Anoka/Hennepin School Levy: Yes or No?

Anoka/Hennepin School Levy: Yes or No?

Created by Gary Keillors Nightmare on Oct 9, 2007

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Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#1 Oct 9, 2007
Just remember to vote. Being that the A/H district is the largest employer in Anoka County (built-in votes), has carte blanche and virtually unchallenged coverage for it's propaganda in the press and is bombarding our students and parents and nearly every turn... defeating this measure will not be a slam dunk by any means.

I recently attended a talk given by the superintendant, Dr. Giroux, and was caught a bit off-guard by how arrogant and condescending he came across.

He didn't win me over.
Becky

Saint Paul, MN

#2 Oct 11, 2007
Let me guess, you don't have children who attend district 11 schools?
Carolb

Saint Paul, MN

#3 Oct 11, 2007
There are TEACHERS, good ones, I personally know, whose very careers are hanging in the balance here. Further, do people realize that if the levy doesn't pass, it further weakens their property values? Also, do you want to send your kids to charter schools, whose "teachers" lack anywhere near the accreditation that public school teachers possess, and in which it has been proven students do not do as well on achievement tests? There is a disconnect between people's pocketbooks and their minds.

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#4 Oct 12, 2007
Becky wrote:
Let me guess, you don't have children who attend district 11 schools?
Wrong answer Becky. All of my children are enrolled in AH schools.

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#5 Oct 12, 2007
Carolb wrote:
There are TEACHERS, good ones, I personally know, whose very careers are hanging in the balance here. Further, do people realize that if the levy doesn't pass, it further weakens their property values? Also, do you want to send your kids to charter schools, whose "teachers" lack anywhere near the accreditation that public school teachers possess, and in which it has been proven students do not do as well on achievement tests? There is a disconnect between people's pocketbooks and their minds.
Some of those teachers might be good teachers. That's not the point. A number of them might not be neccessary. The school system has become so bloated and out of touch with reality that those on the inside lack coomon sense in how to solve their "funding" issues. The knee-jerk reaction is always to stick their hand out to ask for more money from the taxpayers.

The fear mongering that is being waged by Anoka/Hennepin is off the charts. Children have been sent home with propaganda nearly on a daily starting last spring. At orientation night, this topic was the central theme, "we need more money, schools are going to close, class sizes are going to increase, etc."

Have you ever taken a serious look at the AH high school course offerings? It looks a college registration guide. Here's a sample:

Here are some of the courses that are offered at our high school:

Green House Management
Futuristics (awareness of rapid changes in today's world and involvement in creating a positive future)
Child Care Occupations
Outdoor Adventures (develop stewardship for the environment)
Nineteen different English classes not including six ESL English classes
China/Russia Studies
Fish & Wildlife Management (taxidermy optional)
38 different science classes
Aviation Careers
Aeronautics
Aerobics
Aerobics & Strength Training I & II
Girls Recreational Lifetime Skills (individal and team sports with emphasis on young women's issues and growth)
Power Volleyball I, II & III
Sports & Fitness Training Careers
Strength Training & Conditioning I, II & III
Team Sports
Individual Sports (fishing, bocce ball, table tennis, horseshoes, etc.)

Is it really the job of the high school's to offer such specialized instruction? No. Their job is to provide the students an opportunity to achieve a basic education foundation and skill set. Tech schools and colleges are the proper places for individual and specialized studies.

Madeline

Andover, MN

#6 Oct 15, 2007
Governor Pawlenty's own education goals want children in MN high school's to have a full year of college credit before leaving High school. This would include classes in AP and IB. What kind of classes do you think prepare our kids to get into college? The state graduation requirements for college are very clear. There are 7 electives required. Many of those electives are in the arts and world language areas. This levy if it fails, would drastically reduce the number and type of offerings for students.
Let's give the students of Anoka Hennepin a chance to succeed in life by offering the classes to help them get ahead not start out their future behind.

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#7 Oct 15, 2007
It's not the public school district's job to provide micro-specialized career training to the students. Likewise, it is not their job to provide a year of college credit to high school students. Post-secondary education is a choice that should not be mandated. There's an incorrect presumption that every kid in high school should go to college. Not every high schooler is going to go to college, nor should they. It doesn't matter how much money and social engineering you throw at them . There are plenty of successful people that never set foot in a university. There's also plenty of college grads that probably would have been better off with a different path. I'm not discounting the value of furthering one's education via college, I'm merely pointing out that that college isn't for everyone.

Madeline, you asked the question about the kinds of classes that prepare kids for college? Again, not everyone should go to college based on any number of variables. What kinds of classes did our schools offer in years past? Certainly not the unnecessary amount of micro-specialized classes that have now been deemed as indispensable by some but we still sent plenty of students on to college.
AH parents

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Oct 15, 2007
We completely agree.... we just can't afford it!!!!
Bobke

Inver Grove Heights, MN

#9 Oct 17, 2007
Oh, don't worry. Those HS courses will be the first to go. Then will come FACS classes, Industrial Tech, World Languages...all just a small dent.

Then will come cuts that will mean not 34 kids in a class (a college classmate of mine teaches in AH)...it will mean 40+. Imagine over 40 seventh graders in a classroom that can barely house the 34 kids currently in it. It will happen.
andrews

Saint Paul, MN

#10 Oct 18, 2007
I find it appalling that you would consider a wide range of course offerings an example of sub-standard education. I also find it appalling that you obviously don't know how these course offerings work. These courses are only offered if there is a sufficient number of students who register. No students, no course. Many are electives, yes, but they are electives REQUIRED by the state for a BASIC diploma. Under your plan, high school juniors and seniors would get a "one size fits all" plan--whether they are going to tech school or an ivy league university.
Seeing a transcript from our high schools would put these students at the bottom of the list for acceptance into these schools and for scholarships from them.
Even so, cutting these courses will only result in a small amount of change in the budget for the school district. Pick an area where you feel there is waste... don't just trim it, but cut it completely... you save 2 million. Now look around for the other 40. In a district as lean as ours, you will not be able to cut just "fat".
You will, out of necessity, be cutting into the "basics" that you feel should be taught. And shame on you for just wanting the basics. Our schools should not just be basic. Under your plan we would have no honors programs, no international baccalaureate programs, no music, art, and PE in the grade schools, huge classes, massive fees for athletics, complete boundary changes, 10-12 schools closing, 500 teachers fired--This is a far cry from the basics.
You would cut programs that people on both sides of the political isle say are necessary for excellent schools.
The fact is, Anoka schools do a far better job of educating kids with far less than most districts in the state. Just visit a school. They are not failing our kids. They are doing a great job with incredible odds. The district is constantly looking for ways to improve, streamline, and teach what is necessary for success beyond high school. The district is not asking for the funds to add massive programs or buildings. They just want to maintain and build upon the successes of the past.
I find it extremely ironic that those of us who were angry at the U.S. congress this summer for claiming to "support" the troops by attempting to cut off funds for the war in Iraq would talk like this about our schools.
You don't think you could go through the military spending and find an area that you might consider to be unnecessary? Let's send a message and cut their budget by 20 percent and see how effective they will be. Cutting funding would be the wrong way to send a message to our troops, and it's the wrong way to send a message to our schools.
Don't make the mistake of thinking the district is bluffing. They are not begging for extras, they are asking to keep working hard with what they have had in the past.
Please don't claim to "support" our students and teachers and then vote NO. Just be honest. You don't want our schools to be successful. Just like the Democrats in congress, you've invested too much in their failure. Next fall, as you send your child or grandchild off to a different, overcrowded school that offers "the basics", please remember to spend that $36 per month wisely.

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#11 Oct 18, 2007
Andrew,
I'll continue this discussion when I have more time.

For now I'll just ask this question of you: what is your relationshio with AH school district?
andrews

Minneapolis, MN

#12 Oct 18, 2007
I am a teacher and a citizen in the school district, which makes me more than qualified to know what is really going on here. I will be paying the extra taxes too, but I see every day what they pay for--by the way, its not "fluff."

We have started some very good things for our students since the last levy was passed, we've done a good job, and we have more to do. I can say with confidence that A-H students are getting a better education than they were 5 or even 10 years ago. We are asking the public to help us keep working and pushing forward.

My position as a classroom teacher gives me the credibility to say that I know with a high degree of certainty that the district is NOT bluffing, and that we will NOT be getting a windfall of funds with a yes vote. We will be getting the funds to maintain what we have been doing for the past five years.

I will not be losing my job if these cuts go through, but I will watch all of the advances we have made in the past five years simply collapse. I see this vote as a crossroad for Anoka.

My students will not get the attention they need. They will just get a "one size fits all" delivery. If they are slower, tough. If they are advanced, tough. They get the minimum.

Like the soldier on the front lines, I am asking you to just help us do our job the best way we know how.

You can't say you support us and then vote to keep us from doing our job.

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#13 Oct 18, 2007
I had a rather lengthy response that took me some time to put together but unfortunately it appears to have been lost. I will try to put it back together as my memory and time allows me too.

1.) I'm not surprised that you are an AH district employee as your responses have been nearly verbatim from a lot of the levy material and/or parroting of the words from
Dr. Giroux/Denny Carlson. Actually my question was somewhat rhetorical as I did suspect you were employed by AH.

2.) Granted you may have a perspective that others may not have on this subject. But with that in mind, you also must acknowledge that along with your position comes an inherent bias.

3.) Please go back and find any post or comment of mine that accused AH of providing a "sub-standard" education. For that matter, show me where I said that the elective offerings were an example of "sub-standard" education. You are welcome to your opinion but not welcome to twist my words or intentions.

4.) Okay, I will assume that the electives are offered on a demand basis and will be taught if the demand is there... how many of these courses are actually not taught? If the courses are offered as part of the curriculum, they have to be actually accounted for and budgeted with the assumption that they will be taught, correct? What percentage of these electives don't have the demand to see the classroom?

5.) The attempt to parallel the war and the levy is an absurd non-sequitir and I won't dignify it with a response.

6.) We opened a new high school in the district fairly recently. Now we are being threatened with a high school being closed. Seriously, how is that possible? Who is accountable for this poor planning and budgeting?

7.) Will the teachers and the union be willing to have their pay cut in the common interest of it being "for the students"? I'm not talking about reductions in the rate of contracted annual pay increases.... I'm talking about actual salary reductions. I'm also not talking about teahcers that would be new to the district. Would you or anyone else do this for the altruistic purpose of the welfare of the students?

More to come..........

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#14 Oct 18, 2007
8.) Besides the free press given in each ABC weekly, how much money has the district earmarked for the levy promotion?

9.) How many students are here for the IB program that are not residents of the district?

Since: Oct 07

South of here but this is home

#15 Oct 18, 2007
Test. A I apologize for this but the server seems to be doing funky things.
tim

Minneapolis, MN

#16 Oct 18, 2007
If the elective courses you listed are unneeded then why should we have the sports? Why are they need for basic education? We could save money by cancelling the sports budget. No need to have teaching positions for phy-ed or coaching. No athletic field maintenance. They are not needed for basic education.

Lets decide for the children and their families what opportunities they should have. Oh yeah, that's right we are not supposed to be communists.
andrews

Minneapolis, MN

#17 Oct 18, 2007
Here are my responses

1. My experience in the district tells me that Denny Carslon and Dr. Giroux are presenting the facts. I believe their motives are honest. I have worked with Denny personally on a number of occasions, and I trust that what he and Dr. Giroux say in this matter is the truth. I know that they would much rather be about the business of trying to improve curriculum and instruction rather than talking about the levy. THEY ARE NOT BLUFFING.

2. My position as an AH teacher gives me experience, credibility, and knowledge. I have a greater knowledge of what the district will look like if this does not pass. True, a no vote means my classroom will be different and my job will be more difficult and less satisfying—but I will survive. I will be one of the lucky ones who has a job. More importantly, however, is the fact that I already have a high school diploma, and it can’t be taken away. I fear mostly for the students and parents in the district who will be getting a diploma in the years to come and what that will mean. Of course I have a bias—I am close to the action. I am directly involved. I am a credible witness. If I thought we could do this without a yes vote, I would tell you.

3. Sub-standard was the wrong term, my apologies. You seemed to imply that those courses were fluff, unnecessary, and/or part of a “bloated” curriculum. My original argument about the electives is still valid. The students of A-H need not all go to college or tech school, but don’t you think they should all be ready? Do you want it to be their choice, or do you want it to be because their schooling was not adequate? What’s wrong with being able to say “I went to Anoka High School,” and have it mean that they were given excellent opportunities and a well-rounded course offering?

4. The numbers change each year, but the offerings are based on enrollment and registration. If there is not enough enrollment, the course is not offered. That is why high school students begin to register in January: so all of these things can be put in place BEFORE the hiring of teachers. Most of time, teachers just shift courses. The existing PE teachers teach the PE electives. Those teachers that are not needed fill other open positions in other schools, or are let go. In other words, it’s fairly easy to predict how many students will take PE electives, but not so easy to predict which electives the students will choose. I suggest you call a high school counselor if you want some hard numbers.

5. My attempt to parallel the funding for the war and the funding for A-H is extremely relevant. I am tired of people proclaiming their “support” for teachers and students and then telling me that I am just parroting propaganda, a puppet of the union, too biased, just looking out for myself—you name it.“We like you,” they say,“but you can’t tell me what’s really going on in your school—we know better than you do.” I hear a lot of the same thing from the anti-war crowd when a soldier or senior military official gets up and speaks about the importance of the war effort.“He’s just a puppet of the administration,”“He’s getting paid to say that,”“He couldn’t speak up if he wanted to,”“I support our troops, I just want them to come home.” I’ll say it once again: Don’t claim to support teachers and students and vote against renewing the levy.
andrews

Minneapolis, MN

#18 Oct 18, 2007
6. The planning and operation of new high school was based on two things: A vote from the public to commit to an operating levy, and an assumption that the funding from the state would keep up with inflation. The vote for the operating levy was approved, but the inflationary increases did not come. If that’s poor planning, then so be it. By the way, we will be voting to continue the original levy with an increase for inflation (question 1) and then to give the board authority to levy more if the state does not provide inflationary increases in the future (question 2). It sounds like they have learned their lesson. The district is asking to keep things as they are. A no vote would mean that your taxes would go DOWN because you are putting the district back to the funding levels of six years ago.
7. You know the answer to this one. I would personally take a cut to see this pass. If it does pass, I will take home less anyway; I will be paying more taxes ☺. I am in favor of reforming the salary system, but this is the wrong way to send that message.
8. I cannot give you a figure; one dollar is too much in my opinion, but what would you suggest they do? The original levy was for five years—now it has to be renewed. Let’s just pretend for a moment that they are telling the truth—would you have them inform no one? The only reason they send information about the levy is because people would not know otherwise (and it’s required by law). 6 years ago, when they cut 100 teachers, the public outcry was huge. The school board was blasted for not informing the public of what would happen if people voted no. Now they are telling us what WILL happen, and people say they are fear mongering. This whole thing would not be happening if the school board had the authority to levy without a public vote like a city council or a county. If we don’t want the school board to have that authority, we are going to have to live with the school district “promoting” a levy every five or ten years.
9. None—The IB program was put on hold until after the public votes to on the levy. The funds will not exist for a program if levy questions one and two do not pass. As far as I know, the IB program, if it ever exists, will be for District 11 students only—unless state open enrollment laws apply.
By the way, I no longer going to argue about the credibility of the district leaders. As a district employee, I don’t agree with all of the decisions that are made by the leadership, but I have no reason to doubt their honesty or sincerity. If you are just going to choose to believe that they are bluffing, fear mongering, propagandizing or just lying, there is nothing I can do to change your mind except offer my experience and testimony. I have done this already.
We need questions one and two to continue make progress in our classrooms
We need question 4 to update our technology
No one is bluffing. no one is lying.
andrews

Minneapolis, MN

#19 Oct 18, 2007
6. The planning and operation of a new high school was based on two things: A vote from the public to commit to an operating levy, and an assumption that the funding from the state would keep up with inflation. The vote for the operating levy was approved, but the inflationary increases did not come. If that’s poor planning, then so be it. By the way, we will be voting to continue the original levy with an increase for inflation (question 1) and then to give the board authority to levy more if the state does not provide inflationary increases in the future (question 2). The district is asking to keep things as they are. A no vote would mean that your taxes would go DOWN because you are putting the district back to the funding levels of five years ago.

7. You know the answer to this one. I would personally take a cut to see this pass. If it does pass, I will take home less anyway; I will be paying more taxes ☺. I am in favor of reforming the salary system, but this is the wrong way to send that message.

8. I cannot give you a figure; one dollar is too much in my opinion, but what would you suggest they do? The original levy was for five years—now it has to be renewed. Let’s just pretend for a moment that they are telling the truth—would you have them inform no one? The only reason they send information about the levy is because people would not know otherwise (and it’s required by law). 6 years ago, when they cut 100 teachers, the public outcry was huge. The school board was blasted for not informing the public of what would happen if people voted no. Now they are telling us what WILL happen, and people say they are fear mongering. This whole thing would not be happening if the school board had the authority to levy without a public vote like a city council or a county. If you don’t want the school board to have that authority, you are going to have to live with the school district “promoting” a levy every five or ten years.

9. None—The IB program was put on hold until the vote on the levy. The funds will not exist for a program if levy questions one and two do not pass. As far as I know, the IB program, if it ever exists, will be for District 11 students only—unless state open enrollment laws apply.

By the way, I no longer going to argue about the credibility of the district leaders. As a district employee, I don’t agree with all of the decisions that are made by the leadership, but I have no reason to doubt their honesty or sincerity. If you are just going to choose to believe that they are bluffing, fear mongering, propagandizing or just lying, there is nothing I can do to change your mind except offer my experience and testimony. I have done this already.

We need questions one and two to continue make progress in our classrooms

We need question 4 to update our technology

No one is bluffing. no one is lying.
andrews

Minneapolis, MN

#20 Oct 18, 2007
Here are my responses

1. My experience in the district tells me that Denny Carslon and Dr. Giroux are presenting the facts. I believe their motives are honest. I have worked with Denny personally on a number of occasions, and I trust that what he and Dr. Giroux say in this matter is the truth. I know that they would much rather be about the business of trying to improve curriculum and instruction rather than talking about the levy. THEY ARE NOT BLUFFING.

2. My position as an AH teacher gives me experience, credibility, and knowledge. I have a greater knowledge of what the district will look like if this does not pass. True, a no vote means my classroom will be different and my job will be more difficult and less satisfying—but I will survive. I will be one of the lucky ones who has a job. More importantly, however, is the fact that I already have a high school diploma, and it can’t be taken away. I fear mostly for the students and parents in the district who will be getting a diploma in the years to come and what that will mean. Of course I have a bias—I am close to the action. I am directly involved. I am a credible witness. If I thought we could do this without a yes vote, I would tell you.

3. Sub-standard was the wrong term, my apologies. You seemed to imply that those courses were fluff, unnecessary, and/or part of a “bloated” curriculum. My original argument about the electives is still valid. The students of A-H need not all go to college or tech school, but don’t you think they should all be ready? Do you want it to be their choice, or do you want it to be because their schooling was not adequate? What’s wrong with being able to say “I went to Anoka High School,” and have it mean that they were given excellent opportunities and a well-rounded course offering?

4. The numbers change each year, but the offerings are based on enrollment and registration. If there is not enough enrollment, the course is not offered. That is why high school students begin to register in January: so all of these things can be put in place BEFORE the hiring of teachers. Most of time, teachers just shift courses. The existing PE teachers teach the PE electives. Those teachers that are not needed fill other open positions in other schools, or are let go. In other words, it’s fairly easy to predict how many students will take PE electives, but not so easy to predict which electives the students will choose. I suggest you call a high school counselor if you want some hard numbers.

5. My attempt to parallel the funding for the war and the funding for A-H is extremely relevant. I am tired of people proclaiming their “support” for teachers and students and then telling me that I am just parroting propaganda, a puppet of the union, too biased, just looking out for myself—you name it.“We like you,” they say,“but you can’t tell me what’s really going on in your school—we know better than you do.” I hear a lot of the same thing from the anti-war crowd when a soldier or senior military official gets up and speaks about the importance of the war effort.“He’s just a puppet of the administration,”“He’s getting paid to say that,”“He couldn’t speak up if he wanted to,”“I support our troops, I just want them to come home.” I’ll say it once again: Don’t claim to support teachers and students and vote against renewing the levy.

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