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New lawsuit aims to bring race-based busing back to Minnesota

The era of race-based busing of Minneapolis schoolchildren—1974 to 1995—marks one of the greatest debacles in the city’s history. Busing tore apart neighborhoods and cost taxpayers millions of dollars. Black academic achievement—far from rising, as promised—actually declined during the last five years of the busing regime. By 1995, Sharon Sayles Belton, the city’s black mayor, was demanding an end to the practice and a return to neighborhood schools. Now a new lawsuit aims to bring race-based busing back to Minnesota. It would do so on a scale that would dwarf what we saw in Minneapolis. The class-action suit, filed last November in...

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Arrests Provide Teachable Moment on Teacher Union Politics

On Tuesday, hundreds of teachers attending the American Federation of Teachers convention in Minneapolis joined a Black Lives Matter march through the city’s downtown. They said they were protesting the recent police-involved killing of Philando Castile, a St. Paul Public Schools’ employee. Twenty-one teachers—including Minnesota union leaders—were arrested after blocking streets for three hours. Two quotes from news reports caught my eye. The first was from Denise Rodriguez, president of the St. Paul Federation of Teachers. According to MPR, Rodriguez said the federation is committed to the Black Lives Matter movement, and Castile’s death is a tipping pint. ‘We can’t just go out and march and...

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Parents’ Lawsuit Threatens Education Minnesota’s Grip on Schools

Are Education Minnesota's union rules protecting incompetent classroom teachers a key factor in the state's appalling achievement gap for poor and minority students? That's the gist of a lawsuit being brought by four families today in Ramsey County District Court. The action would eliminate controversial teacher tenure rules that that prevent schools from controlling hiring and firing, while protecing incompetent teachers. It's a dagger at the heart of a system that has failed underprivileged children and rewarded the status quo. Four parents from the St. Paul, Duluth, Anoka-Hennepin and West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan districts filed the lawsuit in April saying teacher tenure and staff cuts...

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Met Council Seeks to Promote Trailer Parks In Suburbs

I often find myself at odds with the Metropolitan Council, but I confess to mixed feelings about this one. The Star Tribune reports that the Met Council is "push[ing] to preserve mobile home parks in suburbs." She is one of 39,000 people living in 83 mobile home parks in the Twin Cities suburbs. Protecting those parks, some of which are now in peril, is the easiest way to preserve affordable housing in the suburbs, according to a new Metropolitan Council report. The report, titled " Manufactured Home Park Preservation Project," is here. The MHP Preservation Project is part of the Met...

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Defending the Rights of Schools that Teach Self-Sacrifice

Much is rightly made about the importance of tolerance and sensitivity on the part of religious majorities towards religious minorities. But what about the reverse?  What about the importance of tolerance and sensitivity on the part of religious minorities when it comes to public expressions of spiritual belief by those in the majority? This latter question was what I asked journalist Mona Charen to talk about at an American Experiment luncheon program twenty years ago after I read a syndicated column of hers on the topic.  Her presentation remains one of my favorites, as does the paper we later released containing...

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St. Paul Superintendent Let Go In Wake of Controversy Over School Violence

Yesterday the St. Paul school board fired its superintendent of schools, Valeria Silva. Silva's contract was bought out with a package estimated at $787,500. Silva's firing follows an explosive series of local and national columns by the Center's Kathy Kersten on violence in the St. Paul public schools. In the most horrifying case, a teacher suffered brain damage when he was beaten by a student in his own classroom. But that was just one of many violent incidents--so many that the teachers' union threatened a strike. Violence in the St. Paul schools was widely attributed to the "equity" initiative that began in...

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Apprenticeships (No, Not His Kind)

Here’s a piece of good educational news; a welcomed byproduct of less-encouraging educational news. There would seem to be a growing appreciation across the nation for the kind of education in which students learn to use their hands – not just for typing and eating as I mostly use mine – but for constructing, beautifying, operating, maintaining, and fixing physically tangible things.  Essential and valued (often undervalued) items from jeweled rings to piston rings.  Elevators which lift people to elevators which lift grain.  A Viking stadium for downtown to a Viking ship for show.  Men and women who cut hair to...

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How Did Education Fare Legislatively? Less than Fair.

With the overwhelming preponderance of media coverage of the recently concluded legislative session focusing on transportation, taxes, and bonding, most people remain unaware that we – meaning everyone in Minnesota – got closer to winning a major school choice victory than any other time in nearly twenty years. How close?  A bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives from both the House and Senate had agreed on a plan to give tax credits to individuals and businesses which made contributions to scholarship granting organizations (SGOs), which, in turn, would award scholarships to low-income students so they might attend schools of their families’...

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Taxpayers Press for Referendum Re-Do in Bid to Halt School Construction

Rushford-Peterson Schools bond referendum passed in 2014, construction started in 2015, but a citizens group wants to turn back the clock in 2016 on the controversial $38 million project in the works. “We’re hoping we can put a stop to it. It will cost a lot of money given what’s happened, but not nearly as much, as if this goes for 20 years,” said Maynard Thompson, a retired R-P middle school principal who opposes the new school. “They’re pushing construction like crazy, to try and get it so far along, that it can’t be stopped.” After R-P school board members rejected a...

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The Dangerous Listing of American Education

I participated on a panel earlier this week on the stubborn persistence of achievement gaps, and as you might guess, at the first opening I jumped in and started talking about the importance of giving parents more opportunities to send their children to private schools, if they believe doing so is in their children’s best interest. I said what I said because research is clear that many lower-income and minority kids (not all) do better in private schools, very much including religious ones, than they otherwise might in public schools. I can’t say this was met by wild agreement, or frankly...

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