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Guest Opinion

Notes from CGB Superintendent Phil Grant

The Northern Star of Clinton, Minnesota

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Next week is American Education Week, so it's a good time to pause and consider how valuable education to our children, our community and our nation.

As Thomas Jefferson said, "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free... it expects what never was and will never be."

I agree with Jefferson, but I think he would be amazed and pleased to see how public education has grown in our country since his time. I believe public education is really the backbone of our democracy, given that more than 90% of students attend public schools.

Maintaining democracy and preparing students for life. Those are noble, worthwhile goals, and I'm proud to share them with everyone in the Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley school district.

We're fortunate here in CGB, where we have many dedicated employees working with our students every day. I'm referring, of course, to our teachers and paraprofessionals. But we also have other dedicated employees, who drive buses, prepare food, handle the office paperwork (OK, e-paperwork in many case) and make sure that all systems are go for providing the best possible education to every single one of our students.

I'm grateful to all of our district staff for all the good work they do. It's not always easy, but it's important work. Thus, with American Education Week on my mind, I want to express my gratitude to every employee of the district. Thank you, CGB staff!

Now that it's November, it's time to review and update our World's Best Workforce (WBWF) plan. WBWF was instituted by the legislature a couple of years ago, and CGB, like schools across Minnesota, uses it to guide our strategic thinking.

WBWF has five components: school readiness, third-grade literacy, closing the achievement gap, having all students graduate from high school, and having all students attain college and career preparedness. Today, I want to look at high school graduation rates.

At CGB, we typically graduate 100% of each class each year. There are occasionally exceptions, and most of those exceptions return as "super seniors" to finish up their final credits here or at another high school. The state of Minnesota pays for students to attend high school until they graduate or turn 21, whichever comes first — so we work hard to graduate everyone.

Our 100% rate must be the envy of many schools across the country. Contrast it with data from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), which found that the nation's grad rate hit 81 percent in 2012-2013. That's the highest level since states began using a new, uniform way of calculating grad rates five years ago.

Here in Minnesota, we've also hit a statewide 81% rate for students who graduate in four years, according to information on the Minnesota Department of Education website about the class of 2014. Another 11 % were listed as "continuing", so Minnesota's five-and six-year graduation rates are greater than 81%.

I'm glad that state and national grad rates are generally trending up, but I'm even more glad to be here at CGB. We have a strong district in a strong state for education.

If you have questions about what's happening in our school district, I'm happy to answer them. Please call or email me at the district office. I try to respond as quickly as possible, but as I am part-time, it may be a few days before I respond. Thanks, and have a great week!

Phil Grant

Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley Schools 320-325-5224 x204

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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015

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