Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Oh! What a Night! Late May back in 2008 in Anoka-Hennepin. . .hey, the meter is off already so it's time I quit channeling Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons to describe the kick-off meeting of the "New Minnesota Miracle" held by the House K-12 Funding Committee last Wednesday evening at Jackson Middle School in Champlin. Pictured at the left is Chair Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville), flanked on her left by House staff member Tim Strom, Representative Melissa Hortmann (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and Representative Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington).

The hearing served as both a summary of the 2008 legislative session and an opportunity to discuss the education funding plan outlined in HF 4178/SF 3238. This bill provides the template for what is currently being called "The New Minnesota Miracle." The bill requires a significant investment of new revenue--anywhere from $1.0 billion to $1.7 billion depending on how it is configured. One of the real assets to the bill is that it can be phased-in on a scaled basis, with the benefit of each of the formula reforms taking form over time. Given the considerable price tag, the bill will probably require some measure of phased implementation.

The Anoka-Hennepin school district provided, as host, a very solid set of examples as to how the elements of the new formula would bolster and enhance the educational program being delivered in that district. A number of education leaders in the Anoka-Hennepin district, among them Wanamingo's finest Ginny Karbowski (pictured at right), the director of the STEP program for the Anoka-Hennepin school district, gave compelling testimony as to how--in this case, the increased funding for career and technical education--the reforms contained in HF 4178 would be of assistance. Other positive examples cited the rise in basic funding, the increase in funding for special education, and the increase in funding for transportation contained in the bill.

There were several indicators as to how exciting this new initiative is, but perhaps the greatest indicator of this excitement was the presence of two (not one, but, count 'em) former SEE presidents among the spectators. Bill Zimmerman and Russ Funk (pictured at left) came out to observe the proceedings and it was good to see them. Bill and Russ are not only distinguished ex-presidents of SEE, they are also strong supporters of public education and advocates of bringing both greater adequacy and equity to Minnesota's education funding system. It was great to see them and I hope to see them again soon.

R.I.P. Bo Diddley. I don't know about anyone else here, but I grew up watching cheesy music/variety shows on television in the vein of "Upbeat" (Hey, let's go! It's the upbeat show!) and Lloyd Thaxton. It was on these shows that I was introduced to acts like Jerry Lee Lewis, Wayne Cochran, The Fabulous Flippers, and Bo Diddley. I remember those days fondly and it always brings me a bit of sadness as another artist from that era makes their way to the great. For those of us who actually tried to play guitar with any measure of success, Bo Diddley's straight-ahead, no-holds-barred style was always an inspiration. It was often imitated, but seldom replicated.
So Ellas McDaniel (Bo's real name), thanks a lot! You'll be missed.

In another musical aside, was anyone else here feeling sleepy or noticing a little bit of dust today? After all, it was the 3rd of June, which is usually a sleepy, dusty (delta) day. Hey, who is that up on the bridge and what are they throwing off of it? Just drop me a line if you know the answer to this little set of queries from the monster hit of the summer of 1967 (Wow! 41 years already. Seems like just yesterday.).