On January 10 the Montana Office of Public Instruction announced “record high graduation rates for Montana in 2018”.
In today’s Great Falls Tribune, January 29, one of the headlines on the front page is “Graduation rate of GFPS students in 2018 dropped”.
Recent data from City-Data.com shows the Great Falls’ poverty rate above the state and national average and DataUSA reports that Great Falls population declined 0.14% between 2015 and 2016 (most recent data available) and our median household income is below national, state and even county levels.
In an article titled “What city is hit hardest by extreme poverty in your state?”, written by Evan Comen and Samuel Stebbins of 24/7 Wall Street for USA Today, and reported on by E-City Beat, Great Falls gets the dubious distinction of being the hardest hit by extreme poverty in Montana.
State graduation rates are up, Great Falls graduation rates are down. Other Montana cities Are growing while Great Falls struggles to remain stagnant. That’s what the facts show. Isn’t it time we stopped the denial and started to acknowledge the problem here? you know, so we can fix it.
Local school board and city commission elections are coming up this year. I sincerely hope candidates for these leadership positions will propose serious ideas and solutions rather than relying on name recognition and being “nice people” to get elected. We don’t need another popularity contest style election here; the fierce urgency of now requires a lot more if we want to live up to our potential in Great Falls.
And I hope we hear ideas beyond the now standard, “If we only had more money…”. Local “leaders” have been treating taxpayers like their personal ATM machine for too long. Where has it gotten us?