Perspective by Bill Osmulski
(First published in the Edgerton Reporter on Nov. 8, 2023)
In 2020, the Edgerton School District took out a billboard ad bragging that it made the US News and World Report’s best high schools list. I thought that was really disingenuous, because practically every high school in the country is on that list. What really matters is your high school’s actual ranking. And so, at the time, I wrote a letter to the editor pointing out that US News and World Report ranked Edgerton High School 5,247th out of 17,792 high schools. Not exactly something you plaster on a billboard.
The school district, obviously feeling no shame nor pressure from my letter, has continued to buy billboard ads. This year it’s bragging that it made the list for the fourth time in a row. When I saw that, I figured it was time to revisit the rankings. What I discovered was maddening.
Edgerton High School currently ranks 6,971 out of 17,680. That means, over the course of four years, Edgerton High School dropped 1,724 spots in the national rankings. It gets worse. During that same period, proficiency rates dropped by nearly half. In 2020, the magazine found that 40% of Edgerton High School students were proficient in math, and 48% were proficient in reading. This year, only 21% are proficient in math and 27% in reading.
This isn’t just embarrassing. It’s outrageous, and that billboard should get everyone’s blood boiling. It’s a slap in the face. That billboard demonstrates that the district’s leadership does not take these problems seriously. Instead, it is trying to purposefully deceive the community about the true situation in the high school. Do they think they’re being cute, or are they simply trying to cover up their ineptitude? Did they really think that we wouldn’t figure this out? Regardless of the answers, this behavior is inexcusable, and it cannot be tolerated. Frankly, we need to clean house. That means voting out the school board and firing every administrator in the high school and district office. Their performance warrants it, but, more importantly, their behavior requires it.