Dick Palmer: What's a minute in year-long cycle of teaching kids?
I don't know about you, but that decision this past week to extend the school lunch period at Duluth's high schools five minutes seems a little too sweet to me, and I'm not even a cake eater. I'm wondering just how important the five minutes real...
I don't know about you, but that decision this past week to extend the school lunch period at Duluth's high schools five minutes seems a little too sweet to me, and I'm not even a cake eater. I'm wondering just how important the five minutes really is and I'm wondering if, in fact, taking away one minute per class time per day is really such a good idea?
With five classes per day, five minutes a day times five days a week equals 25 minutes a week of less class time multiplied by the number of weeks in the school year times three high schools and voila, who is really getting shortchanged here? Whew!
If it is really a problem getting to class after lunch, why not extend the school day five more minutes? I wonder how many kids would vote for that? And I'm wondering if the teachers' union would permit such an extension of time without kicking up a fuss?
Duluth educational challenges are far more reaching than a five-minute extension of the school lunch break. Managing time is part of life's cycle, so why not stress that regime in the school setting? However, the decision has been made, and it's time to move on here.
Extending Superintendent Julio Almanza's contract one more year was a sound decision in the judgment of this writer.
Almanza is a solid educator and earned his educational stripes from humble beginnings. He knows the territory, and he has a genuine interest in his job here in Duluth. In any public setting, the top man or woman doesn't always work in harmony with associates, especially elected associates and thus, three school board members, Mike Akervik, Mary Cameron and Garry Krause voted against renewing the Almanza contract. Board members Laura Condon, Mary Glass-LaBlanc, Bob Mars, Bob Nygaard and Harry Welty supported the superintendent.
So where do we go from here? That is the real assignment. The homework needed to solve all this is exhausting.
The excess levy recently passed by residents in Independent School District No. 709 represents but a brief stopgap effort and soon, very soon, cutting out one high school and other educational facilities will again be on the front burner, and the hue and cry will continue to disrupt the logic of the issue. The point is, our problems didn't go away with the passage of the excess tax levy. They were only delayed and, generally speaking, delays usually compound the problems.
When the new school board convenes in January, there is much to do and not a lot of time to do it. It would seem that academic challenges vs. extracurricular embellishments will hang heavily on the budget process. Making the right decisions will take more than neighborhood loyalties.
When many of us went to school, reading, writing and arithmetic were the primary subjects in the classroom setting but not today. Today, there is a universe filled with opportunity and challenge with reading and arithmetic being brushed aside in this maze of diversion. The Internet has taken over our lives, and most kids today depend on the "spell-check" feature on their computer rather than the basic dictionary that not only spells the word but explains its meaning in depth.
As Duluth's continuing educational dilemma unfolds, perhaps more public interest and input will establish a better liaison between the schools and the communities at large. That would, indeed, be a step in the right direction.
Dick Palmer is the former editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 729-6470 or by
e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .