Letter: Strong schools ensure student success by Jeff Becker
I am proud to call Rhinelander my hometown. I graduated from RHS in 2005 and attended UW-Madison, receiving my bachelor’s degree in economics in 2009 and a graduate certificate in geographic information systems in 2010. I am writing because a “yes” vote on Feb. 19 will preserve the integrity of the Rhinelander schools, avoiding cuts to teachers, electives, activities and athletics. It is my belief that academics were only one factor in my admission to UW-Madison. It was also my participation in electives such as band, foreign language and AP classes as well as activities and athletics including jazz band, National Honor Society, Math Club, soccer, basketball and baseball that helped me gain acceptance to UW-Madison.
The admissions office at UW-Madison states, “We focus first on academic excellence-courses, grades and test scores. Beyond academics, we look for qualities such as leadership, concern for others and the community, and achievement in the arts, athletics, and other areas. We’re also seeking diversity in personal background and experience and your potential for contribution to the Wisconsin community.” If the referendum fails, the school district will have to eliminate the very things that University of Wisconsin system schools require to set applicants apart. Current and future students in Rhinelander will no longer be competitive when they look to move on to higher education.
Along with preparing students for college, a good school system brings people to a community. In the past few weeks, I have read many letters written by community members new to Rhinelander stressing how important a strong school district was to their relocation decision. I have read how important a strong school district is for attracting new business to a community. A school district serves the community in many ways – a look at the district webpage shows how important the schools and their activities are to a healthy community. I understand that Wisconsin’s school funding formula is broken. This is something that needs to be fixed and hopefully over time it will be, but until then, the survival of Rhinelander as a positive and forward-moving district is at stake.
We may not agree on who should be governor or president.We may not even agree on the best lake to go fishing, but I think we all should agree that Rhinelander needs a school district that stands out, prepares kids for their futures, and attracts people and businesses to Rhinelander.
Jeff Becker, Rhinelander