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Monday, June 19, 2006


Governor Pawlenty said recently that schools are in a silent crisis, and they need to change the way that they are run. This would involve more rigorous curricula, but other than that few details were offered.

My first thought: it's June 19th. An election is a few months away. The legislature is no longer in session, thus there is no chance to actually change how schools are run. Can anybody say election ploy? We weren't born yesterday. Maybe Governor Pawlenty should have made these suggestions when he could do something about it?

As for the proposals themselves, to the extent that there is information (such as more IB or AP classes, creating magnet schools for science and math, and so on) they are great ideas. I definitely think that schools need to be more rigorous and standards need to be much higher. I also disagree with Mike Hatch when he says that "throwing around" small grants won't improve our schools. No, it's not a complete solution, but small pilot projects are a good idea and allow for the laboratory of democracy to work.

I do, however, share Rep. Mindy Greiling's questions about how serious these proposals are. Aside from the fact that he is putting them forward now when he can't do anything about them, has Governor Pawlenty done a whole lot in his current office or as a member of the state House? I can't really think of much. Getting rid of the Profile of Learning was a big deal, but that was a bipartisan effort that was all but inevitable. Aside from that, nothing he has done has really swept the state's schools by storm.

Part of the problem is that too often, Republican "ideas" for reforming schools are nothing more than backhanded slaps at the teachers union. It's not much of a secret that many Republicans see the union as an enemy, but since the union exists it must be dealt with. While like any union, the teachers union looks out for its own members first, a true leader's job is to get all stakeholders together and convince them that they share the same goals. So far, I haven't seen that from this governor. There is no doubt some resistance to certain school reform plans from the union, but what is he doing about it?

Color me skeptical.


At 11:20 AM, June 20, 2006, Anonymous Jlubby said...

Oh, yeah. Wasn't there some plan that was being worked on a while ago for that sort of standards thing? Weren't they working on it for, like, 10 years to make sure it was up to snuff? Gosh, I'm trying to remember. I think it started with a "P". Oh, right! The Profiles of Learning!

Please don't do us all a disservice and reinforce the biggest piece of revisionist history this state has scene in the last five years. The Profile died because people like Michelle Bachmann wanted to kill it and a lot of other people had no idea what it was.


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