Latest Posts





A Teachable Moment for State Teaching Board

For years the Minnesota Board of Teaching has largely ignored licensing reforms passed by legislators. The reforms were aimed in part at easing the statewide teacher shortage by speeding up the process for licensing out-of-state teachers moving here.  The changes were also designed to attract a more diverse teaching corps to address Minnesota's embarrassing achievement gap in inner city classrooms. Teachers went to court to get the state agency to follow laws passed to streamline the licensing system. The Minnesota State Legislative Auditor last year issued a critical report on the Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education's practices. Legislators...

Continue reading

Former MN Teacher of the Year Gets the Boot Under Last In, First Out System

School’s out early for Thomas Rademacher, the 2014 Minnesota Teacher of the Year. Despite being awarded the state’s highest educational honor by MN's largest teachers union and honored by President Obama at the White House in 2015, Rademacher recently lost his job under the Last In, First Out (LIFO) policy. Under this layoff system, seniority trumps effectiveness. And while Rademacher’s effectiveness in the classroom won him the award, it wasn’t enough to save his job from the status quo....

Continue reading

Why 4-Year-Olds Should Beat Governor Dayton Back with an Olive Branch

The Governor’s office, DFL leaders and the teachers union, Education Minnesota, have made it clear that once again, one of their top priorities remains “Universal Pre-K” in Minnesota. Unless Senators want to fund their political opponents, let’s hope Senators follow the House’s lead and fund school readiness instead. It's a respectable start. ...

Continue reading

Political Correctness and “Alternative Bureaucracies”

I’ve just read the most insightful essay I’ve ever seen on a key source of political correctness in American higher education and the intellectual and other absurdities that have flooded ever after. The author is Neil Gilbert, the Milton and Gertrude Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social Services at the University of California, Berkeley.  His article “Institutionalized Discontent,” published last year, is one of his more than 140 articles and 32 books.  With such a history, you might think that (1) as holder of an endowed chair in social welfare and social services (sorry for the italics), Professor Gilbert might...

Continue reading

Students at Gustavus: White Lab Rats?

Provocative posters were put up by a student group at Gustavus Adolphus College on Tuesday in “an effort to start a dialogue about diversity and immigration.” Except students didn’t know the posters, and their reactions to the posters, were part of a “social experiment.” And that didn't go over well. The signs said: “A notice to all white Americans. It is your civic duty to report any and all illegal aliens to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They are criminals. America is a white nation.”...

Continue reading

St. Olaf Hate Threatens Conservative Students: At Least Two Leave School

Anti-Trump hysteria has swept over St. Olaf College.  According to an article in Manitou Messenger, the student newspaper, many conservatives face a hostile environment and report they have been violently threatened because of their beliefs.  Consequently, these students “keep their heads down” in class, hid their political beliefs, and at least two are leaving the school because of such an ugly atmosphere on campus.  Drudge even picked up a story on the situation written by higher education news website The College Fix. In the Classroom “I’m fine being political with a one-on-one discussion,” Larson said, “but when everyone else is liberal in...

Continue reading

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