joe nathan

“Simple Choices” is one of the wisest, most humble and helpful books for parents that I’ve read in a long time. It’s written by Lisa Graham Keegan, a nationally recognized educator and political leader who has had to deal with her father’s desertion of the family, discovery that she is carrying a genetic disorder and several other huge challenges. But with laughter and love, she has emerged as a kind, caring, positive parent. She has wonderful stories to tell and creative suggestions I’ve read nowhere else.

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A terrific new movie describes Cesar Chavez, a remarkable American whose influence continues to help Americans – and Minnesotans. Having seen the movie, talked with people who knew Chavez and had a tiny role in his work, I strongly recommend the picture. The movie “Cesar Chavez” was released March 28 and is rated PG-13.

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Minnesota’s state one-act play competition generally doesn’t get the attention that some sports receive. But having watched plays, and been in a few, I’d say that drama is one of the most valuable things a youngster can do.

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Listening to and learning from educators like Megan Hall, Steve Allen and Bill Wilson reminded me last week of two important things. First, they have so much to offer, not only to youngsters, but also to other educators and those learning to be educators. Second, their skills, insights, experience and knowledge are dramatically underused. More youngsters will succeed if we make better use of these and other talented educators.

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Two of the nation’s most intriguing and one of the nation’s most controversial school reform advocates spoke in Minnesota Feb. 6. The conference, convened by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, opened with sobering statistics. While Minnesota schools rank well in many areas, we are 48th in high school graduation rates for American Indians, 49th for African Americans and 50th for Hispanic students.

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A Minnesota group calling itself “Better Ed” should “know better” than to distribute misleading statistics. Perhaps even worse than the original act of distributing a postcard with inaccurate statistics is an email acknowledgement that these folks know the statistics are not accurate! Here’s the story, along with reactions from a few Minnesota superintendents whose high schools are highlighted on Better Ed’s postcard.

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