Category Archives: education

Our children can’t wait

school busMore than 50 years ago, I went to public schools in rural Minnesota. My husband attended public school in Minneapolis. My children went to St. Paul public schools. Now my great-nieces and great-nephew are in St. Paul Public Schools. I have taught in public schools. So did my aunt and my great-aunt and my grandmother.

I say this to tell you that I know about public schools – their successes and their shortcomings. I believe in public education as a crucial part of our duty to our children, to our state, to citizenship itself.

Minnesota’s legislature is set to grossly underfund education. That’s a failure that affects every person in our state. For me, that failure hits very close to home. Continue reading

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Global students in St. Paul: LEAP High School


Rose Santos, LEAP principal, with self-portraits created by LEAP students. 

“A cow will drink calf’s milk.” What does this proverb mean? On a sunny winter afternoon, eleven students from six different countries share proverbs from their own countries. They say the proverb first in the original language, then translate, and finally explain the meaning. The cow drinking calf’s milk? “When they get older, parents must depend on their children.”

The students discussing proverbs are among 272 students from 20 different countries enrolled at LEAP High School, a St. Paul public school that welcomes new immigrants who are 15-20 years old. They study a regular high school curriculum, in all-English-language classes, trying hard to cram 12 years of education into four or five or six.  Continue reading

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Why Minnesota wants to shut down Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business

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The Minnesota Office of Higher Education wants to shut down Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business. The two schools are owned by the same outfit and have campuses in the Twin Cities, Rochester and St. Cloud, as well as one in South Dakota and some in Wisconsin. The OHE move comes after a Hennepin County District Judge found that the two schools engaged in fraud on students. A Minnesota law says that the state cannot approve any school “if there has been a criminal, civil or administration adjudication of fraud or misrepresentation in Minnesota or another state.” Continue reading

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Six take-aways from new federal school report

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From 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection

As the school year ended, we got a peek at what is really happening to the 50 million students in 95,000 U.S. public schools. The Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Education) released a first look at the 2013-14 Civil Rights Data Collection on June 7. That’s a whole lot of data, and more will come over the next few months. Here are six take-aways from the first round: Continue reading

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Quack grass, thistles and the Minnesota legislature


Photo by Miheco, published under Creative Commons license.


As I dug out weeds in the garden this morning, my thoughts turned to the just-ending legislative session. A bold, bright-eyed robin supervises as I dig out thistles and quack grass, pull creeping Charlie, and leave the milkweed for the butterflies.

Weeding is not my favorite part of gardening, but it’s essential. If I don’t keep at it, the thistles and quack grass will take over and choke out everything else. Still, pulling weeds is pointless, unless you also plant. Continue reading

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What is education for?

US Dept Education reading

Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Education, published under Creative Commons license.


Is preparing students for minimum wage labor the goal of public education? That’s what New York State argued in Campaign for Fiscal Equity (CFE) v. State of New York. The case dragged on from 1993 to 2006, with the New York appellate court eventually ruling that students deserve more than minimum education for minimum wage jobs. Last week, the Boston Review published a forum on the purpose of education, beginning with this case. While it doesn’t focus on the nuts-and-bolts arguments so often raised in debates over testing, educational equity and “reform,” the forum illuminates those issues as well.  Continue reading

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Stop feeding the kids


Photo by USDA, published under Creative Commons License. (20111025-FNS-RBN-School Lunch)

Six years ago Congress did something right. They said that high-poverty schools could skip the individual child-by-child means testing and just feed all the kids free breakfast and lunch. That saved hundreds of thousands of dollars previously spent on processing eligibility forms, as well as thousands of hours of teacher and parent time. More importantly, when everybody can eat for free, nobody has to feel singled out as “that poor kid getting a free lunch.” Free, in-school breakfasts increase the number of kids starting the day ready to learn. Now that the program is succeeding, Republicans in Congress want to roll it back.

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Money, grit and Galtier: School news round-up

school busI devour school news — probably far more of it than is good for my mental health. Several recent stories seem especially worth noting:

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Money, not pixie dust, for schools

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In Lake Wobegon, all the children are above average, and that’s pretty much the Minnesota motto for everything. We have above average biking cities, above average hipster neighborhoods, and above average funding for public education. Oops — scratch education off the list. NPR’s School Money series just popped that civic pride balloon. Continue reading


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Is there a right way to train better teachers?

The Hechinger Report’s three-part series on teacher education programs offers fascinating glimpses inside three classrooms, alongside appalling pictures of first-year teachers’ home lives. Meghan Sanchez has abandoned her teacher training program’s emphasis on ” 100 percent compliance with directions 100 percent of the time” as unrealistic for wiggly 4-year-olds who can’t always sit “criss-cross-applesauce” on command. Michael Duklewski has switched from correcting his middle-schoolers’ negative behavior to pointing out positive behavior, and finds that “I’m just happier, because I’m saying good things all the time instead of harping on bad things.”  Amit Reddy engages his eighth-grade science students in pouring liquids into a beaker to determine their density, but worries about the lagging grades of his “chatty” after-lunch class section. And all three of the featured first-year teachers get up before 6 a.m. and collapse into bed at night after working 12-15 hour days. They have little or no time for family life of their own.

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