Contract $98,000; Benefits $15,000
2nd highest paid of state's 424 admin.
Wis. DPI Supt comp. $121,307
Cost per student Mercer $25,281;
Wis. $12,942; Nation $10,667
Mercer ACT & School Report Card
scores lowest of 21 N. Wis. schools

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Educators Speak Out

From the Iron County Miner
Disbelief.  That was the reaction of several educators when told what Mercer Administrator Erik Torkelson said regarding the ACT test results at October Mercer School District annual meeting.  Torkelson said that the ACT testing system “meant nothing” and asked that it be eliminated.  He is probably the only school official anywhere to make such a suggestion, but then how else could an administrator defend such dismal results.
Then, at Tuesday night’s School board meeting, he feebly tried to discredit the Department of Public Instruction’s School Report Card scoring system which placed Mercer, with a 61.9 – “meets few expectations”, at the bottom of the list for all 21 northern Wisconsin schools and in the bottom 20 of all Wisconsin schools. (See chart at right.)
“I find it difficult to believe that any professional educator, particularly an administrator, would make such statements,” said an administrator in a neighboring school district.  Two administrators, one present and another retired, and a DPI spokesperson were contacted and asked for their assessments of Torkelson’s comments. They all expressed disbelief.
Torkelson made his bizarre ACT comments when a Mercer resident pointed out that Mercer’s ACT composite score of 16.6 was “pathetic” and that it would not get a Mercer student into any college.  The “pathetic” ACT score again placed Mercer at the bottom of a list of 21 northern Wisconsin schools.  The average for all 422 of the state’s schools is 20.0.   In the recent testing, 87.5% of the Mercer students were not proficient in English, reading, writing, math and science.
Although the ACT scores were made public in September and the School Report Card scores were announced by the DPI in November, Torkelson chose not to acknowledge either until they were reported in the Iron County Miner and people began to question the results.  A year earlier, when the Mercer Report Card score was much better, Torkelson extoled the virtues of DPI Report Card scoring system with an elaborate School Board meeting slide presentation.  He even had huge banners made, which still remain on the outside of the school despite the failing Report Card and ACT scores.  Interestingly, he now feels the Report Card scoring system is flawed, and he wants to eliminate ACT testing.   
By not acknowledging the importance of these two measurements of success – or, rather, his failure – he is doing a disservice to the students and their parents, and he has not proposed any corrective measures.  It seems like the only logical solution is to bring in a new administrator who knows how to manage a successful educational program.
Since Torkelson was hired by his mother-in-law Kelly Kohegyi to be the Mercer school administrator, and with no previous experience, Mercer’s ACT scores have been on a steady decline.

2008                 21.8                                     
2009                 21.4                                                 
2010                 21.0                                     
2011                 21.3
Torkelson becomes administrator                  
2012                 Redacted
2013                 20.0
2014                 Redacted
2015                 19.0
2016                 18.1
2017                 16.6 

To paraphrase the challenge President Ronald Reagan made to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall:


  1. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Torkelson does not belong in any public capacity and most of all, in public education.

    He and his stooges on the school board have to go!

  2. To the moron who mistakenly thinks that the number of comments indicates the popularity of a blogsite: MSF page views (so far) today – 168; page views yesterday – 281.

    1. I find this blog very interesting and informative. It is one of several sources that keep me informed of what's going on and going down in different areas of the northwoods. Thank you.

  3. There are many that just refresh to see what nonsense you’ve got going on now. Don’t humor yourself! If you had all these followers you would have gotten your agenda done by Now! Merry Christmas!

    1. It doesn't happen over night, genius. Some things need to be achieved slowly, deliberately and constructively. But please believe me... It will happen.

  4. But what about those 452 Mercer citizens who voted in the last school board election to start to end this bad situation for the students and community?

  5. What does it say about a certain board member that dresses up in a loon costume? Is that a person that you want to make decisions for your children? It is what it is!

  6. To "Anonymous December 22, 2017 at 2:22 PM":

    Nonsense? An agenda? You mean, an agenda demanding transparency, truth-telling, and academic rigor at Mercer School? That's "nonsense," all right; who could possibly be on board with such crazy things? Change is sometimes slow and incremental, but make no mistake: There are more and more of us all the time and we are rising.