Of Texas, Toilets and the State Department of Education’s Transgender Toolkit
Sunday night I stepped off a flight from Dallas, pointed myself in the approximate direction of Roseville and–buoyed by the fact that MSP was literally 30 degrees cooler than Texas and the metaphorical temperature difference even bigger—directed a beam of pure gratitude in the direction of the Minnesota Department of Education.
I’ll get to Texas presently, but let’s start with the good news.
Over the vociferous protests of the usual suspects, MDE last week issued a “toolkit” for schools and educators to use in supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students. Eleven pages of advice on everything from pronouns to prom, the document is a tremendous and hopeful thing.
There’s some genius stuff in there. So simple it throws into hard relief the notion that the transgender bathroom wars have absolutely nothing to do with ensuring everyone has a pot to pee in.
Adoption of the guidelines is voluntary—and it’ll take you a nanosecond to predict the state’s largest district will be the last to go there. Still, I’m immensely grateful to live in a state where human rights are advancing. Continue reading
In Which Minnesota’s Dysfunctional Board of Teaching Retreats—Literally—to a Barn
Quick: Can you, without asking Siri, locate Avoca, Minnesota, on a map? You can?
What are you doing on Wednesday, when the state’s troubled Board of Teaching, reputation for being disinterested in public input notwithstanding, plans to meet in a barn in far southwest Minnesota?
You’ll have to get up early if you want to make the 8:30 a.m. “breakfast with stakeholders/legislators.” Avoca is three hours from the Twin Cities and a healthy 20 miles from the nearest motels, which appear to be in Worthington.
I’m sure it’s bucolic. Google Earth hasn’t gotten to Avoca yet, but I imagine it as sort of Martha-Stewart-meets-the-Pizza-Farm-craze-meets-Reanimator. Because the business on the agenda includes beginning to draft the rules that will govern the newly created Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.
Yeah, I missed that wrinkle, too: The dysfunctional board that’s going away at the end of the year gets first crack at shaping its successor. Continue reading
With the dust settling, turns out this year’s legislative session might have been a good one for kids
You might be forgiven for tuning out as this year’s state Legislature ground its way toward adjournment, adjourned, went back into session, adjourned, went back into session and finally, mercifully, adjourned for good.
I know I did. From reading the headlines it seemed like Minnesota SOP: Incremental gains in both policy and finance that let the electeds from both parties to go back to their districts claiming to have delivered for kids–if nothing transformative.
And so I have been reading and rereading a newly released wrap-up of the session’s finer points put together by EdAllies, a policy advocacy group, with a mixed mind. Because despite the relatively narrow cast of this year’s headlines, it looks like a lot of solid policy got hammered out.
And the DFL governor, who has not been an advocate of many of the policy changes he nonetheless signed into law, got a lot more money for education out of the GOP than looked likely at the start of the year. Which is huge, given that the state has fallen far behind education funding levels of the early 2000s.
So what’s mixed about my mind? More money for kids and good policy should be a slam-dunk, right? And it could be, but if you look at the arenas in which long-sought progress was won you’ll note that many of them are areas where legislatures past have voted in changes only to watch them founder in the quicksand of bureaucratic resistance.
I say we set cynicism aside for a while and see whether the third time’s the charm. Continue reading