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Survey says: Students struggling with remote learning

Based on Governor Walz's recent executive order, the state's guidance for public schools was updated yesterday to note that "all school districts and charter schools must offer a distance learning model that meets the educational needs of all students of families who choose not to receive in-person instruction." But now with schools choosing distance learning, not all parents have a choice, and given the challenges and shortcomings of distance learning, the educational needs of all students are not being met. Therefore, state leaders should help families access the learning environment that will meet their children's needs....

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COVID silver lining? Study finds pandemic may improve teacher quality

Harvard University Professor Martin R. West and his colleagues Markus Nagler and Marc Piopiunik studied more than 30,000 public school teachers in Florida and their students to identify whether economic recessions and job market challenges in the broader economy impact teacher quality. What they found is that individuals who enter the teaching profession during a recession are "significantly more effective at raising test scores."...

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Huge Numbers of St. Paul High School Students Failing Virtual Classes

It's hard to overstate the fiasco the St. Paul schools distance learning program has turned into for the city's high school students this fall. There's no sugarcoating the results in the dire outcomes  revealed in the Pioneer Press for thousands of struggling students. St. Paul Public Schools is exploring new ways to support students during distance learning as the number of failing grades has doubled in its high schools. Midway through the first quarter this fall, students were failing 39 percent of their high school classes, up from 19 percent last fall. St. Paul already ranked in the lower half of Minnesota school...

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MN Voters Approve Fewest K-12 Funding Levies Since 1996

It's not clear to what extent a backlash on the part of parents on how K-12 public schools are handling their children's education during the pandemic figures into the dismal results of local school funding measures on the ballot this year. But parental displeasure over distance learning and lack of direct access to teachers may partly explain why voters across the state approved fewer school operating levies than any year since Bill Clinton was president. MPR's report card reflected school districts' poor performance at the polls. Minnesota voters this week signed off on just half of school districts’ requests for getting more money...

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Gov. Walz issues new school guidance, but it falls short of what’s needed

Governor Walz has issued an executive order "authorizing the Commissioner of Education to take action to improve the education of Minnesota students during the 2020-2021 school year." Missing from the EO, though, is prioritizing in-person learning for all students, which would also help parents who, in many cases, have been left to juggle overseeing their children's education and their work obligations. If we aren't going to "follow the science," what is driving school decisions? ...

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‘Still left behind’: Achievement outcomes of low-income students persistently low

A recent report by the American Enterprise Institute, "Still Left Behind: How America's Schools Keep Failing Our Children," shows, among other things, that large proportions of lower-income eighth graders in Minnesota still fail to demonstrate minimum levels of competence in reading and math despite spending increases. Achievement gaps between lower-income and higher-income eighth graders also continue to persist. These findings are similar to findings in the Center's education report that was released in July. ...

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A ‘recipe for rational government’: Flexibility and choice in education

COVID-19 has disrupted the education landscape as we know it. But knowing what we know now about the virus and how schools aren't the super-spreaders they were once feared to be, plus the revealed shortcomings of delivering instruction in person, we must respond accordingly for the sake of student health and wellness. This includes giving parents the flexibility, funding, and support they need to fulfill the role of primary educator that many have found themselves in as schools remain closed....

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Frustration mounts over continued school closures. It’s time to give Minnesota parents more educational power.

Frustration over the inconsistency in shifting learning models and continued school closures is mounting among Minnesota parents. Thousands have taken to social media platforms to voice their concern about the negative impacts closed schools are having on their children. From academic loss to social/emotional challenges, data show that keeping children out of school is harmful. Our state leaders and policymakers can and should do a better job of giving all Minnesota families more educational power to help protect the health, wellness, and academic success of our students. ...

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