Radical change is correct goal

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Impediments to reforming Beloit schools are no longer acceptable.

EVEN THOUGH HIS first day of work as Beloit's superintendent of schools won't be until this summer, Dr. Stanley Munro already is having an impact in the district.

He has been reviewing district problems and needs, and working on plans. Last week, with Munro's participation, members of the School District of Beloit Board of Education voted to move ahead with an administrative restructuring plan. Details of the proposal have not been made public, because the board says impacted personnel should be told first.

So we haven't seen the plan yet, and therefore have no opinion on its merits.

EXCEPT, THIS: Though Einstein may not actually have said it, the sentiment is right on - "the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different outcome."

The Beloit school district is a hot mess. Academically, the district ranks near the bottom among Wisconsin schools. Behaviorally, the schools endure near-constant issues that impede education. A couple years back the Beloit Daily News attended and covered an all-district "town hall" meeting, during which teachers pleaded with board members to take decisive action. Instead the board seemed more inclined to blame teachers for speaking out in public.

A subsequent Beloit Daily News investigation of the most serious disciplinary problems clearly showed the full impact of behavioral issues on teachers' ability to teach and the district's ability to succeed.

Meanwhile, the district has continued to bleed students both to private-school vouchers and to public-school choice. Look no further for proof than rising enrollments, year after year, at Beloit Turner schools. Likewise, good teachers have left in large numbers looking for better situations.

BELOIT DOES NOT NEED a gentle hand or a timid approach bent on not offending anybody. Beloit needs deep and, in a word, radical change. The status quo is not working.

As acknowledged, the Munro restructuring plan is an unknown. Odds are, the details will move somebody's cheese and there will be the usual wailing and whining.

Our recommendation: Plug your ears and move forward.

Done right, this change - at one stage or another - will shock and irritate almost everybody.

As a wag once said, though, "Everybody's for change. But most people define that as meaning you need to change and adopt my way of thinking."

Strap in, folks. If what's coming amounts to real change, the road ahead will get very bumpy. Beloit has become a community that attempts great things. It's time to drag the school district along.

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