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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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DHS says all-day Kindergarten has reduced pre-school options for parents

I was on the Department of Human Services (DHS) website today looking for some information about refugees in Minnesota. We had hoped to release our paper on the impact of the refugee program on the state budget at the end of the year but hit a data wall. Neither the feds nor the state keeps good data. And much of the data that is available is massaged to hide the costs, the facts. So we are building a model to give you a good estimate of the cost impact of this federal program on the state budget. (Spoiler alert: the feds...

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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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Why are Scooby Doo and Michael Scott on MN Sanctuary Campus Petition?

The movement to declare institutions of higher learning sanctuary campuses "for students who face potential deportation under the new President-elect" appears to be losing momentum. The University of Illinois, New Mexico State University and others have declined to go out of their way to pick a fight with the new administration by declaring their campuses off-limits to immigration enforcement. It might fizzle out even faster if administrators and media take the petitions presented to them at more than face value. A closer look at a Minnesota college petition reveals more issues with undocumented signatories than undocumented students on campus. At the College...

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Universities Face Loss of Funding Over Sanctuary Campuses

Donald Trump's pledge to crack down on sanctuary cities like Minneapolis and St. Paul and roll back Obama's executive amnesty orders for students, among others, has led to calls for sanctuary campuses across the country. Many of the college students and faculty clamoring for such sanctuaries would be hard-pressed to explain what the designation means in practice. But that hasn't stopped 1,500 from supporting a petition at the University of Minnesota to ban campus police from investigating immigration cases and help immigrant students facing deportation to lawyer up. UOM President Erik Kaler released a statement that on the surface offers his  support. “The...

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Chicago Tribune: Betsy DeVos’s Education Department Could Create Incentives for States to Expand Vouchers

The Chicago Tribune just penned an excellent editorial in support of reformer Betsy DeVos to head the U.S. Department of Education: A few weeks ago, Massachusetts voters rejected a major expansion of charter schools statewide. In Chicago, a new teachers union contract limits charter capacity and threatens to strangle the growth of excellent charter schools in the city. The NAACP has demanded a moratorium on charter expansion nationally. Into this charter-chilling atmosphere steps Betsy DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the U.S. Department of Education. We like DeVos. Opinions vary: Karen Lewis, head of the Chicago Teachers Union, calls her a...

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Reading on the One Hand, Writing on the Disjointed Other

It was reported this week that national high school graduation rates reached an all-time high of 83.2 percent for the 2014-15 school year.  This is good news.  As is the fact that there were improvements among all racial and ethnic groups.  Good news again. But the Associated Press reported that the “gains come against a backdrop of decreasing scores on national math and reading tests.”  This is not good at all. It’s also confusing, or at least intriguing news, as one might imagine that if students are doing better when it comes to attainment (graduating high school), they also should be doing...

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