joe nathan

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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Important decisions were made in the last week.

Minnesota Commissioner of Education Brenda Cassellius and a number of local superintendents have decided it’s time for thousands of Minnesota families and students to have better information about some key education opportunities.

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Can the Minnesota Business Partnership, which focuses on making the best possible use of existing funds, and Parents United, which urges that more money be spent on Minnesota’s public schools, find things they agree on?

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“I think it is vitally important to have the ‘Getting Prepared Report’ updated in 2014, given the push we did this legislative session to advance early college opportunities for all secondary students.” That’s what Rep. Carlos Mariani, DFL-St. Paul and chairperson of the Minnesota House K-12 Education Policy Committee, told me last week.

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