Monday, January 17, 2011

Happy MLK Day. Always a day to commemorate the quest for equal opportunity and how much remains to be done to make equal opportunity for all a reality in Minnesota and the nation (and the world for that matter). It's a day in which the SEE mission statement of "All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota" should make our entire organization proud and realize that we need to be at the center of the action that leads toward the development of an education funding formula that is both adequate and equitable.

Alternative Teacher Licensure Discussion Re-starts Tomorrow. Tomorrow morning's House Education Reform Committee chaired by Representative Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton). Discussion will likely return to HF 3, Representative Mariani's (DFL-St. Paul) bill that was laid over last Thursday. This bill is almost identical to the bill proposed by Representative Mariani last session that was pulled from the omnibus education policy bill before it was sent to the House floor. As you recall, the entire education policy bill died after the conference committee report died on the Senate floor.

There are a couple of proposed amendments to HF 3 that will likely be discussed in conjunction with the bill, most notably, the amendment that would require that any prospective teacher trained in an alternative licensure program would be under the direction of a classroom teacher for 90 days before they could receive a license. It is my impression that this amendment is strongly opposed by most of the alternative licensure proponents.

Upon completion of the discussion of HF 3, the spotlight will then shift to HF 63, Representative Garofalo's (R-Farmington) bill. The big difference between the HF 3 and HF 63 appears to be between permissive "may" language aimed at the Board of Teaching in HF 3 to "must" language requiring the Board of Teaching to develop an alternative licensure system under HF 63.

Stay tuned for my report tomorrow.

From The New York Times. Below is a link to an article from The New York Times entitled "Florida Has Classes Without Teachers" by Laura Herrera. It is interesting to note that Florida is using the computer labs described in the article to meet the requirements of its constitutionally-mandated class-size ratios. Regardless of the reason for increased use of virtual learning, it's fairly clear that the movement is picking up steam and this is just another sign post on that journey.

Just a Thought About the Arizona Shootings. I don't wade into current events (outside of the education debate in St. Paul) often on this blog, but the shootings in Arizona last weekend have me thinking, "Is it possible for this country to have a national tragedy anymore?" The toxic nature of the debate in the wake of the shootings seemed to bury concern about the victims and instead leapt to a rash of theoretical antecedent causes.

I looked up Swiss-American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief the other night. They are: (1) denial, (2) anger, (3) bargaining, (4) depression, and (5) acceptance. Obviously, dealing with a tragedy on a macro-level has a much different dynamic than on a personal basis, making Kubler-Ross' somewhat inapplicable for comparison purposes, but I've only seen two stages in dealing with the Arizona shootings: (1) charges and (2) counter-charges with an occasional mention of the fallen.

There certainly are a number of important issues that will be discussed in the coming months, including the state of our mental health system and how our involuntary commitment policies are working (or not working) and greater security for public officials, but in the meantime, I would hope that we would recognize the absolute horror of this event for what it is--a tragedy--and turn our thoughts toward those who were killed or wounded.

I've now put the soap box back under the sink.

If You Absolutely Cannot Get Enough of Me. I've got an active Twitter account and I'm tweeting so much it's like I'm a traveling bird store. To follow me, just head to the Twitter main page and search for my handle--50Poundhead (a self-imposed nickname emanating from by Size 7 5/8 noggin)--and simply follow me. If you don't have an account, you will have to get one to follow.

I will use the account to provide quick updates and easily and quickly link interesting articles that I come across in my daily work.

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