Columns

It seems hard to believe, but in Independent School District 15, there was less than six months between school closings last spring and this fall. School was closed April 16 due to snow and then again on November 9 for the same reason. The recent weather events left no doubt that we are indeed in the season of unpredictable and even dangerous weather. It seems prudent to take a moment and remind our students, parents, staff and residents about the process that occurs when determining school closings or delays.

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Here’s some good news, looking ahead to the 2015 Minnesota Legislature’s discussions about improving public schools. Two leading Minnesota Senate Democrats described several of their priorities as similar to those described last week by leading House Republicans. While this doesn’t ensure agreement, it’s encouraging that these leaders share some similar priorities. They include a review of testing and funding formulas, along with efforts to strengthen the teaching profession.

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The Project For Student Debt released data on Nov. 13 that the average amount of debt for a Minnesota state college student was $30,894 last year. The unfortunate thing is that about half of the 20-something college graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. An underemployed person is one who works in a low-paying position that does not require a college degree.

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Have you seen pictures of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and wondered what is going on down there? It may seem chaotic to a visitor with people taking calls at phones, brokers gathered at trading posts, pages pushing through the crowd and electronic equipment everywhere. While it may seem disorganized, the operations that occur on the floor are orderly and systematic as all get out.

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The recent Ebola scare brings to mind the horrible devastation caused throughout history by diseases, especially during wartime. Soldiers, who were always moving and crowded together in unsanitary conditions, provided (and still continue to provide) the perfect vehicle for transmission of contagious pathogens. The “Spanish flu” as it came to be called, was an example of this method’s deadly efficiency.

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“These teachers have dedicated their lives to serving students and been recognized for outstanding work. As we examine how to improve public policy, it’s important to hear from some of the best of the best. We need to learn from their success.” That’s how state Sen. Chuck Wiger, DFL-Maplewood, explained a recent hearing he convened at which seven recent Minnesota Teachers of the Year shared suggestions about strengths and priorities for public education.

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Regional airport managers in the Twin Cities area are concerned because there aren’t enough young men and women flying private and commercial airplanes to replace the retiring pilots. There also is a growing shortage of trained people to fill the aeronautical jobs of the future.

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