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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Questioning Facts For Profit

Category: Education
Posted: 02/28/17 14:25

by Dave Mindeman

Here's another rational Republican bill from South Dakota.

SB55 would have allowed teachers to essentially teach anything they want as science as long as they used certain language.

Fortunately, this didn't make it out of the education committee. But the idea that it was even proposed leads me to wonder what is wrong with our legislative system. And this is really not new....

Since 2014, at least 60 "academic freedom" bills -- which permit teachers to paint established science as controversial -- have been filed in legislatures all over the country. Louisiana passed one in 2008, and Tennessee did, too, in 2012.

Academic freedom? From what, established scientific fact? This doesn't happen in other countries because they do not let corporations challenge things like this.

From the cigarette companies multi million dollar campaign to pretend cigarettes don't cause cancer...to the oil and gas corporations remake of their pollution driven profit machine....it is an assault on factual information.

And it is fueled by the Republican Party. In a Congress bought and paid for by corporate lobbyists, legislation is not driven by factual information - it is operated on the assumption of profit first.

And President Trump is one of the many results of this insistence on questioning science and facts. He has taken advantage of the question marks that corporations have managed to buy in regards to established science.

Advertising "alternative facts" is the new way to avoid making business clean up or make the workplace safer or prop up a dying market. Buy your way in...destroy the regulatory agencies...it is disgusting how much greed operates in this country.

We are choosing to destroy this planet for a few extra bucks.

Are we really going to allow our education system to be "rigged" into one huge corporate ad buy?

I didn't think it could be possible - now, I'm not so sure.
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ALERT: MN Is Dead Last In Education Support Services

Category: Education
Posted: 03/08/16 02:10

by Dave Mindeman

There is this Republican talking point that comes up every election year. It goes something like this....

We spend too much on education. You can't just keep throwing money at the problem and expect to get better results. It's not working.

MPR put together a study and this is one of the conclusions:

Many schools here and elsewhere have improved their graduation rates in part by following a simple formula of early intervention. They identify students who are at risk of dropping out, then match them with the support they need. But the effort requires staff power, and Minnesota as a whole lags in that support, especially for at-risk students. Schools here spend 2.6 percent of their education dollars on pupil support, a smaller portion than every other state. And it has been that way for a decade, according to an MPR News analysis.

We talk about the embarrassing achievement gap regarding students of color in Minnesota. We have talked and studied and commissioned to just about every possible angle, and still the problem remains unchanged.

We discuss the general needs of more revenue for the schools, but we don't get specific enough on the need for student support services. We need to identify and focus on students that need that extra help....that can help them overcome the barriers that leave them trapped without opportunity.

Here are some of the problems that this study identified....

1. Schools would need to spend $75 million a year more to get back to 2002 levels of student support.

2. To match the national average rate of 5.5 percent, they would have to add about $260 million, doubling what they spend now.

3. Today Minnesota has one of the most severe counselor crunches in the country, particularly in elementary schools.

4. State education officials say it would cost about $7 million to hire the number of high school counselors needed to bring Minnesota's ratio up to the national average.

5. The fastest-growing segment of the future workforce is students of color...the students least likely to earn diplomas.

6. If you're Hispanic, black, Asian-American or Native American, your chances of completing high school are worse in Minnesota than in almost any other state.

These are sobering facts. And Republican assertions that we are just throwing too much money around is just plain wrong. In 2006, Gov. Pawlenty proposed a plan that would require all districts to spend at least 70 percent of their budgets on classroom instruction. A noble undertaking, but in order to do that, support services had to be sacrificed....and we have never recovered. Identifying students at risk is the key to solving that achievement gap....and once they are identified, it is imperative that they have the student support services to help them.

Gov. Dayton has been repeatedly calling for more investment into early education. That is another key to solving this issue. Early learning can reduce the need for support services...it will not solve the problem alone, but it is a key component.

We need to look deeper into the achievement gap. We still need more investments, but they also must be smarter and more targeted investments.

One thing is certain though - do not buy the argument that we are spending too much on Minnesota education. Yes, it is a large portion of our budget, but that goes for almost all other states as well.

This is Minnesota and we expect better. We are better. Remember that during this legislative session.
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Daudt: Early Ed Is A Payoff To Education MN

Category: Education
Posted: 02/22/16 02:37

by Dave Mindeman

At the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce, legislative leaders sized up the coming session in several areas. But when the subject of early childhood education came up, Kurt Daudt decided to spout off....

Speaker of the House Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, accused DFLers of promoting universal pre-kindergarten in Minnesota's public schools as a result of campaign contributions from Education Minnesota, the state's teachers union. "This was pushed by the teachers union," Daudt said. "You increase the dues-paying members of the union by 8-10 percent. Democrats get money from unions."

So early childhood education is some kind of payoff to Education Minnesota? That seems to be Kurt Daudt's reasoning. Let's forget the merits of the issue and go right into partisan wrangling. Forget about kids, this is just a Democratic method of getting more teachers.

Man, what a bunch of hogwash.

The ironic thing about this is that his Senate counterpart, Minority Leader David Hann seemed to be in favor of early ed, at least in part...

Hann indicated that Art Rolnick, a senior fellow at the University of Minnesota and a former leader at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, provided him with "very good studies" that showed that targeted investments in early childhood education could help disadvantaged children.

You get broader help with full early ed across the board. But then what can happen when Kurt Daudt is blocking everything before it starts.

It looks like this legislative session is shaping up to be more of the same in the Minnesota House.
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