Where’s the beef with district’s academics?

In 1984 an upstart fast food joint launched a television commercial that increased its sales by 31 percent and helped make Wendy’s the third largest burger chain in the world.

The original ad titled “fluffy bun” featured three elderly ladies examining a new burger with a tiny patty and a large bun. While the others, two “grannies”, admired the “big fluffy bun”, an unlikely star, 81-year-old Clara Peller, croaked the immortal query “Where’s the beef?”

The phrase was a sharp jab at competitors Burger King and McDonald’s that featured hamburgers with less beef than Wendy’s. The ad made Peller an instant celebrity and the slogan even made its way into the democratic primary campaign when Vice President, Walter Mondale, invoked, “Where’s the beef?” to slam rival Gary Hart’s lack of substance. Mondale eventually lost to Ronald Reagan and led a Wendy’s spokesperson to say, “If Walter Mondale could have said the line like Clara, he would have been our president.”

As our district continues to look closely at how we can get better with limited resources … the difficult discussion of what do we do with the 100 students that represent next year’s Beallsville High School, grades 9-12 is ongoing.

Several weeks ago, I asked our high school principals to look at the coursework each of their buildings offers our students. One thing was obvious, our Beallsville High School students have fewer opportunities than their peers in the district.

It is also clear that based on our Treasurer’s calculations formulated by the state reports, we are spending almost twice as much money on the Beallsville student as we are a River student.

That is unfair and unjust both ways. The questions “Where’s the beef?” needs to be answered. A Beallsville High School student has much less “beef” in their course offerings and our district voters are paying an awful lot of “fluffy bun” on one side of the district. That hurts all of our students. ALL of our students deserve better. If the Beallsville grades 9-12 students were restricted into their choice of Monroe Central or River, ALL of our students would benefit by extra courses at the high school level. The Beallsville High School student benefits the most academically with over 15 additional course offerings. No longer would it be necessary for our top Beallsville High School students to sit in study hall for two periods a day because they have taken all of the courses offered. River and Monroe Central students would also see additional courses when Beallsville High School staff is redistricted to other buildings. New courses can be added.

All of this extra “beef” can be added while saving enough money so that highly qualified teachers can be hired to help support elementary teachers so they can teach the subjects they were trained to teach.

We are a declining enrollment district – change is inevitable. We have 2,320 students in 2014 which is down from 3,212 students we had 20 years ago.

We were losing students before I arrived in the district. I have already had several meetings with parents that indicated if we remain status quo next year, they will take their students elsewhere too.

Courageous leadership is needed before it is too late for all of our students.

In the future when we hear the question, “Where’s the beef?, we will proudly respond to parents and our community – the bee is right here in Switzerland of Ohio local school District again — let show you the good things our schools can provide your children today?

  • Editor’s note: Hall is superintendent of the?Switzerland of Ohio?School?District.