Nathan on Education

“We have halls of fame for athletes and entertainers and should afford the same degree of recognition to our star educators and through that channel of the education profession. … This is an excellent idea.” That’s how Arthur Dorman, a Minnesota educator, responded to a recent column praising Oklahoma’s Educator Hall of Fame. Most but [...]

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Students Mac Schwartz and Mariah Van Heel and U.S. Sen. Al Franken agreed on several important things when the senator visited Forest Lake High School, Oct. 22. Fortunately, both the school district and the senator are not just talking – they are working hard to advance ideas displayed during the visit. That’s good for students [...]

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Pounding basketballs and children sitting on sofas come to mind as I think about the $40 million that Minnesota has just made available to families for early childhood program scholarships. While the money may be used well, I think it’s too early to describe this as a “major step forward,” as one advocate asserts. Give [...]

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Two Morrison County elementary schools have just earned an important state award. Brenda Cassellius, Minnesota commissioner of education, released information this week showing that Lindbergh Elementary in the Little Falls Community Schools District and Royalton Elementary in the Royalton Public School District are among the state’s top 15 percent of the 853 Minnesota public schools [...]

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Should parents have their children “opt out” (not participate) in local or statewide testing? Some anti-testing advocates are suggesting this. Last week, more than 30 districts, charter and union officials responded when I asked them about this. Their responses reflected a mixture of respect, responsibility and frustration. Some educators agreed that tests are imperfect, they [...]

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National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel’s recent visit to Bloomington highlighted the potential of more funding for early childhood education. Perhaps unexpectedly, the visit also highlighted possible problems. Led by Hillcrest Community School fifth-graders Sara Grosser and Gregory Pedenko, Van Roekel, Education Minnesota president Denise Specht and Bloomington Federation of Teachers President Wendy Marczak [...]

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As we start a new school year, I recall that there may be few people more miserable than a seventh grade boy, whose voice is changing, in a choral music class – the kind of class where youngsters are expected to sing every day. That’s the situation I found myself in many years ago at [...]

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It’s not surprising that some Minnesota educators are angry about how high-stakes MCA testing operated during the past year and how some newspapers reported results. The rules changed, there were statewide computer “freezes” caused by problems with the testing company’s technology, and one of the state’s tests was much harder. Whether from suburbs like Hopkins, [...]

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Here’s happy news as Minnesotans prepare for a new school year. Both the Minnesota State Board of Teaching and Education Minnesota, the state’s teacher union, responded thoughtfully to the recent controversy about Teach for America. At a time when there is widespread rancor about how to improve public schools, these were encouraging responses. First, the [...]

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