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Thursday, February 16, 2006

Republican education plan

Sometimes, bands put out a "Greatest Hits" album that brings together everybody's favorite songs. However, usually these songs are popular. Few people put out "Greatest Flubs" albums. But the Republicans are doing just that with their education plan this year. It consists of plans that have all failed in the past. I guess they have a problem with "the vision thing."

So what is it?

• Vouchers: Next. Seriously. Vouchers, yet again? What brilliant leadership.

• Banning teacher strikes during the school year: May as well ban teacher strikes period, because that's what this would accomplish. There's not much point to a strike if you can't strike when you are supposed to be, you know, working.

• Streamlining teacher licensing: Meh. The devil is in the details.

• Prohibiting school employees from using school time and resources to work for or against political candidates or proposed legislation: Again, the devil is in the details. Sure, people shouldn't be using school computers to print out campaign literature. But what about advocacy, what about the principal who writes to his legislator to say, "Please vote against this bill as it would negatively impact our school in these ways..."? That seems legitimate.

• A science/math magnet academy: Not a bad idea.

By and large, an underwhelming list. Minnesota used to be an innovator in education. Now, some people apparently aren't concerned about that.


At 5:26 PM, February 25, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I support vouchers because at least parents &t axpayers will get what they pay for!
Second, the State of MN financially supports charter schools. So, the state is already giving a voucher, only by another name and without the same type of parental choice & control.

Instead of banning teacher strikes, I would look at the structure and role of unions. That seems to be the root of the conflict.

Teacher licensing is important. In 1996, Sen, Larry Pogemiller (DFL-59) tried to pass a bill which would allow minority teachers to get a license even if they failed the state's basic skills test. The bill failed. I think all teachers should demonstrate a mastery of skills and knowledge. And teachers should not be tenured without having a good performance record for a certain number of years AND passing a re-certification test.

School time to support political issues--again ties in to unions. Unions have become special interest groups that use school funds to lobby for their own interests and projects. When this happens, schools no longer focus on students but instead seek to further the power of the unions. If a school needs to write to a legislator or to ask for help--that is very different than working for, and campaigning for a candidate. School advocacy should involve parents and school officials to write the letters and offer their testimony; but that should not interfere with the curriculum nor should it seek to influence the role of the teacher.

There is a science/math charter school opened in Columbia Heights. I think its called the Academy of Bio Sciences. The Saturn School (now called the Wellstone school--how ironic!) also focuses on science and math.
I think more schools should focus on implementing Core Knowledge Curriculum. Not all students will attend or be attracted to science/math schools...to really impact the population of students we need to strengthen the curriculum. Core Knowledge has alot to offer.

Other Education Initiatives include:
Gov. Pawlenty introduced a plan to encourage children to be fit & healthy as part of school curriculum called "Fit Kids". Gov. Pawlenty gave schools vouchers to buy computers & software so children are learning with the best technology available. Gov. Pawlenty proposes that 70% of school funding should be spent in the classroom. What do you think of these measures?


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