Ickler Writes a Letter to the Editor

Al Ickler, the Director of Community Education in District 281, recently wrote a letter as a guest columnist in the Sun Post, let’s critics of public education have it.

Ickler writes the following;

David Brooks, the conservative New York Times columnist, recently wrote that “national destinies are not shaped by what percentage of GDP federal spending consumes.” And yet, we have already begun to hear the partisan rancor from our legislators around taxes, spending cuts, reform or a combination of all three.

OK we have to jump in right here.  David Brooks is no conservative.  All he does is rip Republicans and he has no respect outside of New York and Washington.  We know that to Ickler anyone to the right of Barney Frank is conservative so perhaps that the reason.  And what is this partisan rancor?  Are people not allowed to disagree?

I listen to these discussions with a keen ear because I work for Robbinsdale Area Schools. Part of my work is to support the Legislative Action Coalition, a citizen-led group advocating for the learners and communities served by Robbinsdale Area Schools.

The LAC has advocated for resources for all students and, in particular, for children from families living in poverty, because the district’s objective is to raise student achievement for all students, and close the achievement gap.

As we have stated over and over and over, the LAC’s platform is boring and redundant.

Our schools have strong education programs. Both Cooper and Armstrong high schools are ranked among the top 1,500 high schools in the nation by Newsweek magazine. Our high schools have a 95 percent graduation rate. College-bound graduates have traditionally scored above the state and national averages on the ACT college entrance exam.

You know we always hear this Newsweek ranking…..what is this based on exactly?  When was the last time Cooper or Armstrong made AYP?  Oh, that’s right it must be poverty.

But the achievement gap between white students and students of color persists, and is not acceptable. Resources must be allocated, even at a time when resources are scarce.

Sounds like a demand for more money and lower class size….you know those new ideas from the public school apologists.

Our LAC citizen advocates are aware that the per pupil aid formula (the primary revenue source for schools) has not changed since the 2008-09 school year. They also know the state has borrowed money from districts and “shifted” payments from districts. However, the demands for educational success and the needs of students have increased.
Back to David Brooks. If the most important thing is not the percentage of GDP relative to federal spending, what should we be focused on? He says national destinies “are shaped by the character and behavior of citizens.”  And what pivotal institution is located in each of our communities, and partners with families to educate our children and support their development into productive citizens? Our schools.  Education must step to the forefront as we move through the legislative session. Our schools are the engines of success for our children and our community.

A quality education, beginning with excellent preschool experiences and culminating at high school graduation, is key to employment at a livable wage and to a meaningful life well lived. It provides the skills and knowledge to comprehend our increasingly complex world and to be an active participant in a great democracy. Education is the driver of innovation and job growth. Education, in short, is the key ingredient for successful communities.

Yes, and quality education is a great thing that’s why we favor school choice.  If your getting a great education then why does it matter where you are going?  And schools are educational institutions not a basin for “community building” or “social engineering.”

I believe that schools are part of the solution, not the problem, and that we need to first focus on our values as we solve our state’s budget deficit. If you also believe these things, please join me in supporting and advocating for our schools.
Al Ickler(al_ickler@rdale.org) is executive director of community education for Robbinsdale District 281 Schools.

No!  GOOD SCHOOLS are part of the solution.  Then again, to public school apologists there are no bad schools.  We WILL advocate for schools…public and private!

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