Thursday, February 17, 2011

Correction!!!!!! I'm not going to bury my corrections at the end of the blog. I'll 'fess up when I make an erroneous statement, so here goes. Yesterday I reported that the Governor's education budget proposal sought to pay the entire shift back by the end of the next biennium. That was an incorrect characterization on my part. Instead, the Governor proposes that the shift be bought back by 2% increments over the next decade. In the event the economy picks up and the state revenue collected allows the replenishment of the budget reserve, cash flow account, and the automatically-reduced state aid and property tax recognition shifts, the amount the shift bought back will be at least two percentage points with the automatic portion being credited first.

Great Week of Hearings. I'll have to admit that these week's hearings were informative with some interesting discussion and presentation of a couple of bills that will likely find their way into the omnibus education funding bill. As I reported Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee heard three bills dealing with total operating capital on Monday, with one of those allowing an annual transfer by board action of $51 per pupil unit from the total operating capital fund to the general fund. Those bills were heard in the House Education Funding Committee on Tuesday afternoon and I fully expect those bills to be part of the legislatively-developed education packages that will be assembled over the coming month.

Wednesday afternoon's House Education Funding Committee meeting was dedicated to the subject of early childhood education with opinions on the value of these programs debated (yes, there are some skeptics regarding the value of early childhood education).

Thursday morning's House Education Policy Committee featured the discussion of two bills. The first was Representative Mary Kiffmeyer's (R-Big Lake) HF 355--the companion to Senator
Gen Olson's SF 69--that streamlines the reporting requirements for home schools. The second bill was Representative Sondra Erickson's (R-Princeton) HF 511, a bill that proposes to repeal or revise a number of mandates. This bill marks a second step in the mandate repeal effort (although one proposed repeal--the elimination of the maintenance-of-effort provision for school support personnel--is found in several other bills that have been approved at the committee level) with several new mandates injected into the discussion for possible repeal or revision.

Included in HF 511 are a postponement of the review of the social studies standards for four years along with a requirement that the new standards be reviewed by the Legislature; the ability of a district to limit the number of 403 (b) vendors for employees; a prohibition on the Department of Education promulgating new special education rules without specific legislative authority; and a requirement that the Commissioner of Education approve any requested fund transfer applied for by a school district in the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. Representative Erickson's bill takes another important step toward making life a bit easier for school districts without compromising fiscal or program integrity.

Today's Non Sequitur Moment. When I jumped in the car this morning, I noticed it was extremely foggy. When it's extremely foggy, I think of the song "The Foggy, Foggy Dew." And when I think of that song, I think of the singer who made it famous, the one and only Burl Ives.

In honor of the late Mr. Ives, I thought I'd share these interesting facts about his life.
  • Born in 1909 in Jasper County, Illinois.
  • Played football at Eastern Illinois University but dropped out of school during his junior year, actually walking out of an English class during a lecture on Beowulf, as he had come to the conclusion he was "wasting his time."
  • Jailed in Mona, Utah, as a vagrant in the 1930s, when he was traveling around as an itinerant singer, for singing the aforementioned "Foggy, Foggy Dew," which the city officials deemed a "bawdy" song.
  • Served in the US Army during World War II.
  • Blacklisted during the "Red Scare," but was re-instated after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee after admitting he had attended union meetings, but was not a member of the Communist Party. Didn't "name names," but his appearance caused a rift with longtime friend Pete Seeger (they reconciled later in life). When asked by the Committee whether he knew any Communists, he supposedly replied "You know who my friends are. You will have to ask them if they are Communists."
  • Won an Oscar for his role in The Big Country. Other movie credits include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, East of Eden, and Desire Under the Elms.
  • Portrayed Johnny Horizon, the fictional spokesperson for the United States Bureau of Land Management and its "This Land is Your Land--Keep it Clean" campaign of the 1970s.
All this and more at the Wikipedia Burl Ives entry:

Here's hoping you are reading this before whatever social event you'll be attending this weekend so you can wow your friends with all things Burl Ives.

The Great Burl Ives

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