Monday, February 07, 2011

Light Monday. The week kicked off with a single education-related meeting; the Senate Education Committee. Today's Senate hearing mirrored a House Education Funding Committee of a couple years ago, with testimony from Minnesota's Future: World Class Schools. World Class Jobs. Jim Bartholomew testified on behalf of the Minnesota Business Partnership; Peter Hutchinson and Susan Heegaard testified on behalf of the Bush Foundation; and Cecelia Retelle testified on behalf of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. All parties testified in support of the project, which is a joint effort between the Minnesota Business Partnership and the Itasca Project.

The report focuses on both high standards and reform. With the need for higher standards and the challenges of a possible teacher shortage and a growing achievement gap, the report points out a number of straightforward reforms aimed at addressing these pressing needs. Foremost in the recommendations are: (1) aggressive teacher recruitment and retention to put and keep the "best and brightest" in front of the classroom, (2) more tools for principals to improve and support learning, and (3) "relevant and results-oriented information to drive continuous improvement and the success of our students."

A lot of the territory covered by the report is relatively well-worn, but the report does heighten the sense of urgency facing the system. And there are myriad challenges to our system and from our organization's perspective, funding--both in terms of adequacy and equity--is clearly among those challenges. Unfortunately, this report believes that Minnesota's education funding, although it ranks 27th in the nation, is "sufficient, reliable, and predictable." I guess you can't agree with everybody all the time.

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