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: http://www.amazon.com/Imperial-Presidency-Jr-Arthur-Schlesinger-ebook/dp/B0085TKO04/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441761250&sr=1-1&keywords=the+imperial+presidency
The Big Sort: http://www.amazon.com/Big-Sort-Clustering-Like-Minded-American-ebook/dp/B0077FAYES/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1441761203&sr=1-1&keywords=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: http://www.startribune.com/out-of-state-teachers-frustrated-with-minnesota-licensing/324807151/