Monthly Archives: February 2016

Required Weekend Reading

Today’s MinnPost has a great Community Voices submission from Ben MacKenzie, who teaches at the FAIR school in downtown Minneapolis. The piece describes the great experience MacKenzie had earning a teaching license via a process where a candidate submits a portfolio of materials demonstrating their skill.

MacKenzie’s voice is critical because the state’s uber-recalcitrant Board of Teaching recently announced that it will appeal a Ramsey County District Court judge’s ruling that it broke the law when it unilaterally discontinued the process that enabled potential teachers to submit portfolios several years ago.

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The Demagogues of the Left

Last night I made the mistake of jumping into a comments thread about the Opt-Out Movement, the teacher-led campaign to persuade students and parents to refuse to take the annual assessments used to identify academic achievement gaps.

Written by Brooklyn civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman, the piece laid out why black learners are the ones most hurt by the trend. And correctly pointed out that most of those who opted out last spring were from wealthy white communities.

“To put it plainly: white parents from well-funded and highly performing areas are participating in petulant, poorly conceived protests that are ultimately affecting inner-city blacks at schools that need the funding and measures of accountability to ensure any hope of progress in performance,” Coleman wrote.

“This is one of the more obvious examples of the sort of ‘double bonus’ that privilege can create. The ability to opt out of standardized testing without serious concern for the consequences on parents’ school districts is only buttressed by the notion of having greater availability of alternative options.”

It’s a solid article. Yet within minutes it acquired a comment thread rife with hyperbole and venom. Much of it, a little Facebook backtracking revealed, from white commenters who it’s hard not to imagine neatly illustrate Coleman’s point.

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About that Loyal Opposition

Match, set, point to Valeria Silva?

Silva’s announcement last week that she will retire from her position as superintendent of St. Paul Public Schools when her current contract ends in 2018 was a supremely shrewd move. As were the equally savvy remarks she made to the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ editorial board over the weekend. Continue reading