Kansan, a Jayhawker, by birth. I took Kansas history very seriously when I was a kid. I read all about the "border ruffians" from Missouri who crossed into Kansas to vote in the territorial elections for a proslavery constitution. It was the time of John Brown and bleeding Kansas. Now its Bleeding Woodland and I can't help but wonder if a new batch of border ruffians will raise cane.

The Trib's front page story today described the new boundaries for the new three corridor Duluth district. The three high school plan splits Woodland in two. Families whose children have attended East may soon be sending them to Central High School. I got two calls from parents today.  It remains to be seen if this new border will lead to any bloodletting.

Because I've been in favor of a two high school plan and but gotten no support from the Board to investigate such a scheme I feel little obligation to defend the proposed division to the residents I represent. Although I don't mind pointing out the merits of the two high school plan I figure its up to the other Board members to defend it especially since I'll probably vote against it. 

The borders will probably be tinkered. We will allow some grand fathering in and parents will be allowed to transport their kids to schools outside the new attendance areas. These measures may defuse most of the anger. Maybe things will quiet down.

On the other hand I am quite confident that if my two high school plan were put to Duluth's voters it would win hands down. A poll taken a few weeks before the last election showed that 60 % of voters didn't want us to close a high school but 70% didn't want us to close neighborhood elementary schools which is where the Board's plan will take us. 

Besides its emphasis on closing elementary schools there is another aspect of the three high school plan which will make it controversial. It divides the border so as to ensure that both Central and East high schools will have roughly similar diversity in their student bodies. I approve of this but it will mean giving huge parts of the old Central attendance area to East and vice versa. My two high school plan would have accomplished the same thing but without forcing so many kids to attend a school that was farther away from where they lived.

Since the Board has been dismissive and angry with me for continuing to push for two high schools I've been quite happy to give their phone numbers to the parents who are calling me. 

Read a succinct and eloquent email from a parent who finds fault with the proposed division of Woodland Avenue.

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