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What’s CTE? And It Increased High School Graduation Rates by HOW Much?

If I had to guess, there is a general sense among adults in general that high schools in Minnesota and elsewhere around the country currently offer many fewer shop classes then they used to.  They’re right if they think that. If I had to guess a second time, I would say people in general are less familiar with the rise of something called “Career and Technical Education,” which might be thought of as encompassing – and significantly adding to – the aims of old-time shop classes. My own aim here is to report on an important 2016 study that found, among other...

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The Educational Value of Beautiful and Physically Demanding Things

What follows is propelled by Center of the American Experiment’s multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree: Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” As a rule, I stay miles away from proposing that high schools expand their curricula to address assorted lists of societal problems.  I’ve been in meetings, for instance, when participants have said it’s essential that students take a required course regarding the personal and societal benefits of marriage.  An avid proponent of marriage as I may be, I’ve argued against these suggestions on two grounds: Such additions would further clutter what frequently are overstuffed curricula already. ...

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Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Here’s the lament we hear constantly from employers in Greater Minnesota: “We can’t find a skilled workforce—or grow as a community—because our kids can’t wait to leave town as soon as they finish high school.” One Minnesota high school—Wright Technical Center in Buffalo—is tackling this challenge head-on. Wright Tech is a consortium of eight school districts in Wright and Sherburne Counties, including Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose, Monticello, Delano, Maple Lake, Annandale, Big Lake, St. Michael-Albertville, and Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted. In 2015, Wright Tech launched a program called Creating Entrepreneurial Opportunities (CEO) using a model conceived by Illinois entrepreneur and educator Craig Lindvahl. Students in the program...

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An Impressive “Hand’s On, In-the-Seat” Program in Staples

Staples is 30 miles west of Brainerd in Minnesota Lake Country, hence the name Central Lakes College, with campuses in both cities. I spent an exceptionally profitable couple of hours at Staples’ two campuses last week when I was in town to speak about American Experiment’s new multi-year project “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree” at a dinner meeting sponsored by a group called “Crossroads Conservatives” at a restaurant and bar called “Twisted Sisters” (really).  In truth, the room didn’t seem terribly twisted at all and the crowd of approximately 35-40 men and women, plus a few high school students, wasn’t...

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Great Jobs and Inclusive Growth

My apologies in advance if what I write below about a recent conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis seems circular.  This is not a slam at the two-day meeting on “Opportunity and Inclusive Growth,” but rather pertains to the many inescapable connections among matters of education, families, jobs, income, wealth and other facts and conditions of local and national life.  Connections, for example, that are implicit in Center of the American Experiment’s major, multi-year initiative, “Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree:  Good News for Students, Parents, and Employers.” One of the speakers at the conference, held May 22-23,...

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Legislature Ends Special Session: News on Transportation, Met Council & Education

The Legislature concluded the special session early Friday morning, sending a flurry of budget bills to Governor Dayton. Roads and bridges will get $2 billion over 10 years in existing revenue from automotive-related taxes (so taxes are not raised) plus about a billion in new bonding. This was the big goal. The K-12 bill increases spending by $483 million in addition to $800 million in automatic increases, for a total budget of $18.75 billion (a 3.5% increase). ...

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Teachers Union Urges Resistance to DeVos & “Cruel” Education Budget

The national teachers union American Federation of Teachers (AFT) continues to "sound the alarm” on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. In a strongly worded call to action email, AFT President Randi Weingarten labels Secretary DeVos as a “public school denier” and someone who “doesn’t care” and is “ill-prepared” to be education secretary. Weingarten then goes after the Trump-DeVos budget proposal and urges readers to join forces with the union and “oppose this cruel and catastrophic budget.” The resistance DeVos has faced confirms her biggest fight for educational choice is against well-funded unions who oppose anyone that threatens their political power....

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Great Jobs for Grads Without a Four-Year Degree

American Experiment recently launched a new initiative called "Great Jobs Without a Four-Year Degree." It's a multi-year project to encourage parents, students and educators to consider alternatives to college. In the process, we hope to build recognition of and support for other routes to satisfying jobs and fulfilling careers via the many options available throughout Minnesota. With the Class of 2017 about to set off on their own, American Experiment's Mitch Pearlstein shared writer Matthew Crawford's wisdom on "Great Jobs" in a column for the Mankato Free Press. Crawford owns a motorcycle repair shop in Virginia, as well as a Ph.D. in political philosophy from the...

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Transgender Toolkit for MN Schools Based on Controversial Obama Rule

A controversial transgender and gender nonconforming “resource toolkit” drafted by the Minnesota Department of Education’s (MDE) School Safety Technical Assistance Council recently caught the attention of 67 Minnesota legislators. The 29 page document — “Toolkit to Ensure Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students” — purports to be a compilation of “best practices that schools can use" to address gender identity. The toolkit is based on a controversial Title IX transgender policy imposed by the Obama administration that is no longer in effect. ...

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Dayton sacrifices children on the altar of government unions, again

Dayton has tanked Opportunity Scholarships and from what I hear this morning, is threatening to veto a very, very generous spending package for K-12 schools because the bill did not fund his signature pilot program that adds a new grade for four-year-olds. I had hoped all that spending could be ransom money to save our kids. ...

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