But that’s about it for medals, once you get too old for either the Girl or Boy Scouts. And I think that‘s a mistake. People like medals – boys do, especially, and I think we need more of them.
So I am proposing establishing the Michigan Civilian Award for common sense under pressure, and I want to nominate a man I have never met, except in the pages of the Muskegon Chronicle newspaper.
Meet Calvin Cederquist, who they call “Hap.” He is a councilman in the small Muskegon suburb of Montague. That’s just down the road from another suburb called Whitehall. These aren’t teeming metropolises. Both towns have fewer than three thousand people each.
Yet, each has its own school system. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, frankly. These towns aren’t large enough to give their kids a full range of academic choices.
Back in 1990, those who cared about education were concerned about this. They decided to look into the possibility of consolidating the two districts. Their study was an eye-opener.
If the school operations merged, their high school students would have more than thirty new courses to choose from. Middle and elementary school kids would get more, too.
Consolidation was a no-brainer. They put it on the ballot, and the people overwhelmingly turned it down.
Why? Football. They have a historic small-town rivalry going. Justin Flynn, who was on Montague’s team then and still lives there now, tried to tell a reporter that “We thought our education system was better than theirs.
However, he added, “Football is everything in Montague.” Everything, that is, except education and jobs.
Times are worse today. The schools could save a lot of money and provide better education if they merged. But most local politicians fear the voters’ wrath.
Except, that is, for Hap Cederquist. “My feeling is the reason to have the schools is to educate the kids, not to have two schools or two football teams. I guess I’m naïve.” he told a reporter.
No, Mr. Cederquist. You are not naïve. You are a grownup, with your children’s interests in mind. We need leaders like you.
We need some creative problem solving here. Maybe they could combine the schools and still have two football teams.
Regardless, thirty years ago there were more than two million students in Michigan schools. Today, that number has declined by 350,000. Yet we have more schools than ever.
Thirty years ago, you could still get a good job even with a poor education. Not any more. Schools need to do whatever they can to rationally save money to protect the core mission.
And that would be … educating our kids. Thanks for the reality check, Mr. Cederquist. And have a nice day, wherever you are.