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Teacher Absenteeism a Big Problem in MN Public Schools

It used to be students who got in trouble for skipping school. But a new national report card out this week gives teachers at traditional public schools an F for absenteeism in comparison to the amount of class time missed by charter school teachers. The Thomas B. Forham Institute report finds teachers in traditional public schools are about three times more prone to be chronically absent at least ten days per school year for sick and personal leave than their charter school counterparts. Altogether, some 28 percent of teacher in traditional public schools miss more than two school weeks a year...

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Higher Education and Careers: Schumpeter’s Creative Construction

One of the virtues of writing a book is that an endnote in somebody else’s book leads you to track down a third book you should have read a long time ago.  Yes, I know I need to get out more often. The book I’m currently working on grew out of American experiment’s new, multi-year project, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good news for Students, Parents, and Employers.”  The second book in the sequence above is “From Shop Class to Soulcraft” by Matthew Crawford.  With the third book a classic written by economist Joseph Schumpeter in 1942, “Capitalism, Socialism and...

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Perpetual Omissions in Stories about Minnesota’s Achievement Gaps

The Pioneer Press ran a long story by Christopher Magan on Sunday about Minnesota’s immense achievement gaps.  (“15 Years Later, MN Schools are More Segregated, and Achievement Gap has Barely Budged,” August 20).  Two short comments. [Pioneer Press photo]. Magan is a good reporter, but the closest he came to saying that students have any responsibility whatsoever to work hard was the following, having to do with a meeting of the “Reimagine Minnesota” initiative. “Students filled the walls with sticky notes full of ideas, with a consensus centered around improving relationships with staff and giving students more ownership of their learning. “‘I know...

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MN Public Schools Miss the Mark: Test Results Stagnant, Achievement Gap Persists

The Center’s president John Hinderaker recently wrote about the most recent student test scores in Minnesota, revealing an all-too-familiar trend of mediocre performance in the state’s public schools. According to the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs), students’ scores in math and science dropped and reading scores flatlined from 2016 to 2017. As Hinderaker noted, these results have been typical for more than a decade. And accompanying them is a persistent achievement gap between white and minority scores....

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The DFL’s “Young Learners” Marching to Pre-School This Fall

Children of all ages need to play and get lots of rest. Nursery school-age children, even at-risk kids who may need our special care and support, do not belong institutional settings like schools, nor do they need to learn a whole more than the fact that learning is really fun. Make ideas, colors, numbers and shapes available at home, nursery programs or child care....

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What Do We Do When School Reform Fails?  Redux.

Twenty-seven years ago, Center of the American Experiment hosted a daylong conference with the less-than-inspiring name, “What Do We Do When School Reform Fails?”  Dreary as the title was, it perfectly captured the “two pessimistic assumptions [that] underlined the event’s main question: ‘What Do We Do When School Reform Fails?’” As you read the several indented paragraphs below about those assumptions, please keep in mind news stories earlier this week about how poorly many students faired most recently on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, or MCAs.  Try to recall as well the dispiriting gist of headlines such as “Minnesota Test Results...

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Another Year of Mediocrity for Minnesota’s Public Schools

Today the Star Tribune reported on the most recent student test scores in Minnesota. The results were typical of past years: the performance of Minnesota's public schools is mediocre, and in some cases, poor. New statewide test results reveal a familiar tale of woe for Minnesota schools: No improvements in math and reading, nor in the state’s stubborn achievement gap. “Frustrating,” Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius termed it in a statement Monday. Not so frustrating, of course, that the education bureaucracy plans to make any significant changes. Minnesota's white/minority achievement gap is among the largest in the country, and it isn't getting any smaller: Five years...

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What If Rudy Perpich Were Still Fighting for School Choice?

Leadership makes a difference for better or for worse. American Experiment's Mitch Pearlstein reflects on what might have been with a landmark school choice bill if Gov. Mark Dayton's mentor, the late Gov. Rudy Perpich, had still been in charge. This column was published today in the Hibbing Daily Tribune.  If only Rudy Perpich were still among us. A DFLer from Hibbing, Perpich was governor of Minnesota for a record 10 years over two different stretches in the 1970s and 1980s. He also was the first governor of any state, regardless of party, who pushed through legislation, in his second stint, allowing families...

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Teachers’ Union President Says School Choice is Racism

Randi Weingarten—the union boss of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)—took her criticism of school choice to a new low in a fiery speech she gave at AFT’s annual convention in Washington, D.C. Her baffling statements labeled anyone who supports alternatives to the traditional public school system as racist. And she claimed school choice programs are “only slightly more polite cousins of segregation.” School choice empowers families and children. But it threatens the teachers' union and Ms. Weingarten’s power....

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“I Come to Mostly Praise Higher Education, Not Bury It”

As a young guy, I had planned on making my life in higher education – or the “academy” as I liked to say – not that things worked out back then.  Nearly four decades later I can’t deny I was disappointed and often angry when things didn’t mesh.  But what I can say is that I am exceedingly pleased my career has worked out the way it has, as the sense of satisfaction I’ve derived from conceiving and then leading Center of the American Experiment for a long time has been grander, I’m confident, than any fulfillment I could have...

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