From the Principals' Desks - Dear Families
Sunday, October 03, 2010 10:20 PM


Dear Families:


It is that wonderful time of year when the windows are open and Lake Harriet Upper Campus students and staff can hear the South West High School Band and football or soccer game announcers. The students have settled back into the school routines and most of the bus issues are being worked through.


For those of you with eighth graders, it may seem early to think about your child moving onto high school, but this is the start of sorting out which high school best fits your child. The MPS will once again hold high school tours during the school day instead of shadowing. These will be coordinated through the district and our middle school counselor, Antonio Tyson. Our students will go by bus to the school of their choice, participate in a small program at the high school, and bus back to Lake Harriet. Also, high school open houses have been scheduled and will be posted on the district web site. The week of November 15th has a religious conflict. Families that will be affected by that should call the high school they are interested in to obtain missed information. There will also be high school transition meetings held in the evenings. Watch the district web page for locations and times which should be posted in the next few weeks.


Our students in second through eighth grade have been working through the first round of MAP testing. This is an important baseline information tool teachers use to identify math and/or reading strands in which your child may need reinforcement, and it is also used to measure growth. Test results will be individually discussed during conferences as you and your child’s teacher build a learning plan specific to your child. We want a year’s growth for all children. If MAP scores show your child is high performing, conference discussions should center on strategies to challenge and engage your child.


As the movie “Waiting For Superman” opens locally and across the nation, many healthy discussions about public education will follow. We know that the reality in today’s school systems is considerably more complex and challenging than can be accurately and thoroughly portrayed in a 90-minute film. But, we are pleased that the public attention continues to be drawn to the challenges and needs of America’s education system.  While it is important to examine the challenges that exist in the public education system, which this film does, we must not merely criticize the system. Rather, we must use the challenges we find to continue a dialogue about how to ensure that every student can succeed.

While controversial, the new film is an important reminder of what is important to parents. It should trigger continued debate about how we can improve the quality of teaching and student support systems in our schools, so every family is confident in the education we provide, the choices they make, and their prospects for the future.  Substantial work still needs to be done to enhance student achievement, turn around our schools which are chronically low-performing, adjust our collective bargaining agreements to meet today’s challenges, strengthen our teacher and staff evaluation systems, and give all our urban children full access to a successful future.

          “Waiting for Supermansays important things about the challenges of the public education system. However, the reductive messaging – “charters are good” and “teachers unions are bad” – oversimplifies complicated issues and threatens to thwart, collaborative thoughtful discussions about improving public schools. Improving public education is a shared responsibility; parents, teachers, administrators, students and the community must come together to make our schools great.

We commend the film’s call to action on behalf of our public schools. We believe open dialogue about how educators, families and citizens can and must work collaboratively to ensure the success of every student and every public school is critical to our success.  We need to look for elements of success in both traditional and charter schools and then apply what we learn to struggling schools.

          Finally, I want to take a moment to thank all of you for the wonderful support network we have here at Lake Harriet; the endless work of the PTA, the members of Site Council, the classroom volunteers, Community Education and all the quality time our parents devote to working with the students.  We also have an exceptional staff that holds themselves to a high level of professionalism, goes the extra mile for the kids on their own time, and continuously works to improve their craft. At Lake Harriet Community School your children are receiving a competitive education, proven by our test scores which rival the most prestigious public school districts in the state of Minnesota. Public education is evolving, as it always has been, to continually meet the needs of a changing America and a competitive world. It is this teamwork between family and school that has kept the trust and quality of our program as the roots of our community.


Mary Rynchek