From the agenda, it appears that the primary focus of the conference was an appraisal of the challenges facing the Legislature this biennium and creative ways of thinking about these challenges. One could venture that the presenters urged legislators to think "outside the box," with many legislators responding "we still have a box?"
I'm sure it was a valuable experience that will help provide some measure of guidance in the challenging days ahead:
One Minnesota Agenda: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/leg/minnesota/2011/index.asp
Is There Something We Don't Know? I don't know if Governor Dayton misspoke when he made a comment about the "next round of grants" from the United States Department of Education relating to the funding of the reforms promoted by the Race to the Top program enacted as part of last year's stimulus package.
Whether or not there is another round of grants, which I suppose could be part of the re-authorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), isn't going to stop discussion of a number of the elements of last year's proposed reform package that was not passed by the Legislature. Both HF 3 (Mariani) and HF 63 (Garofalo) are on the schedule of the House Education Reform Committee tomorrow (Thursday, January 13), marking the official starting point for this dicussion for the 2011 session.
In a related matter, Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon at which he stated that Education Minnesota would support a "responsible" alternative teacher licensure program. I don't have my thesaurus handy, so I can't honestly say how many different permutations there are of the word "responsible," but my guess is we are going to find out what "responsible" doesn't mean to Education Minnesota as this issue is discussed.
Here are the MinnPost links from Wednesday's edition on these two items:
Dayton Story: http://www.minnpost.com/learningcurve/2011/01/12/24780/dear_gov_dayton_about_that_second_round_of_education_grants__
Education Minnesota Story: http://www.minnpost.com/politicalagenda/2011/01/11/24785/education_minnesotas_legislative_priorities_face_a_shaky_future
Another Little Nugget of Good News. . .Not! Another story that hit the papers the other day is Minnesota's latest ranking in Education Week's annual Quality Counts report. Minnesota's composite grade for 2011 on Education Week's set of indicators is a C and their national ranking has dropped to 36th nationally. There is some good news in the sub-group scores, with Minnesota ranking 8th nationally in the "Chance for Success" category and 9th nationally in the "K-12 Achievement" category. The only other area in which Minnesota scores in the upper half of the United States is in the area of funding, where it ranks 23rd.
Education Week Quality Counts 2011: Uncertain Forecast, Education Adjusts to a New Economic Reality link: http://www.edweek.org/ew/toc/2011/01/13/index.html?Intc=EW-QC11-EWH