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The Many Virtues and Similarities of Transatlantic Plumbing

The British government announced last week that it would spend 170 million pounds (the equivalent of about $213 million) developing a series of “Institutes of Technology” intended as “credible alternative[s]” to well-worn routes many young people take to more academically oriented universities.  As reported by Times Higher Education, the new Institutes are part of Prime Minister Theresa May’s industrial policy, in which “technical education will get a radical shake-up so as to ‘level the playing field’ for those who do not go to university.” The Prime Minister was “expected” to say that the strategy would be a “critical part of the...

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Critics of school choice bear the burden of proof now

Note: In recognition of School Choice Week we are reprinting this commentary by Center Founder Mitch Pearlstein, which appeared December 6, 1996 in the Pioneer Press.  Mitch and American Experiment have led this quest for real school choice from the very first days of the Center's founding 27 years ago.  Mitch currently chairs of OAK, Opportunity for All Kids, a diverse coalition of educational leaders and advocates, including the Minnesota Independent School Forum, The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Minnesota District, Center of the American Experiment, and the Minnesota Catholic Conference.   A useful way of evaluating Gov. Arne Carlson’s pathbreaking proposal on school choice is...

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Kim Crockett on the Betsy DeVos Nomination as Secretary of Education

Just in time to celebrate National School Week, Kim Crockett had a great conversation on KTLK’s “Justice and Drew” show about the Education Secretary nominee, Betsy DeVos, last week. You can listen to that conversation here. Here’s Kim: “Government union leaders are apoplectic over the DeVos nomination because DeVos has been defeating them at the local level for years. (Can we pause, just to enjoy that thought?) DeVos speaks up for teachers who see themselves as educators and professionals, not trade unionists.” And join us this Thursday! A COMMUNITY BREAKFAST IN CELEBRATION OF NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK (Click to register) Location: DeLaSalle High School, One...

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Chicago Tribune Defends Betsy DeVos and School Choice

The Chicago Tribune issued a terrific editorial last week supporting school choice, calling out senators for their unfair treatment of Betsy DeVos, and exposing Democrats' hypocrisy on the issue: Like many televised events on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Senate confirmation hearing of Secretary of Education nominee Betsy DeVos alternated between interrogation and crass disparagement. DeVos tried to answer loaded policy questions, mostly from Democrats, only to be interrupted by senators whose aim was to discredit her qualifications. Sen. Elizabeth Warren once supported vouchers U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., waved off DeVos after the Tuesday evening hearing, refusing to shake her hand. Like DeVos, Warren once supported school choice and...

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U.S. Senator recalls Minnesota’s historical contribution to School Choice at Betsy Devos Hearings

School Choice Advocate Betsy DeVos was in the U.S. Senate last week for hearings on her nomination to be the new Secretary of Education. Senator Lamar Alexander, the former Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush, made the case at the top of the hearing for the fact that school choice, and charter schools in particular, have support across a broad political spectrum and noted further that charter schools were started in Minnesota by a DFL governor by the name of Rudy Perpich. That was back in 1991. It is fair to ask, what has Minnesota done for students and teachers...

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Betsy DeVos and Over-the-Top Fears of Privatizing Public Schools to Their Last Stub of Chalk

As you read what follows about how charter schools came to be in 1991, you may want to keep track of the number of early players whose animus towards the public sector was fevered, as they were crazed right-wingers enveloped exclusively in the hot amour of markets.  (Hint: No one I knew.) You may also think about the barrage of rhetorical bullets aimed at Secretary of Education-designee Betsy DeVos over the last several weeks for allegedly seeking to deny educational opportunities for every poor child in the country by privatizing public schools to their last stub of chalk.  I overstate, but...

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What if the University of Minnesota was less politically correct?

Perhaps you’ve seen the University of Minnesota’s memorable TV commercials that are part of their “Driven to Discover” campaign.  Two of the ads feature faculty describing their noble research efforts to “abolish hunger” and “end drug addiction.”  But another ad oozes a much more politically correct flavor as a research assistant proclaims “I am driven to train activists to develop new policies for social change.” Center founder and proud U of M grad Mitch Pearlstein penned a terrific piece that proposes “ten more diverse goals” that scholars could take up to both fuel the University’s drive forward and please ideologically put-off...

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Driving Occasionally on the Right

Chances are you’ve seen commercials on television as part of the University of Minnesota’s long-running “Driven to Discover” campaign.  Typical ones have faculty members standing in front of Northrop Auditorium saying things such as “I am driven to end world hunger.”  Or “I am driven to grow more food with fewer resources.”  Or “I am driven to end addiction.”  Goals like these are as noble as noble gets, free of politically correct skewing. At least a portion, though, of the campaign’s print component has a different flavor, with one ad in particular saying: “I am driven to train activists to develop...

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Proudly Detailing Sexual Assaults

Silly antediluvian me.  Until my early teens, when daydreaming about what college was like, I’d envision guys wearing elbow-patched tweed jackets and smoking pipes.  I imagined them dressed up at fraternity parties along with coifed-up coeds.  And my mind’s eye saw the young men – who seemed quite old – playing football. While I couldn’t replay conversations they might be having, I did have a sense college men enjoyed talking about Great Books and Big Ideas, at least when they weren’t talking about Big Games and Big Dances.  What can I say?  For a lazy and incompetent junior high school student,...

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Increasing Educational Alternatives is the Opposite of Tracking

There seems to be a movement in American education to call young students “scholars,” with the salutation more prevalent in schools with high proportions of minority and low-incomes boys and girls.  The idea and aim being that kids should start, as early as possible, envisioning themselves as eventually attending and graduating college, and working diligently every day to get there. Question:  How might this benign news fit with American Experiment’s new project aimed at encouraging more young people – if that is their choice – to consider educational options other than four-year collegiate degrees as routes to good jobs and solid...

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