Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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Tales from Normal, Mn. Headline News---FICTION

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Normal, Mn. Goes Virtual: Keeps Sports;Keeps Special Ed: Fires Teachers----FICTION

Well it has been just a little bit unsettling...living in a time warp where institutions, school, state, and federal government keep mouthing about just cutting the "fat" of expenses, all the while everyone knows that essential cuts are coming...when the stimulus ends....and the loud music ends and the sole piper is heard to play...

After reading the drama of a neighboring school district, Brodhead, Wi, where the school, facing a deficit, tried the old technique of threatening the sports funding, decided once the referendum failed, and over 80 students filed for open enrollment, that the best course would be to cut the teachers and keep the sports......I just wondered....

I rang up Herman, my old friend at Normal, Mn.. He was a lawyer and member of the Normal, Mn. school board...he must know. Normal was a small fishing town, just south of Garrison, Mn., and ...well...with the decline in tourism dollars....they were hurting....I wondered about their solution.

After I explained the situation, Herman let out a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks Wolfman (that's what he always called me) up here we are mostly fishermen, and we have gotten used to the sonar fishing locators and such, and the guys really do understand the magic of mobile computing. And--with the rapid improvement of these mobile devices, there is simply nowhere that a bass can hide in the weeds anymore...tech is really something up here."

Then he went on:

"Several years ago, facing the budget crisis, we decided that we would eliminate all the regular high school classes and go "virtual instruction." After all, most of the "cultural value" of the high school here was social skill, and the kids seem to be doing just fine without the classes, with all the email, cell phone, ipod touch, etc, etc. They were just knocking down high grades in "communication".

We just kept the special education classes in the regular classrooms, and of course, we kept all the sports. Mostly they are winter sports, and the only heating costs are the warming houses for hockey.

It has really worked out. We hired some of the teachers to run the virtual, as long as they could compete with other teacher equilavents around the world, such as India. There has been quite a saving.

What a shock. Cutting school but keeping sports.