Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Another Long Tuesday. Tuesday marks the day of the Education Triple Header at the Capitol and State Office Building with all education-related committees meeting. The day kicked off with an illuminating hearing at the House Education Policy Committee. After a thorough discussion of the Permanent School Fund and the Permanent School Fund Advisory Committee, the panel turned to an in-depth discussion of Minnesota's school assessment statutes and the Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting statute that governed accountability in Minnesota prior to the implementation of standardized testing as a measure of school effectiveness.

Perhaps the most interesting document discussed at today's meeting was a 1972 Citizens League study entitled: Accountability in Schools: Not a Threat, but Real Hope. The study was more than a blast from the past. Looking through it, you see the discussion that led to the Planning, Evaluation, and Reporting statute taking shape along with the whole debate over testing policy. Also, the seeds of policies like site-based management, school choice, and organized parent involvement are also present in the report.

One of the highlights was testimony on the report by education reform leader Joe Nathan, who served on the Citizens League committee that developed the report. Nathan set the tenor of the times and described the proceedings with flair. Coming in the wake of the 1971's Minnesota Miracle, the report truly did lay the groundwork for a number of extremely important discussions regarding state education policy that took place in the 1970s and have, in some form, continued to this day.

The House Education Finance Committee heard a presentation on the Principals Academy given by Kent Pekel from the University of Minnesota's College of Education and Human Development. The report outlined the Academy's work and mission.

The final education-related panel of the day was the meeting of the Senate Education Committee. The committee featured discussion and committee approval of Senator Ted Daley's (R-Eagan) bill that requires prospective teachers pass a basic skills test before they can be admitted to a teacher preparation program. The bill was approved after being amended and will head directly to the Senate floor.

After Senator Daley's bill was processed, the committee received a presentation from Vallay Varro, Executive Director MinnCAN (Minnesota Coalition for Achievement Now), the newly-launched non-profit dealing with teacher preparation and achievement. The Powerpoint presentation given by Ms. Varro was very critical of Minnesota's Race to the Top application and used it as fodder to justify the need for an organization such as MinnCAN. Needless to say, the challenges ahead of us all are immense and democracy thrives on more voices even if that can sometimes be an impediment to decision-making.

Meanwhile Across the River. Found this article from today's edition of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and found it interesting. It seems the Wisconsin Education Association Council (WEAC) is now willing to support sought-after reforms suggested by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Evers. Wisconsin's State Superintendent is an elected position. Perhaps the bigger surprise in the teachers' union's proposal was the suggestion that the Milwaukee school district be split into a number of smaller districts.

Needless to say, the Milwaukee teachers' union is a bit ruffled by the state organization's suggestion. Further, as the article points out, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is more than a bit skeptical about the WEAC proposal.

Another Interesting Web Page. Like her or not, newly-minted mega-millionaire (from her deal with AOL) Arriana Huffington's Huffington Post is a pretty decent web page that delivers a wide range of news. They even have an education page. Check it out!

Link to Huffington Post Education Page: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/education/

A Good Way to Start the Day. If you follow Minnesota politics at all, a good way to get a step ahead on the coming day, check out Blois Olson's Morning Take website. You can subscribe to Olson's daily report at his website. Great news, links, and birthday announcements!

Blois Olson's Morning Take: http://morningtake.posterous.com/

No comments: