Wednesday, September 3, 2008


Mary Cathryn, St. Paul. First time caller, long time listener...

Yesterday our Governor spoke to a group about educational issues at "Time to Choose-- Children or the Bureaucracy" assembled by a 527 group founded by Newt Gingrich called American Solutions for Winning the Future. It has been reported that Pawlenty said that the government should work with teachers' unions to "accelerate changes" (StarTribune, 9.03.08) in education. He added that he couldn't "leapfrog" a group like Education Minnesota in a state like this.

I would like Governor Pawlenty to list the changes, accelerated or otherwise, that he has brought forward in partnership with Education Minnesota. The only one he seems to tout with any regularity is Q-Comp, but that is just TAP-- the Teacher Advancement Program (a Milken Family Foundation brainchild) --turned into legislation. There is nothing breath-taking or new about the ideas fostered by Q-Comp. In fact, I would argue that the St. Paul Public School District had the potential of being much more innovative with the well over $21 million increase of district health insurance premiums in the last few years than we ever could with the almost $9 million we would get in Q-Comp funding if we were interested. But neither the Governor nor our school board wanted to "accelerate changes" to a more innovative health insurance pool.

As a result the money goes into the black hole of a Health Partners renewal rather than
  • buying down class sizes,
  • assuring a school nurse for every child,
  • providing every child with physical education and a licensed librarian/media specialist,
  • offering teachers a common professional learning period commensurate to our planning period built into our school day,
  • adding professional days to the school year,
  • offering more innovative summer school options and school calendars, or
  • improving professional development for educational assistants.

Which still leaves my question to be answered: What changes has the Governor actively worked with Education Minnesota to accelerate?

I'll take my answer off the air.

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