I am a retired alumnus of the Moline School system including my elementary years at Ericsson School, John Deere Jr. High, Moline High, and Moline Community College.
Those were much different times. For one, our city had factories up and down the Mississippi River. Our parents got jobs as easy as walking across the railroad tracks, and knocking on the door, and they were hired; it was that easy.
We all had working dads. Moms stayed at home making our lives so much more simple; a nice warm meal, everyone eating at the dinner table. Even 10 kids had a seat, only seven at time, yet that was the best of times to grow up. Except when I was warned, “Wait until your Dad comes home.” I had a lot of those.
Today, for reasons too long to debate, our schools are all under stress and lack funding for the quality education we need for the jobs of the future. The future is now.
Although I would like to agree with our Moline Coal Valley School Board’s decision to implement its operational $17.5 million plan, I would think we still have time for more vetting of this issue, and discussions on anticipating the end game.
Having a quality educational system is something we all want and strive for, yet the poorest of residents under this proposal will suffer the most.
Many issues remain to be discussed, including:
1. What message does an abandoned Ericsson send to residents of the neighborhood; they already feel neglected by their city officials. Running from the problem, not working to fix it is not in all of our best interest.
2. As a business person, and one who has created many successful businesses, that came from having been raised in a caring community where nearly all were immigrant families and overcoming obstacles was just part of daily living.
3. We still have time to offer straightforward, unemotional questions to our school board: Can we fix the problem of low test scores? Can we as a community come together to think out of the box? After all our kids, and our community will be the loser in the long run if we put our heads in the sand.
The Rock Island school system had the same problem and they faced it and saved from closing Longfellow School, one very similar to Ericsson, and Garfield.
This also came after the residents of the Keystone Neighborhood Association vigorously protested the closing, and I am sure they didn’t have police attending meetings to intimidate residents. Rock Island created a successful STEM school program for a lot less than $17.5 million.
Thank you for letting me vent my thoughts as a proud Moline resident.
Bob Ontiveros of Moline is chairman and founder of Group O Companies.