Monday, September 28, 2015

Great Day at the MASA Conference.  Gary Amoroso and the awesome staff at MASA have put together another great fall conference.  I am unable to attend both days of the conference, but from what I saw today it provided both inspiration and value.  It's always great to catch up with SEE superintendents and superintendents from other parts of the state in an environment that promotes discussion and camaraderie.

It was an especially exciting conference this year as I got to see Dr. Chris Richardson receive the MASA Polaris Leadership Award.  The recipient of this award must have at least twenty years of service as a school administrator and have exhibited the following qualities as a school leader during their career (from the MASA website):

• professional courage leading to positive change
• creation of a legacy of excellent leadership
• a lifelong career contribution of commitment to excellence on behalf of all students
• exemplifying positive reasons that a person would choose to practice
• fostering innovation and ideas that make a difference for students and the school community
• a lifetime of balanced achievement inside and outside of education
• contribution to the practice of educational leadership through example and mentoring
• exemplary conduct reflecting integrity and bearing emulation
• significant tenure in each position to support district vision and affect positive change.

Dr. Richardson has been a strong advocate for SEE at both of his superintendent stops in Minnesota (Osseo and Northfield), serving time as SEE's legislative chair and a longstanding member of SEE's executive committee.  He has been a valuable resource for me on a variety of topics and is a tireless worker on behalf of students throughout the state.

I snapped this shot of Dr. Richardson with another friend of SEE, Joel Sutter from Ehlers and Associates.  Joel presented the award to Dr. Richardson at today's luncheon.  I wish the picture had turned out better, but I don't know if I should blame the camera on my phone or my paltry ability as a photographer.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Great Job Dave!  WCCO-TV had a story on education funding and spending last night with Anoka-Hennepin superintendent David Law was the featured guest in Heather Brown's "Good Question" segment.  David did a great job providing a Cliff's Notes version of how Minnesota's education funding system and the statistics presented by Brown were helpful.

Here's a link to the story:

Another Thing I Did on Summer Vacation.  I saw movies galore over the summer, but one I wanted to mention is Best of Enemies, a documentary about the William F. Buckley/Gore Vidal face-offs on ABC television during coverage of the 1968 Democratic and Republican conventions.  The producers of the film contend that these debates mark the birth of contentious and hyper-partisan political environment and the resulting media coverage, which I think is a bit of a stretch, but the archive footage is fantastic and the interviews with a balanced set of experts are very insightful.  If you loved Buckley and hated Vidal (or vice versa), there's nothing here that will change your mind, but it's still a solid piece of work.

Here's the trailer from the movie that is on You Tube:

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

What I Did on My Summer Vacation.  Welcome back to school!  It's been a quiet summer after the Legislature held its special session in June, but I've been out and about visiting a number of the new SEE superintendents (haven't seen them all quite yet, but I am getting there).  The SEE Legislative Committee has started its work in preparation for the 2016 session and we have our slate of general membership and fall regional meetings set.  Our first general membership meeting will be held on Friday, September 25, at the Ramada Plaza hotel in that cozy little corner where Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Roseville all meet (35W and Industrial Boulevard).  The program will consist of Bill Morris and Peter Leatherman presenting their latest survey results and representatives from the University of Minnesota's Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.  We'll also be distributing the first draft of our 2016 Legislative Platform.

I got to catch up on a little reading over the summer and while I delved into (and actually finished) a number of books, I wanted to highlight two that I found extremely interesting.  The first was Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.'s The Imperial Presidency, which still resonates even though it was first written nearly 40 years ago (and was updated once since).  I also highly recommend Bill Bishop's The Big Sort.  Bishop's major contention is that development and housing patterns have radically changed our politics and have made them more extreme due to the "echo chamber" effect that comes from neighborhoods that are less diverse economically and demographically than they were a generation ago.  His findings have been disputed, but Bishop has amassed a ton of statistics and they make a fairly compelling--if not airtight--case.

Here are links to the books if you are interested.

The Imperial Presidency:

The Big Sort:

One item that will be on SEE's 2016 Legislative Platform will call for measures to reduce the teacher shortage in Minnesota and it was interesting to see the article in Sunday's Minneapolis StarTribune that highlighted the difficulties faced by qualified teachers who hold licenses issued in other states when trying to obtain a license to teach in Minnesota.  The teacher shortage in Minnesota is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with and shortages are showing up across all licensure areas as opposed to simply math, science, and special education (which have been trouble areas for the past decade).  Here's hoping that progress can be made in 2016 on this very important issue.

Here's a link to the StarTribune story: