Bill Audette

Bill Audette

After reading another antieducation editorial from Fred Blanchard (Letters: “Town Council doesn’t desire less spending,” May 13, Page A6), I feel that, as a mathematics teacher in the Brunswick school system for almost 40 years, it’s my duty to point out his mathematical flaws.

He states the Town Council knows why spending is going up, that being “consistently paying public … education staff more money each year in salaries and benefits for producing the same results.”

From this statement, a reasonable reader might infer Blanchard thinks Brunswick’s teachers earn too much based on educational results. Blanchard then goes on to support his statement with data, which, I presume, is the result of some research on his part.

He makes three points: 1) about the same number of students have earned honor roll status in years past, 2) teacher salaries have increased 3 to 5 percent each year, and 3) there are about 1,000 fewer students in the our school system.

Again, a reasonable reader might conclude that, since Blanchard brings this up, one of his benchmarks for teachers’ pay might be the number of students achieving honor roll.

From these claims, along with his data, it is obvious to me Blanchard needs a lesson in mathematics.

If the number of students on Brunswick’s honor rolls has remained “about the same,” as Blanchard states, but the student population of Brunswick schools has decreased from 3,400 to 2,400 — again, as stated — the mathematics dictate that the percentage of honor roll students must be way up.

So, based on his own criteria, teachers should expect considerably more than a raise of 3 to 5 percent.

If we assume to be true Blanchard’s first point, and if we also assume, conservatively, that about 20 percent of Brunswick’s former 3,400 students made the honor roll, then a total of 680 students would have been on Brunswick’s honor roll lists at that time.

Now, if we use the “same number” of honor roll students — 680 — and compare it to the 2,400 students currently enrolled in the Brunswick schools, according to Blanchard, the percentage goes from the original 20 percent to 28.3 percent, because of the lower population.

If, however, we assume that a more realistic 30 percent of Brunswick’s 3,400 former students

— 1,020 — made the honor roll, then the percentage goes from the original 30 percent to 42.5 percent — 1,020 divided by the current 2,400.

All this because Blanchard states that the honor roll numbers have remained “about the same over the years.” Based on his own criteria, a 12.5 percent pay raise — 42.5 percent minus 30 percent — would be incentive enough for me to consider returning to teaching.

By the way, according to the May 14 edition of The Times Record, Brunswick High School’s third-quarter honor roll includes 304 students. The current student population there is 835. So, just over 36 percent of students recently earned honor roll status.

There seems to be a numerical problem with Blanchard’s argument — or perhaps with his interpretation of data. I understand what he’s trying to point out, but he can’t use numbers so indiscriminately. As the saying goes, “Numbers don’t lie. It’s the person who (misuses) them.”

When using data as supporting evidence, one needs to decide on the type of numbers to use, interpret those numbers correctly, then state the results correctly based on those numbers.

Not only has Blanchard misused, misstated and misinterpreted his own data, he has used this data to support his longstanding, biased anti-education position.

He continues to support and be a member of a minority whose goal is to bash the dedicated, hard-working educational staff of professionals whose job it is to educate Brunswick’s future generation.

His seemingly never-ending attack on Brunswick’s educators suggests to me that he must have had an unpleasant experience during his own school years, perhaps in his math classes.

Unfortunately, due to his faulty mathematics, Mr. Blanchard will not make Brunswick’s third-quarter honor roll.

Furthermore, with his use of faulty logic, he will not be considered for membership on the debate team.

BILL AUDETTE, of Brunswick, is a retired math teacher and math team coach at Brunswick High School and Brunswick Junior High School.


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