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Student Performance is Slipping, but Minnesotans Still Love Their Schools.

About the pollster: Rob Autry, founder of Meeting Street Research, is one of the nation’s leading pollsters and research strategists. Minnesotans love their system of public education, despite persuasive evidence that schools are consistently underperforming their reputation. The survey was conducted by pollster Rob Autry, president and founder of Meeting Street Research based in Charleston, South Carolina. His company completed 500 phone interviews, with a mix of cell phones (40 percent) and landline phones (60 percent), on March 5 and 7, 2020. The margin of error is ±4.38 percent. Meeting Street executed its study alongside a troubling report by American Experiment Policy...

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What can we do to help young people become independent and analytical thinkers?

This column originally appeared in the Fall 2019 issue of Thinking Minnesota, now the second largest magazine in Minnesota.   To receive a free trial issue send your name and address to info@americanexperiment.org. The earnest children who skipped school the other day to protest our government’s handling of climate change might be surprised to learn that their revered Green New Deal has at best a tenuous connection to climate. Just ask Saikat Chakrabarti, the man who was chief of staff in the office of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez when she first hatched the idea. During an interview with the Washington Post this summer,...

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George Will’s Campaign Guarantee about Family Fragmentation

Columnist George Will, at the Minnesota Business Partnership’s Annual Dinner last Thursday (September 19), guaranteed that no presidential candidate between now and Election Day next year would say anything whatsoever about family fragmentation and the enormous problems it causes. He’s almost surely right, of course, as never has the United States faced a problem as large as the “disintegration of families” (as Will put it) in which otherwise insightful and brave leaders have said so little insightful or brave.  Recall for instance – with past serving as ongoing prologue – how neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton said Word One about...

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Inescapable Reality, Not Victim Blaming

Over the course of a recent two-day period (August 30-31), the Star Tribune ran at least four stories or editorials dealing with racial disparities. “Disparities in Maternal Deaths ‘Staggering,’” by Marissa Evans. “Math and Reading Scores Drop,” by Erin Golden and MaryJo Webster. “Spotlighting Racial Disparities,” by Patrick Condon. “Face Up to Gaps in Student Test Scores,” an unsigned editorial. Nothing said by anyone in the news stories was out of the ordinary.  Same with arguments in the editorial.  But that’s a major reason why the very real problems cited won’t get much better, as there wasn’t a single reference, or...

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Voluntary Pre-K held at 2017 level, but does not target neediest children

Minnesota is spending enormous sums of money on education programs for very young children, but the state’s mission is muddled and the results discouraging. Plus, the policy forces private child care providers to compete with “free” child care, threatening to create a government monopoly on child care. The good news is that the Senate held the line, with no increase in spending, and Gov. Walz, is showing some independence from the teachers’ union. ...

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A Burden Don Fraser Learned to Bear

My favorite personal memory of Don Fraser, who died earlier this week at 95. Sometime in the mid-1980s, Don, who was then mayor of Minneapolis, said something about “unsupported women.”  By which he meant how it was personally unfair and socially unwise that so many women were left to raise their children without the help of husbands and fathers.  While he didn’t use politically risky terms such as “nonmarital births” or “out-of-wedlock births,” it still was a remarkably courageous – truly progressive – thing for a liberal Minnesota politician to talk and write about in the ‘80s – or still. I was...

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By Far the Largest Observable Factor

The number of scholars and journalists who write frequently about the effects of family fragmentation in the United States is not large; certainly not as large as the severity of the problem suggests and demands.  But of those who do, Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute is one of the best and most important.  Her 2007 book, Marriage and Caste in America remains pivotal, and her essays and other contributions for organizations websites such as the Institute for Family Studies are always crisply informative. For a prime example, I would urge taking a look at piece she wrote a couple of...

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Has Mobility in the United States Really Declined?

Drawing on a brilliant book by Berkeley’s Neil Gilbert, I recently (April 25) wrote about how family fragmentation adversely affects economic and social mobility.  But what about perpetual claims that mobility overall in the United States has declined precipitously?  This has become a staple charge by commentators and politicians on the left – especially if the latter are running for president.  Yet is it empirically true?  What does Gilbert’s 2017 book, Never Enough: Capitalism and the Progressive Spirit, say about the matter?  Here’s an extended excerpt (p. 111). The passage begins with Gilbert citing “remarkable discrepancies in the research findings,” quoting...

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