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Letter: Councilman Discusses Ferndale School Board Endorsements

City Council member T. Scott Galloway submitted this letter to the editor.

Ferndale Patch welcomes letters to the editor.

The following was submitted by Ferndale City Council member T. Scott Galloway in response to a previous letter to the editor on school board endorsements.

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The reason I support the BOLD candidates for the Ferndale School Board is simple. When I first ran for Ferndale City Council eleven years ago the top  concern of residents was our schools.  After almost three terms on Council the top concern of Ferndale residents remains our schools.

During this time most of the individuals elected to Ferndale’s School Board were endorsed by CBE, the same political action committee that supports BOLD’s  opponents in this election.

A decade is more than enough time to effect transformative change within an organization yet I hear the same complaints about Ferndale Schools in 2012  that I heard in 2001: unsatisfactory test scores, the perception of poor academics, and a School Board that demonstrates both a bunker mentality toward residents of the District and a “go along to get along” relationship with the Administration that rarely results in a critical analys is of the Superintendent’s policy initiatives.

If the School Board has been unable to transform the school district during the last decade, then I have no confidence that we will experience dramatic change in our district by electing yet another slate of CBE endorsed candidates.

Ferndale needs a school district that the whole community is proud of, a school district that draws people to our city rather than driving them away and a school board that unites rather than divides our residents.  Ferndale wants more than mere financial stability from our school district.  Ferndale expects more from our schools and we deserve more.

The BOLD candidates may not immediately have all the answers to the District’s challenges, but I am absolutely certain that if elected they will ask the tough questions that have been avoided for far too long.  I am not alone in my support of BOLD.  Elected officials and more than 250 individuals from all four communities within the District have publically endorsed Amy Butters, Jim O’Donnell, Raylon Leaks-May and Kevin Deegan-Krause.  Rather than a conspiracy or an attempted coup d’ etat from City Hall, perhaps the endorsement of so many elected officials is simply a recognition that it is time for a change on the Ferndale School Board.

T. Scott Galloway
Councilman
City of Ferndale

Julie Knepper- Updyke October 19, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Sorry it took me so long to respond. I think the main reason my peers won't move because of the schools has to do with what information is easily accessible. While the MEAP conversation is always divisive, and I know that there are organizations working on establishing a more relevant 'report card' to compare schools, the reality is that the MEAP is the only easily accessible common evaluator between all districts.... and Ferndale's scores on the MEAP are HORRID. (I believe there was 7% proficiency in Science last year in the 8th grade, with other scores topping out in the 30% range for proficiency?) When someone, particularly someone from out of the region, is researching where to move, they look at this as a baseline- and immediately rule Ferndale out. I know there is more to quality education than the MEAP, but the reality is that it is used by parents to get an overall picture of student achievement in a district. When I talk to parents, I do hear positive stories about the schools- the problem is they are all subjective. I need data. I can't rely on "the teachers are great." In all seriousness- there is no "unit scale for greatness." What does that mean? I need to know what the standards are for achievement, and from the conversations I've had with school leaders and others, achievement isn't part of the conversation. I'd love to hear more discussion and see more transparency about what the inside of Ferndale classrooms look and sound like.
Adelaide Downing October 19, 2012 at 06:10 PM
I am sorry if this is a double post but I looked at these two links and it seems to me that we are pretty much in line with how the rest of the state preforms. But look at the data and tell me what you see. http://www.michigan.gov/documents/mde/Fall_2011_Statewide_MEAP_Results_376778_7.pdf https://oeaa.state.mi.us/oeaa/directory/meap.asp?dCode=63020&bCode=-99&gCode=117&aCode=MEAP
Adelaide Downing October 19, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Science looks like an achilles heel. I guess they are all below what would be considered average. I know this is to some degree this hyper focus on test scores is the nature of our society. My oldest is in Med school and had to take the MCAT's and then the medical boards; there is something a bit strange about so much pressure on tests that encompass so much learning over so many years. I still think to weigh where one is going to send one's child on just MEAP scores is narrow for lack of a better word and certainly I would never look to only that to determine where my kids get their education. Perhaps too as an older parent what I know would have concerned me when my youngest was little to what I now know to be important has changed. So I understand perhaps this being so much a focus for new parents with young children. So maybe there is some kind of answer in there in terms of outreach and Public Relations.
Adelaide Downing October 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
I am going to be very personal here to illustrate a point. My father got a full scholarship to Yale from where he graduated. By common standards he was not a success in life. He was a good and very decent man and we led an unconventional and rich life but he struggled in the world until he passed away at quite an early age from cancer. I went to school in Europe as a child both France and England. I spoke French fluently pretty quickly as I was attending the neighborhood school, and went to a very "good " high school once we came back to the states. My life is not exactly a success by conventional standards. My oldest daughter went to Ferndale schools from 3rd grade on and is in Med school and a newly single mom. She is by all conventional standards a tremendous success. My oldest son is the head chef at Maria's Front Room and is 22. My middle girl had learning disabilities but is a terrific nanny. My younger two are both in high school and do very well on the MEAPs and well in school. My high school age daughter is also a serious and accomplished ballerina she got accepted into a very good ballet school in NYC. My high school aged son is also in Marching Band and played on the tennis team as well. So on balance my kids who have had ordinary and what some might call substandard Ferndale educations are on balance much more successful than either my father or i who had what normally would be considered huge educational environment advantages.
Adelaide Downing October 19, 2012 at 07:26 PM
One important point that might have got lost. As a single mom of five kids I feel so extremely fortunate to have quite by happenstance ended up in all places Ferndale MI to have and raise my kids. Because I am quite clear that without our great schools and the tremendous support that the community gives them my kids might have turned out quite differently. We have something truly special here that is not reflected in a MEAP score, something that does indeed promote success. And pretty much all current good thinking on test scores is that they are indicative of very little and should be something we move our focus away from, not to. People need to be disavowed of their focus on test scores not apologized to because ours don't "measure" up.

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