News Day January 7

(Not) teaching English already? Education Week magazine finds that Minnesota lacks enough ESL teachers, the Strib reports, with a ratio of 49 students to each ESL teacher, compared to a national 19 to 1 average. That’s critical, since Minnesota’s ESL student population doubled, growing from 30,000 in 1995 to 61,000 in 2005, according to Education Commissioner Alice Seagren. In suburban Anoka-Hennepin, the state’s largest district, ESL enrollment has gone from 118 students 15 years ago to 3,200 today. In contrast to today’s push for all immigrants to learn English yesterday, the Hispanic Fanatic notes a recent University of Wisconsin study showing that a century ago “many immigrants felt no need to learn English at all, much less quickly, and that some of them, in the words of the researchers, ‘appeared to live and thrive for decades while speaking exclusively German.'”

Kudos to MinnPost for adding a DC correspondent, Cynthia Dizikes. That makes two for MN, with the other spot occupied by the Strib’s Kevin Diaz. Minnesota may have only one senator at the moment, but we have eight congressional reps, and now two whole reporters to cover the crowd.

Maybe we should move to NoDak. MPR reports that North Dakota has a $1.2 billion budget surplus and Governor John Hoeven is planning both tax cuts and increased state spending. (He also wants to keep a budget reserve of at least $600 million, noting that the state is not immune to the national economic recession.)

Okay to discriminate. The Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed that a lesbian couple raising two daughters can be denied family membership in a Rochester health club, reports the Strib. No gay marriage, no equal rights: 2009 repeats 2008 repeats 2007 …

“It’s a nightmare, dude.” Both the Strib and the PiPress devote major column inches to the Minnesota Fatal Attraction story of a former “female friend” who trashed her ex’s apartment, pouring paint over walls and into computer and toilet and even impaling his daughter’s teddy bear on a steak knife. The case should be easy to make — she posted photos on her MySpace account.

Their ex-prime minister trumps our president-elect. TPM has the Blair House answer we have been waiting for: King George Bush II said president-elect Obama and his family can’t stay in the official guest house while awaiting the inauguration (and getting daughters in school and naming cabinet members and handling the rest of the transition business) because, in the waning moments of the reign of George II, he is “hosting former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and will be giving him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Fun fact about Howard: He is a staunch Iraq War supporter who said in early 2007 that if he were in al-Qaeda he would be praying as much as possible for an Obama victory and for the Democrats in general.”

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