joe nathan

“Breaking Bad” TV show actor Steven Quezada had several strong messages for about 4,000 educators recently gathered to discuss charter public schools. At a conference sponsored by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, (http://www.publiccharters.org) Quezada began, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for recognizing that children learn in different ways.”

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One of my favorite family memories is sandbagging by the St. Croix River with two of our children. It comes to mind as we enter summer and the July Fourth holiday – a holiday celebrating the sacrifice and selflessness of others. One of the most important things a family can do together this summer is help youngsters continue this tradition. Service should be a part of summer.

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A teacher’s recent email note to me asking for information about cyberbullying triggered powerful, unhappy memories. Her inquiry led me into the fascinating world of “cyberbulling.” The more I learned, the more convinced I became that this definitely is something families should discuss with youngsters this summer, if they haven’t already.

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“Keep their minds and bodies engaged in wonder during the summer months when they are not attending school.” That’s what Julie Olson, director of Elementary Education for the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan Public Schools recommended last week. She was one of 39 education leaders who responded to my request for suggestions about what parents could do to encourage continued learning during the summer. They described a combination of community, school and family activities that can produce a summer with happy memories and student growth.

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Here’s a suggestion for the summer. If you care about learning, teaching, schools or parenting, get a copy of “Teaching with Heart,” edited by educator Sam M. Intrator and writer Megan Scribner. The book has 90 brief, one-page essays by educators, explaining and describing a poem that has inspired them. The book contains some of the most majestic, memorable writing I’ve ever read.

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Fortunately legislators mostly listened to community leaders and students like Sam Petrov, Cherish Kovach, Kelly Charpentier-Berg and Aaliyah Hodge as they considered Minnesota’s pioneering Postsecondary Enrollment Options law. After months of debate, and on a bipartisan basis, legislators agreed with students and many community and business groups that families and students need more, and more up-to-date, information.

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