Nathan on Education

Their important accomplishments, a historical coincidence and public fascination with major anniversaries recently produced attention to Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy. Within the span of one week, we recognized the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s assassination. Leading up to the anniversaries, I thought: How can we help [...]

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Congratulations to the many parents, community members and educators who produced a record approval rate of local district referendums. This was a huge amount of work, especially in an economy that is challenging for many Minnesotans. According to the Minnesota School Boards Association, 51 of 59 operating levies were approved. That’s 86.4 percent, higher than [...]

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“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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