west@bennettforoffice.org 715-619-4811 741 S. Liberty St. Fall Creek, WI 54742
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The Cold, Hard, Numbers

Why am I running for School Board? Some may be wondering. Well, as a parent with two beautiful children in the Fall Creek School District, I want the very BEST education for them, as I’m sure you all do as well. As Whitney said, “I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way.”

So, to me, it is IMPERATIVE that our children get the best possible education. I started this venture, this campaign, because I wanted a bigger say and a greater voice in my children’s schooling, and I could think of no better way for a parent to do so than to be on the board itself.

However, I started to second guess myself today, about a week and change before the election. Perhaps everything is fine, and nothing needs to change? Was I making a mistake in my running for School Board? Most importantly – how can we KNOW that our children are receiving the best education? The only way to do that is to look at the cold, hard, numbers. There is no other objective, logical way to measure such a thing. We can have all of the best feelings about our schools and our teachers, but those good feelings won’t help our children become productive and valued citizens out in the “real world”, if they don’t match up with reality.

When we are judging how our schools are doing, what better way, than by using a standard school grading system, wouldn’t you agree? Here’s what I’m going with, which is pretty standard for many school systems across the country, and allows a greater granularity than just the simple letter grades:

Now, where can I get some data from? Well, I think the best possible place to get that information would be from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction’s Accountability Report Cards. You can find their site, and get the data for yourself right here, it’s freely available for all Wisconsinites to view and download, either in PDF format, or in Excel format to do the number crunching, as I’ve done:

https://apps2.dpi.wi.gov/reportcards/

What I’ve done is taken the last five school years that we’ve had data for (excluding the 2019/2020 school year which is missing data for obvious reasons), and consolidated that data all to one Excel sheet for all of the Districts, and one Excel sheet for all of the schools. Below are the results for each of the last five school years, the average of the entire state of Wisconsin, and the average for the District/School. I also took those scores and applied the appropriate “grade” above to those scores. You can click the image to enlarge it, and I suggest you do so to see all of it.

Fall Creek School District

Fall Creek Schools

You can find the raw data that I collected for the districts here.

You can find the raw data that I collected for the individual schools here.

Let me start here by stating that I hold nothing but the highest respect for our teachers, for the teachers of the Fall Creek School District. They are some of the hardest working people I’ve ever seen. I can also see the passion and compassion in their faces and voices whenever we have our sessions together, or even when I see them interacting with the students around the school. These are GOOD people, working their hardest to do their damned best at educating our students.

What I found here when I looked into the data, frankly shocked and confused me. Wisconsin as a whole has abysmal ratings using a standard grading scale. I was extremely surprised to see that the entirety of the state has such low numbers that they can’t break even a basic “C”. Would we accept this report card from our own children as something to be proud of?

More shocking to me however, was Fall Creek’s record for the past few years. Fall Creek has been known in the past to be a fantastic school system, and still has that reputation publicly; it is “well known” as you may say. All that being said, these numbers seem to be contrary to this public notion. And I can’t reconcile that rationally with what I’ve heard and what I’ve personally experienced firsthand. If you look at the overall trend even in just the colors though, you can see that as the grade level goes up, the numbers appear to go down, so perhaps with my children being in the second grade, I’ve gotten to see the best that we have? I can’t say for sure.

What I can say for sure is my opinion, which is that I can’t accept a series of “Cs” and “Ds” as acceptable grades for the school my children go to. I want, and demand, better for them. The thing that bothers me most about this is that the state of Wisconsin states on their own report cards that these numbers either “Meet” or “Exceed Expectations”. Well I’m sorry, but they don’t meet or exceed my expectations for my own children. I want better for them, and for your own children.

I’m going to do whatever I can as a parent to ensure that our children have the best results possible. If I can be blessed to do it on the School Board, then I will much appreciate that opportunity and chance, and try to do my best for my fellow parents to turn these numbers around.

But if I don’t get elected? I’m not going to stop. I’m going to keep digging, keep pushing. I’m going to do what I’ve always done with every problem I’ve come against – take it apart piece by piece, understand and learn about the pieces, then figure out how to put them back together again, but better.

Because that’s what I do. That’s what I do in my professional life as a computer programmer, that’s what I do in my personal life as a husband and father, and that’s what I hope to do on the School Board, if my fellow citizens will vote me in.

I will fight, for all of us, and for all of our children. For our future.

Addendum

While typing up this article, a fellow concerned citizen who chose to remain anonymous contacted me and provided me with the document below, which I have not verified for its veracity. If this information is correct however, then it’s another source of data that shows that we have reasons to be concerned as parents about the current direction of the school:

Board Info Spring 2020

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