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Leave Lake Orion, and other on track school districts, alone

November 28, 2012 - Anybody who has an interest in Michigan's public education system knows there are school districts in this state that are struggling mightily and others that are doing a commendable job preparing our young people for the future. While the Lake Orion Community Schools are not perfect, I think the vast majority of families and students in this area would agree our district falls in the latter category.

Gov. Rick Snyder's education overhaul proposal would mandate "any time, any place, any way and at any pace" learning. This would take significant control away from Lake Orion educators and our Board of Education members who know our kids, this community and its needs much better than the folks in Lansing. We elected the Board to make the right, sometimes tough, decisions to keep our schools at the top of their game and financially viable. Let them do their jobs. The Governor's ideas are misguided – he should be directing his radical plans toward the districts that really need help. Not ours.

Just last week, the College Board honored Lake Orion Community Schools as one of only 539 districts across the country (39 in Michigan) to make the Advanced Placement District Honor Roll for increasing student access to AP classes while maintaining the percentage of students achieving passing AP exam scores. Juniors taking the Michigan Merit Exam annually outperform Oakland County and state averages in all tested subject areas. The average ACT score of 2012 graduates was more than two points higher than the state average. MEAP scores (grades 3-8)ranked in the Top Ten among 28 districts in Oakland County in reading, science, social studies, math and writing in 2011. Is there room for continual improvement? Absolutely and I think our local district will succeed in achieving this.

In June, I attended my oldest daughter's Honors Convocation at Lake Orion High School. I was amazed at the broad range of institutions, including Stanford, Notre Dame, Michigan, West Point and Ivy League schools, as well as other quality private and public universities and colleges in the state, that accepted our students and awarded many of them merit scholarships for their academic achievements. Our kids were competing for freshman spots and financial resources against tens of thousands of other applicants from around the world and came out on top.

When I moved to Lake Orion in 1982, our high school was not accredited. That is when this district could have used state guidance and direction. Since then, Lake Orion Community Schools have become a model for other districts across Michigan. Following a consistent, state-mandated core curriculum makes sense, but giving up control of how and when our students learn is not in our community's best interest. Leave Lake Orion alone, as well as other school districts in our state that are on the right track. In fact, Gov. Snyder maybe you could learn something from them – what works in the real world - rather than pushing your big ideas with few details or little accountability down our throats.

Joe St. Henry

Orion Resident

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