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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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Is There a Connection between Education Spending and Student Achievement?

This is the newest installment in Dr. Pearlstein’s year-long review of how Minnesota students are doing compared to students in other states, and more broadly, how American students are doing compared to counterparts elsewhere in the world.  As with the last one, which looked at how boys in the United States are doing compared to how girls are doing in our country (not well was the answer), this iteration also asks an important contextual question:  What are the connections, if any, between how much money Americans have spent on education over the last four decades, and how well have American...

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Political Correctness and the Sociology of Ignorance

A few bulleted, campaign-inspired thoughts about political correctness, which I started writing about in the 1970s.  One of the best things I wrote in graduate school back then was a paper titled “Academic Values and Liberal Orthodoxy,” in which the latter two words were stand-ins for PC.  It was a paper that my professor – a wonderful scholar but no right-winger – called a “contribution to the sociology of ignorance,” which she really did mean as a compliment. A condensed definition of both “political correctness” and “incorrectness” deals with issues and/or viewpoints that people (disproportionately on the right) are pressed not...

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Oh, Boys

This is the newest installment in Dr. Pearlstein’s year-long review of how well Minnesota and U.S. students are doing in various international and other comparisons.  This one takes a different tack as it highlights how much better American girls and young women are doing compared to American boys and young men, educationally and in other ways.  “International Women’s Day” will be celebrated at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs on March 8.  I can only presume what will be said or claimed there, but any number of participants will be longtime friends and colleagues, making me confident in...

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