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Pensions are under pressure, but unions misplace the blame

Minnesota’s unfunded public pension obligations are not a new problem. But reform is difficult when government unions turn a blind eye to shortchanged pension funds and oppose necessary steps to fix the broken system. Several of the state’s public sector unions—including Education Minnesota, SEIU, and AFSCME Council 5—retweeted a cartoon about pensions with a perilous message about the state of defined benefit plans. The unions are scaring their members into thinking pensions will disappear because of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on Janus v. AFSCME, conveniently excluding the fact that Minnesota has had pension liabilities each year for almost a...

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Urban Minority Students Aren’t Getting the Education They Need

In 1970, Minnesota was among the states with the least income inequality. Black household median income was competitive with white households, and Hispanic incomes were nearly identical to white households. Since then, the racial wage gap has increased significantly despite remaining mostly unchanged in the rest of the country. Why are black and Hispanic families so much worse off in Minnesota? The answer is likely the result of several variables. Immigration patterns, language barriers, and skill deficiencies may all contribute to Minnesota’s growing income gap. One important factor, however, is the education system....

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Taxpayers to Get Squeezed After Minneapolis School District Mismanages Their Budget, Again…

The Minneapolis School District can't seem to get their act together. The district overspent by $21.6 million last year, now the school district is seeking to raise property taxes by $18 million in a referendum on the ballot this fall. If you live in Minneapolis, you can see what these additional levies will cost you by clicking here. The Minneapolis School District has been badly mismanaged. According to a Star Tribune article from last year, auditors highlighted seven areas of financial missteps, including problems in budgeting, payroll and approval of district purchasing cards. "Some employees remained on payroll after they left the district...

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Evidence suggests that moving away from seniority pay improves teacher quality

Public policy must deal with the world as it is, not as we would wish it to be. As in any profession, some teachers are better than others. We might wish that more effective teachers paid the same as less effective teachers would work just as hard, but theory, and new evidence from Wisconsin, suggest that this is not the case. If we want to get the best out of our teachers, we need a labor market structured to encourage that. ...

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MN Teachers’ Union Calls Attention to Center’s Employee Freedom Project and Billboards

Education Minnesota President Denise Specht uses her column in the union's publication, Minnesota Educator to call out the Center’s EducatedTeachersMN project and its electronic billboards that welcomed union officials and delegates to the NEA's national convention held in Minneapolis this summer. Specht’s criticism of the signage? The blackboard background....

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Minnesota Needs to Address Labor Shortage in Education Curricula

Why do most schools around the country have a three-month break every summer? The nine-month school year was adopted over a century ago, so children could work on the farms during prime harvesting months. This is an example of the public education system adapting to the economy. The top priority for any public education system should be preparing the students to be productive members of society, including preparing them to join the labor force. Currently, one of the top issues with the Minnesota economy is a labor shortage. Not just any labor, but high skilled labor in technical fields that require...

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U of MN struggles to attract local students. Drafted pronoun policy isn’t a good recruitment strategy.

Fall 2018 classes will begin September 4 at the University of Minnesota, but enrollment data shows the university loses more local college-bound students to neighboring states than it attracts. The U is considering a new "gender identity" policy that would require students and professors to use the names, gender identities and pronouns specified to them or risk discrimination or harassment charges and face potential punitive measures including academic expulsion or termination from employment.  ...

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Teachers want unions to focus more on professional needs, but are they listening?

Thanks to Janus, government unions have an opportunity to reboot for the better, but they are faced with a choice: Will they continue prioritizing political objectives unrelated to meeting the needs of their members? Or will they be more attentive and responsive to professional interests?...

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