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Letter’s to the Editor 4-13-22

To the Editor:

I am surprised by Wisconsin school district proficiency ratings, especially in our local school districts (SD).

The website, https://will-law.org/school-scorecard, summarizes information about the schools throughout the USA which shows the “Spending per Student,” “DPI Report Card Rating, “% Change in Spending,” Community % Proficiency,” “Community Student Enrollment,” ACT Scores, and enrollment categories.”  The proficiency for the local schools in Dunn County hover around 40% in Math and ELA (English, Language, Arts).  I would have expected this to be higher.  It would be nice if our local schools would publicize (at a future school board meeting) the proficiency ratings comparing recent proficiency ratings to the last 50 years or at least the last 25 years (maybe in increments of 5 or 10 years).  Has it always been around 40%?  How is the proficiency ratings calculated, or what is the proficiency ratings based on – which text scores?  Is it true that the way that the proficiency scores are calculated has been altered (lowered) over the years to make the schools look better?

The most alarming statistic I found dealt with the Milwaukee SD.  The proficiency wasn’t even at 20% before Covid but dropped significantly to under 10% during Covid.  Our schools in Dunn County fared much better during Covid as the proficiency only dropped about a percent or two during Covid. 

In the Milwaukee SD, 16% of its revenue comes from the Federal government compared to between 5 to 7 percent for Dunn County SD.

Another interesting factor was the enrollment numbers.  Most of the Dunn County SD had a drop in enrollment this last year.  Enrollment in the Boyceville SD dropped 5% since the previous year; Colfax 6%, Glenwood City 3%, and Menomonie 6%.  I am assuming that more parents are homeschooling. 

Many students were classified as low-income in the Dunn County SD – 48% in Boyceville SD, 48% in Colfax, 40% in Glenwood City, 44% of the Menomonie SD and 86% in Milwaukee SD.

JoAnn Utphall

Boyceville

To the Editor:

Regarding the frog survey in Dunn County, we were recently asked about our participation in Wisconsin’s Frog and Toad Survey. More specifically, the question was: “Why did we volunteer and why did we keep at it over the years?” 

Here is our answer:

In early to mid 1990s, we became aware of serious problems facing amphibians on a global scale. There was evidence, for example, of frog deformities as well as the documented extinction of Costa Rica’s famous Golden Toad (1989) due to climate change.

So we were naturally curious with what was happening to amphibians in the Dunn County area. Fortunately the Wisconsin DNR had already set up a frog and toad survey to take advantage of what we now call “citizen science.”

In over 25 years of participation, we have noted that if there are warm nights and plenty of moisture in the ponds and wetlands, we see generally healthy populations of Peepers, Chorus Frogs, and Wood Frogs in the earliest survey run in the spring, and Eastern Grey Tree Frogs, Green Frogs and American Toads in the summer run. 

The two frogs we should be hearing but are not are the Leopard Frogs and Bull Frogs, and we don’t know quite why. Housing developments, wetland drainage, and large-scale farming are possible explanations.

So why do we keep at it?

There is deep satisfaction in knowing, year by year, that our little friends are still there and still making their music every spring and summer. Listening to that music of frog calls on a warm spring evening tells us that nature’s health — at least for now — is thriving.

Without surveys like this that could document environmental problems combined with indifference to what’s going on in the natural world, we could lose our frogs without noticing. If that should come to pass … “Our springtime will echo with silence and the human heart will know something is missing — but it will be too late.”  — Rod Sayer 

Jim Eggert (Colfax)

Mark Mosey (Colfax) 

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