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No goal? No plan? No millage. (Part 1)

Pro-bond supporter, Robert Bokram, insisted Ferndale's K-12 program is 87 percent in-district students. If that number is correct, our district's performance is worse than we thought.

Last Sunday's issue forum on the $23 million school bond proposal is available now on YouTube. During the discussion, pro-bond supporter and member of Citizens for Quality Schools, Robert Bokram, took issue with some of my numbers (available here for anyone to review). He insisted that Ferndale's core K-12 program is populated with 87 percent in-district students.

Let's pretend his number is correct. Does that number reflect any better on our community's schools? Do we really believe that our community's students, after 13 years of a Ferndale School District education are only capable of a 36 percent proficiency in math? 53 percent in reading? 54 percent in science?

I would expect that if we believe Mr. Bokram's number is accurate, our community should be embarrassed that its dedication to its school system, that $62 million spent since 1995, and another $23 million proposed in two weeks has only managed to educate our students - to prepare them for their future - so disproportionately less-achieving than two other districts that share a boundary with ours.

Again, voters must ask themselves what is the district's goal for our students? What is its plan to achieve that goal? If there is a goal and there is a plan, is that goal and plan to increase our students' readiness for college and jobs in health care, engineering, alternative power, or other high-tech industries our state is trying to grow?

The good news, if you can call it that, is that Ferndale is performing better than either Oak Park or Hazel Park. But with those two districts performing near the bottom, we should be careful not to brag too much.

(Original plosted at http://tggagne.blogspot.com/)

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Derek Delacourt February 23, 2012 at 05:59 PM
I see two diferent statistics, is the 87% students in the "core" K-12 program, cited by Mr. Bokram, the same as the State enrollment statistics Mr. Gagne is citing? If not we are talking about apples and oranges and the comparision is no acurate.
Thomas Gagne February 23, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Derek, I've not found the 87% number in the information I've found online. I could be missing something. The information from the State DoE I've found (https://www.mischooldata.org/DistrictSchoolProfiles/StudentInformation/NonResidentStatus/Snapshot.aspx) doesn't break-down the information by-school or by which schools are "core" and which are not. Wherever that number comes from, I'd love to review it to compare with the state's numbers.
Robert Bokram February 25, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Mr. Gagne; the number is 86.3%. The dist. administration can/has provided the data. We don’t have to pretend this is true…it is. But this debate is a red herring. The real issue is about fostering a quality education for all our students, whether resident or non-resident. Passage of the millage will provide for structural improvements that don’t necessarily correlate to improved test scores; removal of all asbestos, new kitchens for UHS and Roosevelt, upgrades for the auditorium and pool infrastructure, new pavement, and both interior and exterior facilities improvements. That said, there are also numerous fund investments that WILL improve student test scores; a new technology infrastructure that will enable new teaching methods (along with a new curriculum that utilizes these technologies), smart-boards, hand held tablets, more computers for the classrooms, wireless access across the district, HVAC, new security systems for a safe learning environment. Mr. Gagne says we should wait until the district has a plan for improved test scores, yet seems blind to the benefits embedded in this well-defined plan for the bond funds. If we wait, our bond capacity drops from 25 million to 13 million. Does this make sense? Not if you want to maximize the value of the district assets (bond funds spent on capital improvements accrue onto the total asset value). The district has an innovative 5 year plan for the district and proven the merits to the public, in detail! Vote YES.
Debi February 26, 2012 at 06:33 AM
VOTE NO UNTIL THE RIGHT PRIORITIES ARE IN PLACE! Money, buildings, technology, etc. has never taught a student how to learn! Students performance on standardized tests reflect the levels of knowledge achieved. There is no disputing the decreased learning taking place in the Ferndale Public Schools over the last decade. Let's put the emphasis on providing a good academic education to the students, which is the greater good, than how comfortable or tech savvy they are! STUDENTS WILL LEARN WHEN GOOD TEACHERS: ~ possess knowledge & enthusiasm for what the subject matter is ~ demand civility, respect & courtesy of all in the classroom ~ concern for the student's learning exceeds his/her own personal concerns ~ teach academics & stop teaching agenda driven social issues ~ be professional - the students do not need to know about teachers personal lives Also, let's go back to using the words "teacher" & "student". It creates a warmer & more humane atmosphere than "educator" & "learner".
Brian Clark February 26, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Is there an example of a school district that's doing things the "right" way?

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