Whatever other objectives a school system may have, its primary purpose should be to educate children. It should go without saying that the education a child receives is the foundation they will build their futures on.
It is also important to note that children only get one chance at their education. They will only pass through elementary, middle, then high school once. They have as good a chance repeating their education as they do repeating their first day at school.
Because kids only get once chance it's important they get the most out of it as possible. It is also important that parents and taxpayers know the quality of the education they're paying for when considering whether to support their district administration and school board members.
With those points in mind, let's examine how Ferndale School District (FSD) students perform after 11 years of an FSD education.
According to the ACT test administered to 217 Ferndale High School (FHS) juniors, only 30% of them were proficient in reading, 43% in English, 23% math, and 17% science. Put another way, our children are 30-45% less prepared for college and their futures than the average Oakland County student--to say nothing of international competition.
FHS is doing an especially poor job of educating its black students. The district loudly boasts about its diversity in its literature, district reports, and web site, but is less sanguine regarding the academic performance of the high school's black students, many of whom are out-of-district students contributing more to the district's revenue than its academic proficiency.
In the same report mentioned above, white students out-perform black students in reading, math, science, social studies, and writing by 278%, 760%, 760%, 239%, and 310% respectively. Those numbers are so dramatic every voter in the FSD should demand an explanation from the school board. Voters should also hope the state committed a huge error collecting the data, and that the margin of error is equally large.
Without another explanation, voters are left to extrapolate the district's intentions from the evidence. The two most damning pieces of data betraying the administration's objectives are the 46% of out-of-district students worth nearly $1.5 million annually, and the grossly disparate academic proficiency between the two demographics just in the high-school.
The numbers suggest the reason the board of education and administration want a $23 million bond to maintain school buildings with twice the needed capacity is so they can protect or increase the district's $1.5 million annual revenue stream from out-of-district students (1205 from Detroit alone). A revenue stream so compelling the district considered spending $8 million on the contaminated Hayes-Lemmerz property so it may be converted into an adult-education and charter-school campus capable of housing even more out-of-district students.
The longer voters look at the numbers, the easier it is to reject the school bond, and even easier to reject the school board and the superintendent.
Don't just vote, "No," on Tuesday--vote "Heck no." And let's begin an honest, open dialog about how our school district may be right-sized, re-purposed, and re-committed to the task of preparing our community's children for the future.
Voting no is the responsible vote.