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The Importance of Listening Closely to Students and Recent Graduates in Technical Fields

A major topic at the first gathering (August 10) of the Advisory Council for “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” was a series of meetings my American Experiment colleagues and I hope to host for people in the multifaceted field.  It was an early conversation, and not just because it started at 7:30 a.m. A main gist of our discussion was that young people studying technical subjects, often in community colleges, as well as those who have been working in technical fields for several years, should be afforded more opportunities to share their stories on a regular basis with seasoned ladies...

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West Virginia leads the way in transforming high school CTE to boost the state’s economy

West Virginia has struggled for years with a declining economy, and an increasingly discouraged and disengaged high school population. Now the state is working to change that with an innovative new approach to Career and Technical Education, and the pay-off is inspiring, according to the New York Times: Long one of the poorest states, [West Virginia] is leading the way in turning vocational education from a Plan B for underachieving students into what policy makers hope will be a fuel source for the state’s economic revival. Simulated workplaces, overseen by teachers newly trained in important state industries like health, coal and even...

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Technical education can save parents from drowning in college debt

The move to broaden young people’s exposure to career paths beyond a four-year college degree just got a boost from the Wall Street Journal. The Journal reports that the default rate in the federal government’s Parents Plus program now exceeds that on U.S. mortgages at the peak of the housing crisis. According to the article, headlined “Parents Are Drowning in College Loan Debt,” Millions of U.S. parents have taken out loans from the government to help their children pay for college. Now a crushing bill is coming due. Hundreds of thousands have tumbled into delinquency and default. In the process, many have delayed...

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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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