Letter to the Editor

Expressing a concern with graduation rates

Sunday, June 8, 2008

To the Editor:

At the school board meeting last Thursday, Superintendent Schroeder addressed the graduation rate of our corporation. He stated that over the past ten years, we have had less than 400 students drop out of our schools. According to Indiana Dept. of Education data on their website, I have confirmed that. He and our two high school principals offered explanations as to why students fail to graduate, such as being short on credits, failing the Graduation Qualifying Examination, and graduating at another time or by another method that the state doesn't add back into our numbers.

As steps were taken at the school board meeting to address the graduation rate that I had mentioned in The Brazil Times, I must conclude that someone misinterpreted my statement that "over thirteen years, about 1,000 fail to graduate" to mean these students dropped out. I write quite literally and try to say exactly what I mean. When I write these letters, I try to get my point across in 500 words so there are times when I do not go into detail.

I have been very vocal in my concern over education and how the corporation's money is spent. I will continue to do so as the education of our children is their future and affects our community. But, do not be confused, the corporation and I have the same goal, to educate as many as possible to the highest-level possible. I disagree with how some of the money is spent as I see ways that it could be used better for education. For instance, at the last school board meeting, an irrigation system was mentioned briefly. Apparently, if I heard correctly, someone has volunteered to donate that to the corporation. My question is do we need it because grass doesn't teach. Where is the money going to come from for the water and couldn't that money contribute to education more if used elsewhere?

Dr. Schroeder also stated that the corporation does "more with less money" and he is absolutely correct. That doesn't mean that we should "splurge" on unnecessary things like replacing things that are still functional like toilet fixtures because they aren't new during renovations, an unnecessary gym, or paying teachers to teach classes that are not required for any of our diplomas to one student. Our school board should be aware of these things as they approve the budget and are made aware of what is being recommended. They do have the opportunity to question.

As with most bureaucracies, our school corporation can get off track when people put their own agendas before the mission of the organization. Things start getting done that have little to do with the mission because someone holds an opinion that there is a need and no one asks for logical, rational proof that there is a need. Dr. Schroeder stated in the meeting that the school board had been "frugal". Most of my concern is in keeping things that way while maximizing education.

Leo L. Southworth,