Sunday, June 24, 2012

August 7, 2012 Primary

We thank the Iron County Clerk for proof copies of the Iron
County ballots for the August 7, 2012 primary election.

For your convenience and access, we have published the
proof ballots at the internet web locations listed below.

Please be registered and vote!

Bill Vajk

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Friends of Camp Batawagama - July 2012

“Always Patsy Cline” has enjoyed great 
success all over the country, including 
off-Broadway, and this uplifting musical 
production is on its way to Iron County!

Friends of Camp Batawagama have 
scheduled this show for Wednesday, 
July 18, 2012, 7pm at the Windsor 
Auditorium.  For only $15, you can help 
support Camp Batawagama and enjoy 
a top notch evening of entertainment.  
An afterglow at Alice’s Supper Club
immediately following the show, will 
provide theatre goers with an opportunity 
to meet the cast – only $10 extra for this 
bonus feature.

“Always Patsy Cline” is more than a 
tribute to the legendary Patsy.  The show 
is based on Cline’s friendship with a fan 
from Houston named Louise Seger, who 
befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk 
in 1961 and continued corresponding with 
Cline until her tragic death in a plane crash 
in 1963.

Enjoy yourself for the evening and help 
secure many years of camping fun for our 
area youth.  Support the Friends of 
Camp Batawagama

For tickets: email me 
( ) or call and 
leave a message at 906-265-4410.  (The 
afterglow event at Alice’s is limited to 
100 – so don’t delay.)


Sara J. Basso
Basso & Basso
PO Box 63
Iron River MI 49935

Phone: 906-265-4410

Friday, June 15, 2012

Public Education Wrap-up

The title to this article is a misnomer. Every social
structure, public education is assuredly part of that
genre, is in a permanent state of evolution and,
hopefully, improvement. In that context, we certainly
hope that Michigan’s public education system never
stops evolving in that direction. I’ve written before
about the nuns who taught me in grammar school
universally adding the note, “There’s always room for
improvement” to the bottom of all report cards, even
the ones that had straight A’s.

After publishing the article of May 23, we spoke with
a number of people about it and the topic of public
education. Those discussions, coupled with several
news stories appearing in the national news recently,
are incorporated.

Within this same culture called Iron County, we have
two school systems. Forest Park’s graduates experienced
16.1% requiring remedial courses when starting college
while 27.8% graduating from West Iron had the same
needs. But other information is missing from these
statistics that might shed some light on the reason for
this disparity.

Frankly I was rather surprised at the results of the
ongoing local discussions. There was a consensus
amounting to 50% that the reason for so much
remedial work being necessary when graduates of
our public school system enter college is because the
colleges set their admissions policy too low. They’re
routinely admitting students who achieved only a 2.0
average. Never the less, 2.0 graduates are still graduates
being sent out into the world less prepared than they
should and could be.

On the other side of that coin, the questions become
interesting. Why is it that students with low grade point
averages believe that they are ready for college in the
first place? Is it not the function of the public school
system to graduate students ready for a successful life?
Isn’t a public education supposed to help all students
achieve the direction necessary for success?

Ideally, if the school system is functioning correctly,
the guidance counselors should have done better,
with students who attempt college and requiring
remedial work not exceeding a very low number,
probably below 5%, ideally none at all. As we wrote
in an earlier article, not everyone is ready for college
at high school graduation. I offer my own children as
such examples. One of my children has graduated,
achieved advanced studies, and has even taught at the
university level. Another is currently pursuing graduate
studies. Do I consider them successful? Yes. Should
they have attended college straight out of high school?
No. Despite all the help and guidance that was available
in their home, they simply took longer than the usual
case to be prepared for college. There were good
reasons, but those are beyond the scope of this article.

The point is that high school graduates with a grade
average of 2.0 should, at graduation, know that they
are not, at that moment, college material. Actually,
even excellent grades standing alone provide no
assurance either.

When I was a freshman in high school, the editor of the
yearbook was a young lady earning all A’s across the
board throughout her high school career. On graduating,
she attended an excellent university, but was home again
having suffered a nervous breakdown before
Thanksgiving. In order to achieve those A’s in high
school, the girl had poured almost her entire existence
into earning those grades. But when she got to college,
she could not put enough effort into her studies even at
the cost of little to no sleep, because the demands were
that much greater, and she had already been tapped out
with her high school endeavors. She regrouped,
reassessed her priorities, found a satisfactory career, and
became a productive and admired member of the
community, and a college community at that. College
was clearly not for her. It is unfortunate that in the state
and national political narratives such simple facts are
ignored. That's the nature of a system holding thee very
objects of its attention at arm's length.

25% of the folks I had discussions with about education
are happy with the local school systems. Naturally enough,
these are parents whose children were/are successful in
the public school system. And these are generally the
sort of parents who attended the March 22 meeting
referred to in our earlier article. I wouldn’t expect
otherwise, and statistically 25% approximates the top
end of the bell curve distribution of grades that we
expect in any large enough random group. This, by the
way, is the group most able to achieve improvements to
all socio-economic conditions locally, and alas is the
group least likely to undertake local initiatives because
of the huge personal costs of activism.

The other 25% are individuals who referred to their
own school experiences, and those of their children,
who said that they were “given” passing grades for
course work in which they did not achieve competence
so that they would not have to repeat courses and they
could graduate on schedule. None of this 25% attempted
college. Some did go on to a specialized trade school

It is interesting to note that 50% blamed “others” for the
local school system failure to graduate college ready
children who are bound for college despite the fact that
those “others” have no input or responsibility for
providing our youth with a public education. Our school
boards are charged with that duty! This is in a setting
where the current federal executive branch is unrealistically
pushing for 100% of the children to attend college. I didn’t
seek to level the playing field in undertaking these
discussions, but just took information as it was presented
to me in my usual rounds. Another person talking to
members of the same community could easily come up
with different numbers.

But what of the underlying meeting, and discussions, of
March? What, specifically, does “improve public education
in Michigan” mean in the first place? Very little attention
was given to “at risk” and dropouts, and they weren’t part
of the presentation by the facilitator. Does “improve”
include changes to those numbers? Or does “improve”
mean more knowledge imparted to the students? Does it
mean better grades? Should more C students be B students?

Those who have studied private and Catholic School
education compared to public education have historically
found superior performance by private and Catholic school
students. In 1993 the University of Chicago published an
article about the topic, reporting some interesting results.
We commend that article to our readers.

“The authors attribute Catholic schools' academic
success to four characteristics: a common core of
academic work for all students; a supportive,
communal style of organization; decentralized
governance; and an inspirational ideology.”

But by far the most fascinating tidbit was:

“The academic success of Catholic schools can be
replicated at public schools and non-Catholic
private schools if those institutions adopt some
of the successful principles used in Catholic
education, contends Anthony Bryk, Professor
in Education.”

We also commend this web page as indicative
of the successes available in the non-public
education models.

In recent days, the name Dr. Rebecca Kenny has
once again come to the forefront with her “Harlem
Village Academies.” Please see:

Many similar examples abound.

In this author’s opinion, a simple study of incomes for a
large number of randomly selected publicly educated vs.
Catholic school educated adults at 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50
years after graduation should flesh out the data very
nicely. It is just as interesting that magnet schools, and
charter schools,  typically demonstrate significantly
improved results over the standard public education.

Surely there is room for improvement for all students.
Also, should education cost less? What is the specific
target when seeking improvement? Is the legislature
going to act on undefined targets, just to do something?

Your humble correspondent attended one meeting
representing 26 individuals out of the announced
eventual statewide goal of 5000. As far as I could tell,
the group in that meeting was dominated by a
combination of local educators and parents of
successful children.

Iron County Doings urges the Center for Michigan to
conduct a second set of focus groups designed to ask
parents of failing and at risk children about their views
on the school systems in this state. What do those
individual perceive their needs to be? Does anyone
really know?

There is, by comparison, little  improvement available
for those already achieving success. The level of success
can often be improved even near the top. The area that
needs the most work is improvement for students in the
failing and the marginal sectors of the spectrum. Those
groups had no obvious representation in the March 22
meeting. Or if they were present, very little was said about
them. That’s probably inherent in the way that the focus
group was designed, and not a failing on the part of the
individuals whose diligence and hard work enabled the
Iron County meeting in the first place. And too, this
article, and the preceding one we published, are
outgrowths of the efforts so graciously donated to the
community by the Bassos. So it isn’t as though those
who fail, or could achieve better results, are completely
unrepresented because here we are, writing about them.

But of course the non-attending or otherwise silent
parents are anticipated to be non-voting members of
society, and often ignored for that reason where political
initiatives are concerned. Isn’t this the usual case of
oppression by the vocal majority? However, in America,
the land of opportunity, what we are discussing is
precisely the sort of “hand up” that would allow
transition for some significant portion of the students
to a higher level, perhaps even a socio-economic status
step up, the real promise of our nation. That’s the segment
of society that could benefit the most by improving the
public educational system. And in the end, everyone
benefits because, like it or not, we’re all in this together.

We haven’t even touched on another harbinger of failure
of our youth to achieve, that being social issues. Mind
altering substance abuse by parents and/or students,
bullying, and alcoholism take their significant toll, and
such issues are barely addressed at the point of contact,
let alone in legislation. So long as there are no visible
signs of child abuse, absolutely nothing is done.

While I personally support all initiatives to improve
public education by every possible vehicle, it is not
solely the Center for Michigan’s function to provide the
legislature with information on which to base legislation.
It is, rather, the legislature’s duty to the citizens to become
as knowledgeable as possible on all issues that they
regulate. I look forward to the day when hearings
conducted by Michigan’s legislative committees form
one of a number of bases for decision making.

In the context of any discussion about educating our
children, all of the issues are complex. Einstein, as history
tells us, was extremely difficult to educate. More than the
atom bomb, which his theoretical work enabled, it was
Einstein’s addition to the knowledge base in the realm of
quantum mechanics that formed the basis for solid state
electronics and everything that has grown out of the
resulting discovery of the transistor. We could not have
the world we have today were it not for the success of
Einstein’s education in the face of the challenges he

Nevertheless, till the end of his days, Einstein was quirky.
He remained, till the end, a person who, if translated into
a school age child, would be considered “difficult” if not
ineducable. What a shame it would be to our world if
Einstein had remained completely dismissed as a youth.
Can we, as an enlightened society, fail to work with such
children? So very often all it takes is a brief flash of
insight by a child to make a silk purse out of what,
just moments before, had appeared to be sow’s ear rather
than the intellect that was suddenly lit up.

As a society, and a state, we need to unleash the inherent
good that exists in teachers in order to achieve the domino
effect that is often seen in such cases.

Bill Vajk

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Iron County Board-Meeting Schnedule Revision-June 2012

The Iron County Board of Commissioners has 
cancelled the 9:00 a.m. bimonthly Regular 
meeting at PentogaPark on Tuesday, June 12, 
2012. This meeting is now scheduled for 1:30 
p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, to take place 
in the Iron County Board of Commissioners 
Meeting Room in the Annex Addition, Crystal 
Falls, Michigan.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Thank Goodness

Iron County has been in need of a better judge
for quite some time now. I've been hearing about
Mark Tousignant running for the post for a while,
but this is the first signal that it is a fact.

We wish Mr. Tousignant Godspeed.

Bill Vajk

Friday, June 1, 2012

June 2012 County Meetings Schedule

The Iron County Board of Commissioners
will be holding their Finance Committee
meetings every Thursday at 1:00 p.m. They
will be held in the Commissioners Meeting
Room, Annex Addition, Iron County
Courthouse, Crystal Falls, Michigan.

Carl Lind
Finance Chair

The Iron County Board of Commissioners
will be holding their bimonthly Regular
Meeting on Tuesday, June 12, 2012, at
9:00 a.m., at Pentoga Park on Chicaugon
Lake, Crystal Falls, Michigan.

Wayne Wales

The Iron County Board of Commissioners
will be holding their bimonthly Regular
Meeting on Tuesday, June 26, 2012, at
6:00 p.m., at the Hematite Township Hall,
109 W. Pine Street, Amasa, Michigan.

Wayne Wales

The Iron County Courthouse will be closed
on Wednesday, July 4th, 2012, in observance
of the holiday.

Wayne Wales

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