Thursday, January 20, 2011

Daily Recap. The two House education-related committees met today. This morning's House Education Reform Committee featured testimony from Minnesota Business Partnership Executive Director Charlie Weaver and Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson and Vice-President Susan Heegaard. In the vein of most of the hearing time in the House Education Reform Committee to this point in the session, the committee meeting was dedicated to the issue of teacher quality and how teacher quality is the primary determinant in student achievement.

In my view, the Bush Foundation framework for improving teacher quality is the best effort going. By linking school districts and higher education institutions directly in the customized training of teachers for the specific needs of a particular school district, both aspects of classroom teaching, the practice and the preparation, will be reformed.

I would have to check the tape for accuracy, but I thought I heard Charlie Weaver say something to the effect that if a teacher is effective, class size (and I think Charlie said even class-sizes of "50 to 100") doesn't matter. Love ya Charlie, but I think we'll have to agree to disagree about how well any teacher could do in an extremely large class.

The House Education Finance Committee held early in the afternoon featured testimony from the Association of Metropolitan School Districts and Minnesota's Future Initiative. Representative Garofalo has been taking testimony from education lobbying groups regarding their session priorities. We'll be up next week so I'll be spending the weekend honing my testimony.

Alliance for Student Achievement Meeting. The Alliance for Student Achievement met today and we were visited by Dr. Brenda Cassellius, the Commissioner-designee for the Minnesota Department of Education. Dr. Cassellius is very impressive, showing both energy and expertise.

Dr. Cassellius is scheduled to appear at the SEE February meeting and I'm certain that our membership will be very impressed by her ability and interest in making MDE run effectively and meet the needs of local school districts in these challenging times.

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