Letter: Voting 'No' and 'Yes"

To the editor:

Independent School District 197 has recurrently struggled with the challenge of improving academic performance of students enrolled in district schools.

For example, based on 2012 ranking results from the new Minnesota Multiple Measurement Rating system for South-Metro Schools: among 18 S-M high schools, Henry Sibley Senior High ranks four from the bottom for both the MMR and the Focus Rating systems; Heritage Middle School ranks fifth from the bottom among the bottom 5 S-M middle schools in MMR ratings; and Garlough has the lowest ranking amont the bottom 5 S-M elementary schools in both MMR and FR ratings.

This record of performance raises questions as to whether approval of these referenda will improve academic achievement of district students.

From this perspective, question 2 (funding an Early Learning Center) merits unequivocal support. There is ample evidence that early childhood education positions students for both academic achievement and later success in life.

In the contrast, the likely impact of the Technology Levy (question 1) on improving academic achievement is highly questionable. Studies by Straker and colleagues of the use of both desktop and table computers in K-12 reveal mixed results at best, with marginal and inconsistent effects on student academic achievement, accompanies by persistent sutdent musculoskeletal problems.

Considering its marginal past performance, ISD 197 should consider strategies with definitive returns on investment for improving student achievement. The Technology Levy is not such a strategy, and should be rejected by voters.

Thomas J. Smith
Mendota Heights


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