Latest Posts





Should Teacher Layoffs Be Based on Seniority or Effectiveness?

The MN House will debate today whether seniority should continue to trump effectiveness. Proposed legislation would limit the role seniority plays when teacher layoffs occur due to budget cuts or student enrollment drops. Supporters of the bill believe staffing decisions should involve several factors to “keep the most effective teachers in the classroom.” Supporters of the current system, known as Last In, First Out, tout the importance of administering layoffs based on experience. Many teachers believe the seniority-based layoff system is a predictable one that recognizes experience… There is no denying experience is important. It is helpful in any profession. But experience alone does not...

Continue reading

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and the Updated Soulcraft of Motorcycle Maintenance

Mike Rowe is the impressive guy you may have seen in Ford commercials, but of more pertinent note, as the host of the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” and CNN’s “Somebody’s Gotta Do It.”  Speaking out passionately across the country on behalf of the trades – and playing off what Marco Rubio said in a presidential debate eons ago now about how we need fewer philosophers but more welders – Rowe has said things such as, “We need balance.  We can have both a welder who can quote Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and a philosopher who can weld.” Philosophically speaking, Aristotle or Sartre...

Continue reading

Minnesota Court of Appeals Dismisses Case Seeking Far-Reaching Busing Order

In November 2015, a Minneapolis lawyer named Dan Shulman filed a purported class action lawsuit on behalf of all children in the Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools. The lawsuit alleged that children in those school districts were being deprived of their right to an adequate education under Article XIII, Section 1, of the Minnesota Constitution. Defendants included the State of Minnesota and many others. The complaint alleged that the Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools are segregated, that such segregation is the cause of inadequate education experienced by all students in those school districts, and the remedy is a...

Continue reading

Why Do Colleges Get Away with Price Gouging and Predatory Lending Practices?

Jay Stooksberry, who used to work in college admissions and financial aid, has written a very provocative piece that deserves attention: “Selling Higher Education is Sleazier Than Selling a Used Car.” In a previous life, I worked in sales. But not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill brand of sales: I worked in a sleazy industry that championed predatory lending practices and distorted the pricing of its lackluster product, which often sent my clients spiraling down a rabbit hole of debt. And to make matters worse, this entire enterprise was buoyed by your tax dollars, so—regardless of macroeconomic patterns—this dubious marketplace remains untouchable. What...

Continue reading

Guess Who’s to Blame for the Skyrocketing Cost of Higher Ed

Ever wonder why the cost of college always goes up, never goes down, and has been rising so much faster than inflation?  The short answer is because out of control government has poured more and more funding into financial aid and loan programs since 1978, when federal aid first exploded.  It’s another prime example of how good-intentioned liberalism has created another big, expensive mess for our society.  Sometimes it’s better to base public policy on economic principles than to allow emotional appeals to “compassion” and “students” to repeatedly carry the day. Universities publish their “sticker price” but with all the financial...

Continue reading

What Kinds of Jobs Are We Talking About?

I’ve written several times in recent months about how Center of the American Experiment is gearing up for a multi-year project that will make the case that large numbers of young people, feeling pressed to seek four-year college degrees even though they really don’t want to, wind up dropping out, minus good jobs and routinely in big debt.  This is so even though they, in fact, could have won good jobs and started building solid middle-class careers if they had pursued different kinds of post-secondary training, including one- and two-year certificate programs in community and technical colleges, the excellent job...

Continue reading

Chile’s School Choice Success Story

America could learn a lot from Chile’s education success story.  Former Chilean ambassador Dario Paya wrote a brilliant Weekly Standard piece outlining their amazing turnaround after dramatically expanding school choice in 1980.  Before vouchers Chile was near the bottom of educational achievement in Latin American, now they are at the top.  And the reason has not been more spending! How did very poor and rural children fair under the new system? Chile recognized that some kids—primarily the very poor and rural—were being "left behind." But the way to fix that problem was not to get rid of vouchers, but to expand the...

Continue reading

Blocking the School House Door

I thought we had a consensus that blocking school house doors is a bad thing, but apparently not. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos made her first visit to a public school today, a middle school in Washington, D.C. A group of hateful protesters showed up and blocked her from entering the school: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pC_t5T2tGdg The Washington Teachers' Union also sponsored a demonstration, but they claim that the left-wing activists who blocked the school house door--shades of George Wallace!--were not with them. Whoever these people are, they should be ashamed of themselves. They are doing their best to deprive American children of more choice...

Continue reading

Mayhem In the Schools

The Center's Kathy Kersten has an article about violence in the St. Paul public schools in this month's City Journal. Over the last six months, Kathy has brought both local and national attention to this critical education issue. How can children possibly learn if they are constantly worried about their physical safety? In the Obama years, America’s public education system embarked on a vast social experiment that threatened to turn schools into educational free-fire zones. The campaign—carried out in the name of “racial equity”—sought to reduce dramatically the suspension rate of black students, who get referred for discipline at much higher...

Continue reading

Secretary Betsy DeVos: The First Cabinet Pick Ever Saved by the Vice President

We saw DeVos graciously take hits from people like Sen. Al Franken during her confirmation. Now that the confirmation muzzle is off, I would like to see DeVos land some blows of her own. If she is not aggressively making the case for educational choice, and calling out the government unions that enforce the status quo, they could succeed in making her the issue instead of advancing new policies. ...

Continue reading