Archive for September, 2010

A Sad Day For District 281

September 28, 2010

A sad announcement came from District 281 yesterday…..

In Memoriam: Barbara A. Lehman

It is with great sadness that we share with you the news that Barbara A. Lehman passed away on Sunday, September 26 after a long battle with cancer. She was 66 years old.

Barb began her teaching career at Sandburg Junior High in 1967, then moved on to Plymouth Junior High for 20 years and Robbinsdale Cooper High School for 13 years.

All of us at Robbinsdale Area Schools extend our condolences to the Lehman family during this difficult time.

Barb has been recognized by many of the organizations she has come in contact with this past year, beginning with the renaming of the Cooper stadium in September 2009.  Since then, she has been the subject of recognition by her alma mater, The College of St. Catherine, and her high school, Derham Hall in St. Paul. Within the last two weeks, Barb attended a recognition event at Derham.

From the time she was a student at Derham Hall, Barbara Lehman knew her interest lay in teaching and coaching.

After graduating from The College of St. Catherine, Lehman began her teaching career at Sandburg Junior High in 1967, then moved on to Plymouth Junior High for twenty years, where she was voted “Best Teacher” by the students an astonishing 18 years in a row.

In 1988, Lehman continued on to Cooper High School as a coach for alpine skiing, basketball, speed swimming and girl’s golf.  In 1993 she was promoted to athletic director for the high school, a post she held for seven years before retiring in 2001.

During her tenure as the first female athletic director in the school’s history, Lehman developed high speed swimming programs and intramural programs for volleyball and basketball, spearheaded initiatives for improved facilities, and devoted much of her energy and time working for gender equity in high school athletics.

Shortly after her retirement, Lehman was diagnosed with ovarian cancer which metastasized to her brain.  She continued treatment on and off for more than six years.

Lehman had been active in retirement, serving as Robbinsdale Area Schools’ wellness coordinator and consultant and coaching boys’ golf at Cooper until 2008.  She remained involved in the Minnesota State High School League and received a Special Merit Award from the Classic Lake Conference in 2007.

In 2009, the Robbinsdale Area School Board voted unanimously to rename the stadium at Robbinsdale Cooper High School after Lehman.  The dedication of Barbara A. Lehman Stadium took place on September 4, 2009 at the Cooper football home opener.

Barb Lehman was a true gem.  She will be greatly missed.  We also want to extend our condolences to her family.

Here’s Yet Another letter to the Editor

September 20, 2010

Where Did the Money Go?

On Nov. 3, 2008, the Robbinsdale Public Schools wrote on its website concerning the referendum money they needed, “The district would also use new referendum revenue to prevent future cuts expected to be necessary as state revenue continues to increase at a rate less than inflation.”  When I visited my son’s school open house, I learned that the class size increased from 23 students to 29 students. I wonder how his second-grade teacher is going to handle all of the needs of the students she serves.

There also were no new after-school activities with these new funds. This leads me to wonder where did the money go for the promise the district made of preventing cuts?  With this track record, how can the district be trusted with their budget and how could they ever expect to pass a referendum in the future?

Michael Resig,


Ah, you want to know where your money is Mr. Resig?  Go to and type in Tom Dooher.

Believe it or not: Good News Part 2

September 9, 2010

Things must be turning around at Meadow Lake Elementary…from the Robbinsdale wesbsite:

State recognizes best practices at Meadow Lake Elementary

Data-driven teaching led to significant increase in test scores

New Hope, Minnesota—The Minnesota Department of Education is praising Meadow Lake Elementary School in New Hope as an example of how teachers and staff can work together to improve student achievement. An article by the agency in this week’s Edweek newsletter highlights the school.  A focused, year-long collaborative effort at Meadow Lake has resulted in a marked increase in Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) scores for the 2009-2010 academic year.  In addition, Meadow Lake students made adequate yearly progress in every category but one last year, out of a possible 36 categories. The year before the school missed in 12 categories.
Principal Kim Hiel and Assistant Principal Amy O’Hern spearheaded the efforts of Meadow Lake teachers and staff. “Our efforts this past year focused on three areas: collaboration among staff, common assessments, and analyzing data to improve instruction and respond to student needs,” she said. Teachers hold regular Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings to discuss data and track student learning.  The staff also reached out to parents. An event called “The ABCs of Meadow Lake” provided all families with an introduction to specific terminology teachers’ use, improving communication between the classroom and home. This was particularly important, as attendance boundaries changed between the 2008-09 and 2009-10 school years, resulting in a change of schools for many students.
“Our improvement from last year has given the Meadow Lake community even more reason to celebrate the extraordinary staff, students and families who work toward the common goal of success,” added Hiel.

Well, that is certainly good news!  And the principal and staff deserve credit.  Let’s make this a trend!

Fixing Public Education: Waiting for Superman

September 8, 2010

“It’s possible. Together we can fix education.” Find out more here.

Minnesota educational stats:

  1. 33% College readiness rate (2002)
  2. 79% High school graduation rate (2009)

Spending our Money Part 3

September 8, 2010

Here is yet another letter to the editor from the Sun Post about a school right by us:

Why do we reward failure?

Low-ranked North View Junior High is getting a $1.7 million federal grant to improve scores. Why we reward failure is beyond me, but that’s the way things work these days. I don’t think throwing money at the problem will work, but if we have to, let’s just pay the kids cash if they reach the testing goals. Instead, math coaches will be hired to help teachers, the principal gets an assistant, and more multilingual staff will be hired. This is really just a No School Staff Left Behind program.

If my calculator and school enrollment are correct, each student could get about $1,500. Money is usually a great motivator. And parents would get a break from their kids pestering them for the latest in electronic gadgetry. They could buy the stuff themselves. A real win-win solution.

Larry Clifford, Brooklyn Park

Great letter Mr. Clifford!  The only choice the education establishment ever gives the taxpayers is to just throw money at it, and if you don’t want to pay you will get called an uncaring, unfeeling, child-hater!

School bearing Al Gore’s name built on contaminated site

September 7, 2010

This is not really related to ISD 281 but it is just too funny to ignore….

Al Gore can’t seem to catch a break these days.

Between a high-profile public divorce, accusations of sexual assault, and a crazed gunman citing his work as the inspiration for his “awakening,” the former vice president’s image has been in a bit of a PR freefall of late.

Now this bit of cruel irony: The Los Angeles-area Carson-Gore Academy of Environmental Sciences, named after Gore and pioneering environmentalist Rachel Carson , was built atop an environmentally contaminated piece of real estate, the Los Angeles Times reports. Some are now raising concerns that the $75.5 million school — which sits across the street from an oil well — may pose long-term health risks to its students, faculty and staff, as the groundwater beneath it is contaminated by chemicals.

Oh my God!  A $75.5 million school!  Maybe we should stop complaining about Northport and Lakeview!  Then again, it is California!

As the L.A. Times’ Howard Blume reports, construction crews worked furiously through the Labor Day weekend to remove dirt “from two 3,800-square-foot plots to a depth of 45 feet, space enough to hold a four-story building.” According to Blume, the soil in those plots once held more than a dozen industrial storage tanks that had contaminated the site’s groundwater. Also beneath the school were the underground tanks from a nearby gas station.  The plan now is for workers to replace the potentially tainted soil with clean soil that school officials have lined up from other sources. The crews are rushing to complete the work before fall semester starts Sept. 13 for the nearly 700 students enrolled.  Some environmental groups are raising an outcry over the alleged health risks associated with the school’s site. School officials say that everything is fine.  “There’s no doubt in my mind that the site is safe, and if there are any changes, our monitoring or our existing processes will detect it and we’ll react to that,” L.A. school system safety chief John Sterritt told the paper. “We really go out of our way to make sure these properties are safe.”

Poor Al!  He really can’t catch a break!

District 281 Celebrates “Free Money”

September 7, 2010

One thing you hopefully learn throughout life is that there is no such thing as free money.  But you wouldn’t know that if you visit the district’s website where there is an article about President Obama’s hair-brained “education jobs bill.”  The website says the following;

A bill to rehire educators affected by layoffs while increasing student learning opportunities has been passed by Congress.  The federal Education Jobs Fund provides $10 billion to help save an estimated 160,000 jobs for teachers and other school-based professionals nationwide.

Think about how wrong the title is; An Education Jobs Bill.  Mr. President do we have schools to provide jobs for your union friends?  The truth is this is just the latest sorry excuse for a stimulus/bailout bill by desperate Democrats after Obama’s first three stimulus bills have failed.  Then he’ll try to take credit for “jobs saved.”  If we continue to bail out states, cities, counties, and school districts, with “federal money,” or to be more accurate, China’s money, what incentive to these institutions have to change the way they do business?  And by the way District 281….state money, local money, and federal money was all our money first.   This money is NOT free!

Minnesota’s projected allocation of nearly $167 million could restore an estimated 2,800 jobs lost in recent layoffs and allow districts to recruit additional staff, avoiding larger class sizes and cuts to education services that impact student achievement. The law prohibits use of the funding for debt retirement, “rainy day” funds, or for administrative purposes. The funding must be used for personnel who provide direct school-based services.  The Minnesota Department of Education’s preliminary estimate of federal jobs legislation funding for Robbinsdale Area Schools is $2.2 million, according to information received Aug. 30. The district has started discussions about how the money could be used.

They are going to talk about how to spend the money?  Like we don’t know what they are going to do!  They will put more employees on the union payroll, the same thing they did with referendum money and with the first failed “stimulus bill.”  Hello Robbinsdale Federation of Teachers!

Schools are allowed to spend the funds in 2010-2011 and/or 2011-2012, however, receiving funds after the beginning of the school year may limit the ways school districts can use the money.  The district will take into careful consideration the timing of the delivery of the funds and how the state’s fiscal situation may impact the use of these funds.

So what happens at the end of 2012?  What will happen to all the employees we “re-hire?”  Ah, who cares!  For now let’s just celebrate FREE MONEY!  Everyone dance in the streets!!  We have FREE MONEY!!!