Monthly Archives: October 2017

Balancing the Budget on the Backs of Our Kids

It’s time to consider a radical reboot of the way we fund education

Can you smell the blood in the water?

With the recent announcement that Minneapolis Public Schools faces a $33 million deficit next year – which means even deeper cuts than followed this year’s $28 million shortfall — teeth are bared.

It’s not just Minneapolis. St. Paul Public Schools this year are trying to close a $27.3 million shortfall.

The gnashing is compounded by the impact of the Star Tribune’s recent series on school choice, which was a pretty good where-are-we-now check-in packaged under some unfortunate headlines that contained the word “fleeing.”

The combination, of course, leaves one with a run-for-the-lifeboats feeling. Continue reading

Rape, or “Boundary Violations?” Minnesota’s Teacher Discipline Agency Made this Call in Private for Decades

When I saw the news the other day that KSTP had discovered that Minnesota’s Board of Teaching had failed to report teachers suspected of sexual misconduct, my first thought was, “Of course—why should the scandal stop with the failure to license excellent teachers, when there are abusive ones to protect?”

The story was followed a day or two later by the launching of tin-eared statements by elected officials from both parties, who presumably see political profit from blaming each other, umbrage from the governor — who for years has turned a blind eye to that long-running excellent teacher thing – and the issuing of a statement by the board’s new director and longtime chair.

It was the board’s letter to KSTP that tipped me over the edge. It was two full pages of, essentially, it’s not our job, only a few got through on our watch, and we didn’t think the “boundary violations” rose to the level of criminal conduct.

No remorse, no “our thoughts go out to those impacted” language, no vowing to do better. Just exactly what we’ve heard in the ongoing licensure fiasco: a deep commitment to the status quo and the dismissal of anyone who challenges it.

Here are some words that do not appear anywhere in the letter: Child, family, abuse, victim, survivor, exploit, predator, hurt, heal. The word student is mentioned, but only in relation to the real actors here, teachers: “The Board is responsible for ensuring that students in Minnesota have qualified and effective teachers.”

The license of the teacher who abused me and a bunch of other students at the St. Paul Open School, No. 126873, is valid – right now, today — for teaching secondary Spanish, social studies and history and expires 6/30/9999, according to state records.

Continue reading