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Special session should mark the beginning of the end for Minnesota’s achievement gap

We are counting on our elected officials to put aside political disagreements to help Minnesota revive its education legacy.

Minnesota is on the verge of taking a big step toward closing the education achievement gap. However, with mere hours left in the session, leaders were within striking distance of a deal on an E-12 funding bill that would be a game-changer for Minnesota’s children and families.  

Sarah Caruso

While they weren’t able to cross the finish line during the regular session, we are now headed toward a special session to fund early learning and the K-12 system. There is strong bipartisan support to make dramatic investments in education that can transform our state for the better.

Some may call the need for a special session a failure – it isn’t. It is an opportunity for leaders to build on the foundation that was laid out during session and make Minnesota a beacon of early education excellence.

Jeffrey A. Hassan

The special session will focus on the state’s most urgent issue – closing the achievement gap. For years, the philanthropic and business sectors have invested social and financial capital toward eradicating the gap on behalf of public good. Educators, advocates, economists and community groups have echoed the call to action to end disparities in educational outcomes between children of well-off families and low-income students. 

A chance to build on initial investments

Past legislatures have made important initial investments in early learning, including boosting funding for public preschool through School Readiness, Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) and Early Learning Scholarships. Though a good first step, no one believed that it was enough to eliminate the achievement gap. 

We have that chance today. 

This special session should mark the beginning of the end for Minnesota’s achievement gap. However, we can only get there if our elected leaders continue to support a common bipartisan mission — expanding quality early learning opportunities.

Gov. Mark Dayton has made education his signature issue, not just this session, but during his entire time as governor. For that, Minnesotans of every political background should thank him. His proposal for universal pre-kindergarten for 4-year-olds represents a bold vision that would benefit all of Minnesota’s families struggling with the high cost of early learning. However, school districts, child care providers, advocates and the Minnesota Early Learning Council support a different path to achieving the goal of increased access to early education.

This session, the House and Senate passed a bill providing an additional $400 million for the E-12 system, including $60 million for expanding targeted programs like parent-directed Early Learning Scholarships and flexible School Readiness. The fact that both parties support these critical investments should be celebrated. This broad consensus means that compromise and progress can and should be possible.

The path forward is clear. 

Expand access for the most at-risk learners

Instead of relying on universal pre-k to be the silver bullet, let’s commit a substantial portion of the budget surplus into expanding access to pre-k for Minnesota’s most at-risk learners and build on what we’ve started. That means investing in early learning scholarships and School Readiness that will give the most vulnerable kids an opportunity for success.

The legacy of the 2015 session can be that divided leaders came together, put Minnesota’s children first and compromised to make an historic investment in quality early learning programs which helped to end the achievement gap. Or, it can be that political pride and brinksmanship won the day and the needs of our youngest learners got deferred. 

We are counting on our elected officials to put aside political disagreements to help Minnesota revive its education legacy. Thousands of children and parents in every community across the state can’t afford to wait. Again. 

Sarah Caruso is the president and chief executive officer of Greater Twin Cities United Way. Jeffrey A. Hassan is the executive director of the African American Leadership Forum.


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Comments (84)

  1. Submitted by Mike M on 05/28/2015 - 09:25 am.

    Support School Readiness and Scholarship for At Risk Kids

    Great article, you hit the nail right on the head. Let’s not put all our eggs in one basket. Let’s use the tools that are already working.

  2. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/28/2015 - 10:16 am.

    Universal is important

    The benefits of quality early childhood education programs shouldn’t be limited to just those most at risk. It is critical that we reach those kids – but the benefits should be available to EVERY child in Minnesota. Middle class families don’t necessarily have the financial resources to be able to afford these programs. Every child in Minnesota deserves access to the benefits that these programs offer.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 05/28/2015 - 10:19 am.

    This time for sure!

    “For years, the philanthropic and business sectors have invested social and financial capital toward eradicating the gap on behalf of public good.”

    And yet the gap remains. “Past legislatures have made important initial investments in early learning, including boosting funding for public preschool through School Readiness, Early Childhood and Family Education (ECFE) and Early Learning Scholarships. Though a good first step, no one believed that it was enough to eliminate the achievement gap.”

    So ten years from now when the gap remains, what are you going to do? I’m betting you’ll be claiming that the hundreds of millions spent was “a good first step.”

    The government’s own studies show that pre-school that focuses on academic skills has a temporary positive affect. The benefits are lost before the 4th grade. The truth is, this is nothing more than taxpayer-financed day care and we all know it. Regardless, how would giving it to all kids, rich and poor eliminate the gap? That sounds like something only Mark Dayton would calculate.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/28/2015 - 02:59 pm.

      Early childhood programs will need more than 10 years

      10 years from now the gap will remain – early childhood programs implemented over the next few years will need to have kids reaching adulthood before you are going to see the benefits. Please access the research accumulated by the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank. It is good to see that Republicans are now meeting with Art Rolnick, retired Federal Reserve Bank staff who did a lot of work on this issue.

      • Submitted by Mike M on 05/29/2015 - 03:46 pm.

        Rolnick’s Thoughts

        I’m inferring from you comments that your support school district only prek, if not I apologize. Rolnick believes you need both public and private pre-k options to drive high quality programs and lower the cost. He does not support univeral, school district run only pre-k.

    • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/28/2015 - 06:23 pm.

      Your arguments are lacking in merit, Mr. Tester

      1. Claim that “pre-school” has a temporary positive effect, benefits lost before the 4th grade
      a. What do you mean by “pre-school” ? pre-K of the type found in, say, South Carolina, or “day care,” or Head Start – these are different things.

      2. There is a big difference between pre-K and daycare. By your argument 3rd grade is daycare. So? What is going on in 3rd grade is more than daycare.

      If you want to swap links, I’m willing to do this. But it is a waste of time in a way. In case you missed it most of these points have been discussed in the comments to a recent MinnPost article:

      Despite Dayton’s angry rhetoric, advocates see a potential roadmap out of the early-ed impasse

      Best regards.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2015 - 07:49 am.

        There is a big difference in cost between pre-K and daycare. Not much else.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/30/2015 - 10:28 am.

          So once again, Mr. Swift,

          you are presenting your beliefs as fact. There is no difference between pre-K and daycare other than cost?

          An article in the Atlantic is informative:

          The Politics of ‘Pre-K’

          “The flaw that I see is that we need quality childcare as much as we need quality prekindergarten.”

          Pre-K and daycare are quite different animals. Kids often go to daycare from ages “0” until kindergarten. Not so for pre-K. There are lots of other differences as most parents who’ve dealt with both systems, while their kids were growing up, know well.

  4. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/28/2015 - 11:33 am.

    Dayton’s pre-K plan doesn’t have “strong bi-partisan support”, in fact it doesn’t have support from anywhere but the teachers union.

    Minnesota school administrators, teachers and key stake holders, as well as national experts have provided solid evidence that what the Governor and his union friends are demanding won’t have a lasting effect on academic achievement. This is nothing but yet another wasteful payback from Dayton to the union, and everyone knows it.

    The legislature passed a budget that commits, for better, worse or indifferent, more money for education.
    The Governor, in a churlish fit of pique, vetoed it. The legislature is under no obligation to re-hash a subject that went through countless committee hearings during the regular session.

    • Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/28/2015 - 03:01 pm.

      Not True

      There is considerable support for quality early childhood education – and there is considerable research that exists to evidence why it should be a priority.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/28/2015 - 05:39 pm.

        Support is limited to the teachers union

        “The governor’s plan is backed by the state teachers’ union, Education Minnesota. But some early education groups and experts are skeptical, which may not bode well for Dayton in the Legislature.”

        Just as I said.

        I back my opinion with facts. How about you?

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/28/2015 - 07:30 pm.

          Just a reminder that your citation says:

          “most” Mr. Swift, not all.

          And for you to claim that support is only by the teacher’s union is also misleading. Not too difficult to find people who have nothing to do with the teacher’s union in support of pre-K.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/31/2015 - 11:12 am.

            “Not too difficult to find people who have nothing to do with the teacher’s union in support of pre-K.”

            For instance?

  5. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 05/28/2015 - 11:40 am.

    I Suspect that Governor Dayton’s Desire to Have Universal Pre-K

    is based on one, simple fact.

    Programs that help ONLY those in need seem to make very easy targets for the cuts our “conservative” friends are always trying to make,…

    the general public doesn’t care much about cuts to such programs because they can’t generally imagine that they, themselves, would ever be in the position to be affected by such cuts.

    Making Pre-K universal means that the program is far less likely to be zeroed out if tough budget times arrive, again,…

    the kind of “tough” times which former Gov. Pawlenty was so good at creating,…

    and which our “conservative” friends are always trying to engineer for the future as they did, once again, during this legislative session.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 05/28/2015 - 06:33 pm.

      Making Kindergarten universal was going to close the gap decades ago. Dept of Education was going to close the gap. Millions and millions of dollars was going to close the gap. Now it is Pre-K. It has nothing to do with conservative cuts, this is a clear payback to teachers union.

  6. Submitted by John Ellenbecker on 05/28/2015 - 03:14 pm.

    This is about brain development

    Meeting the developmental needs of young children is all about brain development. We don’t get a redo on brain development. The brain development that occurs before age 6 isn’t just about nutrition and we don’t get a second chance at impacting it in a positive manner. Quality early childhood education programs are designed to provide the kind of brain activity that result in positive academic, social and emotional development. The science on this is very clear – and it isn’t a coincidence that many of those that oppose these programs also reject science concerning other subjects.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/28/2015 - 05:37 pm.

      The science, and those that reject it….

      The science is clear:

      “In the final phase of a large-scale randomized, controlled study of nearly 5,000 children, researchers found that the positive impacts on literacy and language development demonstrated by children who entered Head Start at age 4 had dissipated by the end of 3rd grade, and that they were, on average, academically indistinguishable from their peers who had not participated in Head Start.”

      Support for Dayton’s plan is limited to the teacher’s union, administrators, teachers, key stakeholders see it as a waste of money:

      “The governor’s plan is backed by the state teachers’ union, Education Minnesota. But some early education groups and experts are skeptical, which may not bode well for Dayton in the Legislature.”

      I find it easy to provide substantiation for my conclusions, John. How about you?

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/29/2015 - 08:23 am.

        There is a certain amount of irony

        in someone claiming that “the science is clear” when that person so often ignores the science in other matters, i.e. the effect of humans on changing climate.

        Also to cite a government study on Head Start as definitive on the matter of pre-K is rather strange from someone on the right.

        What is the science on pre-K?

        Pre-K, The Great Debate

        “One of the most consequential national debates this year will be about early education. The evidence that it builds opportunity is overwhelming. So the next time you hear people scoff that it’s a failure, push back — and school them.”

        If you go further down this thread, Mr. Swift, you will see another of my comments wherein the situation with respect to pre-K in South Carolina, your home state, is outlined. Apparently your fellow citizens are in strong disagreement with you in this matter.

    • Submitted by Charles Seguin on 05/28/2015 - 08:35 pm.

      Is that why Finland starts their children at 7 yrs of age? Where is your research. And by the way arguably Finland has the best education system in the world. The achievement gap is because education is not a priority in minority’s households. We should be funding smaller class sizes, having more language electives, and offering better quality learning in k -12. Maybe the Governor could tell it like it is and say our children and parents don’t respect their teachers. All the learning during school time the world in school doesn’t make a difference when not continued in the home. You don’t believe me go ask a few teachers.

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2015 - 07:35 am.

        New York City has more students than the whole of Finland. Finland is comprised of an ethnically and culturally homogenous population.

        Finland offers no comparisons with the US.

        • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/30/2015 - 10:03 am.

          Plenty of people disagree with you on this matter, Mr. Swift

          to give but one example:

          What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success

          The population of Finland is approximately that of Minnesota. To claim that size and cultural homogeneity implies that “Finland offers no comparison with the US” is merely your opinion. If such reasoning were correct then advances in education that might be made in Minnesota would be irrelevant to the US.

          • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/30/2015 - 08:23 pm.

            So far, we have only identified Mark Dayton and the teachers union, and yourself as disagreeing.

            Despite spending 44% of its entire budget, Minnesota leads all other states in America in the gap between graduation of minority and white public school students, but it shares the same disadvantages as all American public school systems. Finland does not have a minority’s population large enough to even measure.

            I encourage you to spend some time learning about the differences between Finland and the United States.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/29/2015 - 05:50 pm.

      Brain Development

      This is an interesting source.

      I think lucky kids with capable, responsible and engaged parents / daycares can provide the correct nutrition, stimulation, practice, repitition, etc to help the kid’s brain, psyche, self confidence, beliefs, behaviors, attitude, communication skills, etc develop correctly with or without Pre K.

      However unlucky kids with incapable or irresponsible parents will have big time problems later in life without early and regular interaction with capable, responsible and engaged adults, and good peer role models. As we see over and over again…

      Imagine a tree that is kept in the shade and forced to grow wrong for 4 years… How would one straighten it and help it catch up with the well nutured trees?

  7. Submitted by Bill Gleason on 05/28/2015 - 07:32 pm.

    Looking at pre-K in South Carolina is instructive

    Especially for one who makes the claim that the benefits of pre-K are largely lost before fourth grade.

    They usually do this by pointing at Head Start, but unfortunately for this argument, pre-K is not the same thing as Head Start, nor is it the same as day-care.

    Education Justice
    South Carolina

    The public schools enroll 726,000 students, with 54% in poverty, 5% learning English, and spend $11,360 per pupil. Students are 53% White, 36% African American, and 6% Latino. (Most recent NCES data)”

    “The Half-Day Child Development Program (4K) is provided primarily though public schools and each school district must have at least one 4K program. The Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP) provides full-day pre-K for at-risk 4-year-olds in some school districts. Collectively, these two programs served 38% of 4-year-olds and 3% of 3-year-olds in the 2008-2009 school year.”


    “The 4K program is provided primarily through public schools, although districts may contract with private childcare and pre-K providers. Private providers are required to meet 4K program regulations. The state requires districts to have a comprehensive plan as to how to coordinate funding sources and programs related to early education.”

    “The 4K program serves at-risk 4-year-olds. 3-year-olds may be served in programs that were serving this age group in 1984 when the legislation was enacted.”

    “The 4K Program is primarily funded through appropriations of the General Assembly.”

    “The program requires that teachers have a Bachelor’s degree and specialized training in pre-K. The program has a limited class size, an appropriate student to teacher ratio, and screening and referral services.”

    So apparently people in South Carolina believe in pre-K, have put their money where their mouth is, and it is not “day care.”

  8. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/29/2015 - 07:45 am.

    Thomas, Dennis and Joe,I

    Thomas, Dennis and Joe,
    I will pose my usual thoughts when you start criticizing early ed.

    Let’s assume most children are roughly the same at birth, and that their environment from ages 0 to 5 determines if they will be kindergarten ready.

    How would you help them be kindergarten ready if their parents are unwilling or incapable of helping them develop correctly?

    Please remember that breaking bad habits, behaviors and beliefs is very difficult once they are well entrenched. Reading “Whatever It Takes” regarding the HCZ’s experiences would help you understand.

    Food for Thought

  9. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/29/2015 - 07:46 am.

    “So apparently people in South Carolina believe in pre-K, have put their money where their mouth is, and it is not “day care.”

    From Gleason’s comment:

    “The 4K program is provided primarily through public schools, although districts may contract with private childcare and pre-K providers.”

    Childcare providers.

    Also note that SC provides opportunities for districts to pick and choose private contractors.
    Also note that the 4K program requires an Undergrad degree, but does not require liscensure.
    Also note that the 4K program serves at-risk 4-year-olds, it is not “universal”.

    If Minnesota is going to start another Pre-K program, they could do worse than use South Carolina’s model.

  10. Submitted by John Appelen on 05/29/2015 - 07:51 am.

    The other Elephant

    For the Liberal commenters. How do we reduce the number of children born to those who can not afford them? Or are not mature enough to raise them well?

    “In a state in which 42 percent of births in 2013 were to mothers on Medicaid — a share that has been steadily climbing — a lot is riding on low-income children having a chance to catch up and keep up academically with the rest of the class.”

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/29/2015 - 11:26 am.

      “How do we reduce the number of children born . . .”

      I’ve heard of something called “contraception” that seems to work on this problem. Perhaps Medicaid could cover it?

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/29/2015 - 05:29 pm.

        In Place

        Apparently it is in place already. What next?

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/30/2015 - 10:58 am.

          What next?

          Short term: Comprehensive sex education, so potential parents know enough to get birth control.

          Long term: Since the poors are going to insist on reproducing, the many burdens on low-income parents need to be raised. Better access to child care would be a start, along with an increased minimum wage and better job conditions for low-income workers.

          It’s really comes down to realizing that the looter class is composed of fellow human beings who deserve to be treated with dignity and fairness, just as if they were job creators. And, no, treating them with dignity does not mean shrugging off their lives and aspirations with a patronizing “it was their choice to be poor!”

          • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/30/2015 - 03:29 pm.

            Dignity and Fairness

            I am pretty sure we have comprehensive sex education in our tax payer funded public schools. At least my kids did learn more than I did at their age.

            As for dignity and fairness, it sounds like you believe that tax payers / society should pay to care for immature single moms and the children they choose to have. This does not sound very fair or logical.

            See page 2 and 6 of this document.

            Are you really saying that single parent households are something that society should fund and encourage? I have some low income dual parent friends with 2 kids. Life is challenging but everyone is fine. Single parents with one or multiple kids don’t seem to work so well.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/31/2015 - 12:02 pm.

              Fund and encourage

              I am saying that single-parent families are a reality, and tsk-tsking about it accomplishes nothing. You might ask about policies that encourage, or do not discourage, unusually large families (the Duggars are not role models).

              Comprehensive sex education is something that gives certain types apoplexy. Based on their apparently sincere religious beliefs, should we defer and cut it out?

              Fairness and logic depends on a point of view. Those comfortably ensconced in upper-middle class suburbs are going to have their own opinions. Are you saying their minority views should shape our policy?

              • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 10:49 pm.

                Sex Ed

                I don’t think from the religious right anti-sex ed folks are the young unwed Mothers who are having kids that they can not afford, however I could be wrong.

                No, I think logic should shape our policy. Single parent households will always struggle to raise kids. My wife and I find it challenging enough with 2 of us. Policy should be such that it discourages these types of homes, and it sure should not encourage them.

                The huge jump in single parent households since the ~1960’s certainly indicates that our policy is incorrect.

                • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 06/01/2015 - 01:48 pm.

                  You’re wrong

                  The 10 states with the highest teen birth rates are: Alabama, Tennessee, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arkansas.

                  The 10 states with the highest rates of unwed mothers of all ages are: Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Delaware, Rhode Island, Alabama, South Carolina, New Mexico, Louisiana, and Mississippi

                  The 10 states with the highest rates of child poverty are: Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia.

                  Pretty strong correlations there.

                  • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/01/2015 - 10:44 pm.


                    Apparently these rates are higher in poor states, just like they are higher in our poor areas.

                    Now how does that tie to religion? Any stats to tell us what the religions of these girls are?

                    Now in MN, do we have any data if the girls with religious families are the ones getting pregnant early?

                    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 06/02/2015 - 08:31 am.

                      Look at the the states where abstinence-only sex ed is being pushed. Look at the states that are strongly religious right.

                      Alabama, for instance, has a population that is 86% Christian (49% Evangelical). Compare that to Massachusetts, which is 56% Christian (9% Evangelical). Now maybe that 14% Non-Christian population in Alabama are a bunch of fornicating fools ruining it for everyone else, but that seems unlikely — especially when the teen birth rate in Alabama is 3.5x higher.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 06/02/2015 - 08:57 am.


                      The states with the highest teen pregnancy rates also rank highest in church attendance. Arkansas, with the highest teen pregnancy rate, ranks fifth for frequent church attendance. Utah, with the highest rate of church attendance, ranks sixth for teenage pregnancies and fourteenth for live births to teenage mothers.

                      Interestingly enough, Massachusetts has the lowest teen birth rate but also has the fourth lowest rate of frequent church attendance.

  11. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/30/2015 - 09:52 am.

    Just to recap…

    Republicans basically think that public education is a form of oppression UNLESS children are taught republican “values” in the classroom. And when they’re not worried about creeping oppression they’re claiming that if only we could break the Unions education would be so cheap as to foreclose the need for any additional funding. And when they’re not using union based magical thinking to they fall back on just plain magical thinking and claim that we can expand and improve the educational system without putting more money into it.

    What this tells us, and we can see it when we look at the republican budget, is that the republican concepts of economy, efficiency, and democracy are so irrevocably incoherent that even IF they want to solve or fix a problem they’ll never find the money to pay for it. The republican budget not only failed to provide sufficient funding but it would have brought back deficits and fiscal crises that would have demanded even more budget cuts. Policy and budgets cooked up in a magic cauldron will never work and I don’t know why that fact would surprise anyone.

    We need to stop pretending that any workable public policy can emerge from magical thinking, it’s like expecting dog will play a violin. Even IF there are some republican law makers capable of rational thought, they’re crushed into submission by wizards of ideology.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/30/2015 - 03:36 pm.

      Four Hundred Million Dollars

      $400,000,000 in extra spending… I think society is giving plenty.

      Now let’s see Ed MN match this generosity. No more tenure, steps, lanes, work rules, etc. Let’s pay the highest wages for the most challenging positions. Let’s have the most talented Teachers apply for those positions. Let’s put the kids first, not the adult employees.

      If they want to be treated like professionals (ie lawyers, engineers, accountants, etc) let’s get rid of all these hourly employee distractions, contracts, etc Let’s have the most gifted and most challenged receive the biggest rewards just like normal professionals do.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/30/2015 - 06:27 pm.

        Magical thinking

        Again, when republican economics are irrevocably incoherent you can’t pretend that rational budgets or public policy will emerge. Sure, $400 million is a lot of money, but it still isn’t enough and no amount of magic will make it so.

        Obviously the idea that ad hominem attacks on the teaching profession will somehow produce a better education system are likewise magical thinking.

        We know what disparity is and we know how to reduce it, and insufficient budgets and attacks on teachers aren’t the solution. Disparity isn’t the product of a failure to fire enough teachers. This mumbo jumbo about unions and teachers and cheap education systems has been crippling our students for decades. The fact is that the republican the priority was to keep a billion dollars in reserve to finance their tax cuts for the wealthy. $975 million wasn’t enough, it HAD to be a BILLION. So now we’re going to have a special session and all we’ll get from republicans is more mumbo jumbo that has NOTHING to do will reducing disparity or improving our education system.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/30/2015 - 09:33 pm.

          Please Explain

          Please help me understand the logical thinking in the current system that has the highest paid Teachers in the Mpls district working in the schools with the luckiest kids, while the schools with the children that need the most help get the new low cost Teachers?

          Please remember that based on Ed MN’s own logic these are the most educated and experienced Teachers. (ie best of the best, deserve highest income) Yet they fight to allow them to avoid the kids that need them most.

          By their own site, Mpls apparently has a $745,000,000 budget. What do you think it should be?

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/31/2015 - 11:10 am.

          As a devoted observer of magical thinking, one wonders how the slight of hand involved in convincing folks money is the solution gets past you.

          $400 million is a lot of money, but it still isn’t enough, and no amount ever will be. Nothing up your sleeves but “more”.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/31/2015 - 12:17 am.

        The bigger question

        Is why the “professionals” you cite as being so superior to hourly employees are content with being treated as they are instead of demanding similar benefits to the “evil” teachers union. While its true that “misery loves company” I do find the masochism of so many in the “professional” set puzzling.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 08:12 am.

          Good Question

          I guess if I owned a business or hired someone, it would make sense to me to:
          – pay them for the value they add, not their years or degrees.
          – demote or terminate employees who choose to no longer add as much value. (it is not bad, they may just have a change in priorities as they got older)
          – demote or terminate employees who are not aligned with the goals and vision of the organization.
          – promote and reward the people who take on tough jobs, are passionate about the orgs goals and are very effective.

          Would you do differently? If so, what?

          Please remember that the above works both ways. People who are effective, aligned with the organization, work hard and continuously improve can be paid what they are worth very quickly. Also, they can change jobs to find a good fit for themselves without losing any income, and likely gaining.

      • Submitted by Bill Willy on 05/31/2015 - 12:44 pm.

        Professional treatment

        You’ll probably want to think about dropping attorneys from your short list of comparable professionals, but other than that, a lot of teachers would probably be happy to go along with your plan, as it looks like they are currently paid at least $6,000 or $7,000 per year less than the rest your list.

        And, no matter how you sliced it (more money for teachers in “problematic” classrooms, less for cushy assignments, etc.) the cost of education would go up by at least 10% under your plan unless you can explain (or preferably, prove) how you’d reduce the number of teachers and maintain or improve the quality of kid’s education at the same time.

        Anway… Here’s some quick raw data for your spreadsheet.


        “Hourly rates range from $80 on the low (inexperienced, first time, never done it before) to over $800 on the high (well versed, tremendous track record, skilled in all aspects).”

        $80/hour works out to right around $160,000/year. $800/hour is $1,600,000 per year which would make the median income of a Minnesota attorney somewhere around $880,000. (Get that law degree, kids!)–332501.html

        Accountants median income: $59,700

        Engineers median income

        Duluth: $58,347

        St. Cloud: $60,215

        Mpls/St. Paul: $64,512

        Rochester: $56,960

        Teachers median income

        Grand Forks: $40,754

        St. Cloud: $51,793

        Mpls/St. Paul: $55,489

        Rochester: $48,994

        • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/31/2015 - 03:20 pm.

          A typical teacher can make $2.24 million over 30 years in St. Paul, according to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality.”

          “It can take just 11 years to reach a salary of $75,000 in St.Paul.”

          And that is for 9 months work.

 is not really a reliable source of information.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 03:42 pm.

          Times 12 / 9ths

          Did you adjust the Teacher salary for working only 180 – 190 days per year? Difference in benefits? Etc

          I am not sure if Teachers would make less or more than these other professions. That would be up to the labor market. There would like be more variance as the best Teachers would be highly sought after.

          Many of the questionable Teachers may need to find a different career path as more capable and driven people entered the Teacher labor pool now that they would not need to wait 15 years to earn a good pay check.

  12. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/31/2015 - 11:35 am.

    Please explain…

    “Please help me understand the logical thinking in the current system that has the highest paid Teachers in the Mpls district working in the schools with the luckiest kids, while the schools with the children that need the most help get the new low cost Teachers?…Please remember that based on Ed MN’s own logic these are the most educated and experienced Teachers…”

    Here’s what I’ll explain: you can’t get coherent answers from incoherent questions.

    The assumption behind this question is incoherent because it assumes that disparity is the product of someone’s logic rather than a fault in the system. This mentality lurches further into the realm of incoherence when it decides that the faulty logic originates with the workers rather than the people who actually run the system i.e. the executive class, administrators, principles, superintendents, etc. Since the teacher’s unions don’t run the schools or assign teachers to any given classroom or school blaming them for such problems is simply illogical. This is not a rational or coherent attempt to work the problem, it’s simply an ideologically driven ad hominem attack on teachers and their labor unions that can yield no workable solutions.

    This actually ends up circling back to some previous comments about the difficulty republican promoters of personal responsibility have with the very concept of personal responsibility. Time after time you see this mentality celebrate the executive class as a beacon of meritocracy yet when things go wrong it’s always the workers fault, specially when those workers have a labor contract. You see this mentality pointing the finger at the labor union rather the executives who actually make decisions time after time no matter what the problem is. If only Target had a unionized labor force it’s poor executives would have been off the hook for it’s disastrous attempt to expand into Canada. Likewise the financial sector with nary a union worker to found anywhere would be able to explain it’s decades long parade of catastrophes. Remember what the unions did to Enron? It was a shame I tell you.

    The primary fantasy behind most attempts to reassign blame to workers rather than decision makers is the complaint that labor contracts constrain executive brilliance and innovation and expertise with efficiency. Given free reign from the constraints of labor contracts executives would invariably produce excellence… like Enron. Again, this is magical thinking.

    This brings us to the question of budgets. How much money do we need for education? I don’t know, but I can tell you how to find out. You identify problems and design solutions and then figure out how much it costs. You don’t simply declare that some amount like $400 million: “Ought to be enough!”. No business does a budget that way, and it makes even less sense for a school district to a budget that way.

    Getting back to this mumbo jumbo about getting the right teachers into the right classrooms let’s try looking at what actually happens rather than wallowing in anti-union stereotypes. The truth is that no teacher is a magic bullet that can be dropped into difficult schools or classrooms. When you try put an experienced teacher with seniority into a difficult school or classroom without the necessary resources they will push back… and they do. Even IF you got rid of seniority and unions and could put any teacher you want in any school or classroom you want it wouldn’t fix the problem, it wouldn’t end disparity, it would just burn out teachers. So what happens is experienced teachers in difficult classrooms ask for the resources they need to be effective and their told: “Well $400 million ought to be enough!” Rather than bang their heads against ideological walls they opt for better classrooms. And so it goes. There’s nothing un-professional about going where you can be the most effective and putting the best teachers in classrooms where they can’t be as effective isn’t “efficient” or cost effective. You want to put the best teachers in the most difficult classrooms fine, but then you have to give them resources they need to maximize their talents and get the most out of them. I wouldn’t expect that to be “cheaper” if I were you.

    We know that disparity by definition means that some students are not getting the same education that other students are getting. Logic dictates that additional services are required for under served students (that means expanding service). More service mean more money. Nobody, not Walmart, not Comcast, nor McDonald’s expands service without spending more money, no matter how “efficient” they are. We know that $400 million isn’t enough because even the republicans admit it doesn’t fund the additional services that are being requested. Republican admit that they’re not just capping spending, they’re capping services. Why? Well as Dayton says they have other priorities that they think are more important, like the billion dollar tax cut for the wealthy.

    And please, let’s not somebody complain that throwing unlimited amounts of money at the problem is the liberal way. No one is talking about “unlimited” funding, we’re just acknowledging the fact that stuff costs what it costs and you either pay for it you don’t. Republicans seem to understand that when it comes to aircraft carriers but for some reason when it comes to public education we get this “tax and spend” mumbo jumbo.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 12:32 pm.

      If not Unlimited

      Thanks to collective bargaining it is actually the administration and the Union that run the Districts. Remember those big employee contracts that specify tenure, last in first out, steps/lanes, work hours, position preference by seniority, lengthy termination processes, etc.

      By their own site, Mpls apparently has a $745,000,000 budget and ~36,000 students. (~$20,694/student) What do you think it should be?

      • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/31/2015 - 03:14 pm.

        $745,000,000 budget

        That does not ring true. Although I admit I do not have fresh numbers as hand, I’m betting a bit of digging would disclose quite a bit more. Perhaps they are not counting Title I, fees and rents. Not sure where the disconnect is.

  13. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 05/31/2015 - 01:16 pm.

    “No one is talking about “unlimited” funding..”

    Yes you are Paul; otherwise, how much is enough? You’ve already posited an additional $400 million doesn’t do the job so what will it be…another billion? Two billion…three?

    We spend billions on Aircraft carriers. And they work as advertised.

    We spend billions on public education, and not only does it fail more than 1/3 of students completely, studies in Minnesota show that 25% of public school cream of the crop require remedial coursework before starting college. And in return, we get “we need more investment” mumbo jumbo from the lefty defenders of the status quo. It’s magical thinking.

    When an American aircraft carrier sinks at anchor, you may be assured Republicans will be front and center protesting the waste of money.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/01/2015 - 12:37 pm.

      Uh huh…

      Ever occur to you that aircraft carriers work as advertised BECAUSE we spend billion on them? If you didn’t spend enough on an aircraft carrier it would work as advertised either. Anyways we also spent billions on the B-1 bomber and despite the fact that it never worked as advertised republicans kept it alive for decades.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 06/01/2015 - 01:35 pm.

      I doubt it.

      If an aircraft carrier sinks at anchor, Republicans would be there to blame Obama, launch six years of congressional hearings costing millions of taxpayer dollars and conclude that we’re not spending enough on defense. All for a weapons system that’s rapidly sliding into obsolescence.
      The bottom line is that Republicans LOVE to spend money…Reagan proved that. Just not on anything that benefits the people that they don’t like. You know …those “unlucky kids” sired by those icky poor people.

  14. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/31/2015 - 05:07 pm.

    Almost comical… but illustrative

    “Thanks to collective bargaining it is actually the administration and the Union…”

    Collective bargaining establishes certain conditions of employment, it does not convert labor into management… that would be a co-op of some kind maybe. The Schools in MN are run by school boards, superintendents, CEO’s, and principles. Teacher’s work there. This is fact that no amount of anti-union prejudice can change. The idea that management could erase disparity if only they didn’t have to deal with labor contracts is simply nonsense that pretends that some teachers are silver bullets that can fix disparity without any additional resources. That’s magical thinking.

    Despite my plea for reason Dennis claims that I’m asking for an infinite amount of money: “Yes you are Paul; otherwise, how much is enough?” Dennis, haven’t you ever bought anything? What makes you think you can’t buy anything without an infinite amount of cash on hand? You find out how much something costs, and that’s how much is “enough”. There are several good educational systems in the world and none of them require an infinite supply of funding. I really don’t understand why this is so confusing to some people. In this case, we’re not having a special session because Dayton was asking for an infinite amount of cash, he was asking for another $25 million dollars. How much was “enough”? $425 million, not an infinite supply of money… $425 million. By definition slippery slope arguments are fallacies.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 11:03 pm.


      Unfortunately there is little that the district can do without the blessings of the union. Minneapolis has a ~240 page document that the admin and union collectively work to create that goes into incredible detail regarding how the district must operate.

      If the School Board had any significant power to improve things, we probably would not be having this comment exchange. In reality, the admin and union collectively run the districts and are both responsible for the results and cost.

  15. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/31/2015 - 05:32 pm.

    Swing and a miss

    ” And in return, we get “we need more investment” mumbo jumbo from the lefty defenders of the status quo. It’s magical thinking.”

    Nice try at a rhetorical joust of sorts. Yes, THAT would be magical thinking if that was the liberal plan. Alas Dayton wasn’t asking for an infinite amount of money to be thrown at an education system, he was asking for $175 million for universal pre-K. That’s called a “plan”, not magic. You don’t have to like the plan but that doesn’t make it magic. Let’s try talking about real liberals instead of stereotypes in future eh?

    It’s nice to see your catalog of problems, at least you recognize we have a problem. And we do spend a lot of money on education… but again, clearly, it’s not enough or those problems would have been resolved by now. The fact that you don’t want to spend anymore money doesn’t mean the problem is financially impossible, it just means it’s not your priority. All you’re really saying is that you don’t want to spend more money on education, and that’s fine. But don’t expect the rest of us to pretend that you’re tying to work the problem when you all your really trying to do is walk away from the problem.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 05/31/2015 - 10:37 pm.

      Mo Money

      “clearly, it’s not enough or those problems would have been resolved by now”

      This an interesting comment. The system is failing the unlucky kids, but if we throw more money at the failed system the results will get better. So we should not have adopted ACA which was a systemic change, we should just keep throwing more money at healthcare.

      The reality is that as we have discussed, the system has inherent flaws. Significant changes need to occur if we truly want to close the achievement gap. It may take some more money, but it will certainly take the Unions, Admin and Teachers putting the needs of the unlucky kids ahead of the wants of questionable and/or low energy employees. Maybe someday we will get serious.

    • Submitted by Thomas Swift on 06/01/2015 - 05:46 am.

      One last time. How much money need we spend?

      You say conservatives don’t want to soend any money, but you can’t even out a number on how much you want. All we know for sure is $400 million more doesn’t satisfy.

      In what magical kingdom does a plan that hopes to achieve a goal have an open ended investment, and no defined goal?

  16. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/01/2015 - 09:41 am.

    The comedy contintues

    OK so at this point I think it’s clear to most observers that the republican mentality here offers little more than circularity and ideological prejudice. They just keep circling back to the same false claims as if repeating them will make them so. This simply cannot yield a genuine attempt to work a problem beyond trying to impress some ideological agenda; in this case an incoherent notion of fiscal “discipline”; as if spending less money than we need will “manifest” solutions like balanced budgets, new bridges and roads, and better education systems. I don’t doubt some are getting tired of my saying so but this really is magical thinking on a very basic level, and of course it doesn’t work. What surprises me is the fact that significant numbers of people keep thinking it “could” work.

    Now let me be clear, when I use the phrase: “republican mentality” I’m not referring to all people who are conservative, call themselves republicans, or even vote republican, it’s not a pejorative, I’m referring to the mentality that tends to drive republican part leadership decisions. I think it’s important to note that commentor’s here really are reflecting the positions and rationale of the republican party leadership.

    We can bat away at the false claims ad infinitum but it’s a game of whack-a-mole that only obscures attempts to solve problems. I think it’s better to just acknowledge the fact that when these people show up they don’t share the agenda of working the problem. I’m not saying they’re not welcome or they shouldn’t comment, they’re entitled, there’s no law saying we all have to have he same priorities or agendas, but you have to filter out the noise when your actually working a problem.

    My agenda is simply to point out the fact that this IS noise and no solutions can possibly emerge from it.

    This may seem harsh and judgmental to some but I’m really just making an observation. And frankly my sincere hope is that such observations will actually help repair the republican party. This mentality has crippled the republican party and set it on a path to obscurity and toxicity. The only way to salvage the party, and reclaim the benefits that a conservative perspective can lend to the social and political landscape, is to encourage and empower reasonable and intelligent discourse within the party. The first step is reveal and acknowledge the toxic nature of the current mentality. You cannot get good policy out of false claims, period.

    Speaking of false claims, and keeping the whack-a-mole in mind, to wit:

    There is nothing in the 240 page labor agreement with MPLS teachers that inverts management and labor responsibilities. There’s nothing in that contract that gives teachers veto authority over management decisions beyond work rules or makes teachers or the union responsible for managing the schools. There is some language about sharing decision making and setting up Site Leadership Teams towards that end but it’s all “may” not “Shall” language. On page 44 we have a chart that clearly establishes the “Accountability Framework” of the MPLS school system and it’s clear that policy and management are the purview of the School Board and District Office Administration. The teachers primary responsibility is to teach, they don’t run the schools. Teachers will tell you that they don’t want to run the school, they just want to teach in their classrooms.

    As to the capitalist fantasy of a union-free paradise of managerial brilliance and success I refer the reader to my previous examples of the banking industry and Enron. These attacks on labor unions are rarely more than prejudice and stereotypical thinking pretending to be some kind of business analysis.

    Finally, I don’t know how many times I have to say it, apparently three time isn’t enough, but Dayton asked for $75 million to build and run a universal pre-K program. In the end he would have settled for $25 million for a grand total of $425 million in new spending. Those are actual numbers, not references to infinity. You can keep asking me for those numbers if you want, but this is the last time I’ll provide them.

    The FACT is educators never ask for blank checks, they always ask for a specific amounts of money, and they tell us exactly what they want the money for. There’s nothing magical about these requests, they’re very specific. Inflation isn’t a slippery slope to infinite spending, it’s an economic fact.

    Look, we’ve NEVER fully funded education. We saddled our school districts with millions of dollars of unfunded mandates over the decades and then we cut spending and stole education money to plug holes in the budget that republicans created elsewhere. We’re still trying to repair a decade of damage republicans leveled against public schools AND we’re trying to expand services in order to reduce disparity and accomplish the basic mission. Logic and financial common sense dictate that this will cost more money, not an infinite amount of money, but more. If other countries can afford it, we can.

    The fact that the primary republican objective today is to change the way we lay-off teachers when we cut school budgets tells you that they are not interested in building a state of the art public school system. When Dayton says they don’t believe in public education he’s right. We’re trying to figure out how to reduce disparity and they’re planning for the next round of budget cuts for schools. What does that tell you? Move along, there’s nothing to see here. Let’s work problem and move on to the next for a change.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/01/2015 - 01:43 pm.

      I agree

      Hi Paul,
      I do agree with you on the following.

      “They just keep circling back to the same false claims as if repeating them will make them so.”

      “we’ve NEVER fully funded education”
      “this will cost more money”

      It seems that you committed to the idea that it always costs more to get better results. Thankfully most people disagree or all of the services and/or products we purchase would be very expensive.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 06/01/2015 - 06:15 pm.

        Well, no

        most don’t disagree or everyone would be shopping at Walmart and nowhere else. You get what you pay for which is why I drive Honda’s not Chrysler’s, drink Jack Daniels not Canadian Club and buy my steaks from a butcher or a side of beef from a local farmer rather than buying them at Walmart. One look at the educational rankings of states that try and educate on the cheap tells us that as a society , we most certainly get what we pay for. I for one, will gladly pay as much as we need to in order to give ALL kids the best education possible.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/01/2015 - 10:38 pm.


          Honda is an excellent example of a company that knows how to eliminate waste and optimize processes without increasing cost. On top of that they located their plants where unions would find it hard to infiltrate and create waste within the organization.

          Though I am happy to pay more for more value, I am usually not willing to pay more for equal or less value. By the way, that is likely one of the reasons you buy the Honda instead of the Chrysler. You may pay a little more up front, but you more than make it up in lower repair costs and a higher resale value.

          Strangely cars are where I spend a bit more ( ie total cost of ownership) to keep the design, test, build, sales, operations, intellectual property and profits in the USA.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/01/2015 - 10:14 pm.

        I’m committed…

        “It seems that you committed to the idea that it always costs more to get better results.”

        I’m committed to reality. I’m hoping it will make a comeback.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/02/2015 - 08:17 am.

          Near Monopolies

          I just left this comment elsewhere. We are discussing if Charters should get the same funding as status quo public schools.

          “Near monopolies are unlikely to improve until true competition forces them to. Please remember the Ford and GM cars of the 1970’s. Thank heavens Honda and Toyota pushed them to improve their processes, efficiency and cars.

          Now that was just cars, here we are talking about children who are being neglected and losing their chance at a wonderful future due to the failings of the Public Ed near monopoly. I will never understand why people who profess to care about the poor and unlucky children keep wanting to double down on the “old GM” model.” G2A

          The traditional Public School systems are a lot like the “old GM”, the Mgmt and Unions are focused on maximizing their personal benefits and power at the cost of the Customer / Car. What do you think cars in the USA would cost, run like, look like, ride like, etc if serious competition had not arrived?

          You are correct that paying more is one solution. I on the other hand am thankful that Honda, Toyota, etc had a fair shot in our market so that my wife’s new Ford Escape is quiet, powerful, reliable, reasonable, etc. If the big 3 and their unions had not been forced to improve to survive I am certain it would not be so.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 09:04 am.


            And then there’s the mumbo jumbo about monopolies and competition… until billionaires want to own everything and that’s all hunky dory because that’s how “free markets” work and regulating monopolies is government wealth redistribution. Whatever. The false claim here is that a “market” of some kind is the best solution to all problems.

          • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 09:39 am.

            By the way…

            GM wasn’t saved by Honda inspired efficiency in the 80s… they got a government bailout. Seems to me something like that happened more recently as well? And Honda didn’t prevail in the market because they cut costs and manufactured cheap cars… on the contrary.

    • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/02/2015 - 05:10 am.

      Extra good (and important) point

      “… when I use the phrase: ‘republican mentality’ I’m not referring to all people who are conservative, call themselves republicans, or even vote republican, it’s not a pejorative, I’m referring to the mentality that tends to drive republican part leadership decisions. I think it’s important to note that commentor’s here really are reflecting the positions and rationale of the republican party leadership.”

      If or when “genuinely productive bi-partisanship” makes a comeback, what you had to say will, I’m sure, have a lot to do with it.

      In my opinion, the “contemporary conservative Republican ideology” is a sad trap that is keeping a lot of intelligent people from making the kind of valuable contributions they could were it not for the “demand” that they pledge allegiance to that ideology above all, “Or else!”

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 08:59 am.


        Productive bi-partisanship needs to make a comeback, or rather, emerge from the wreckage of our current system. The problem is ironically, our democratic system has produced two dominant parties, one of which has been captured by magical thinkers who foreclose the will of the people rather than represent it. Like it or not we’re stuck with two party duopoly so the only way out is to either replace the republican party with some other party, or change the republican party. I don’t think there’s anything inherently stupid or irrational about the conservative mind, I think the numbers are on the side of reason… just not the power. I think if magical thinking doesn’t win elections republicans will abandon it.

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 08:47 am.

    Honda Shmonda

    The article Mr. Appelen privides doesn’t actually support the claims he’s making. Honda like all automakers has had a contentious relationship with labor and unions (don’t take my for it, the link’s right there). At any rate however “efficient” Honda is as a manufacturer, that efficiency hasn’t made Honda’s cheap. If you want to drive a Honda you have pay for a Honda, if you want a cheaper car you buy something else. You don’t pay for a K-car and get an Accord.

    All this tells us is that some people don’t want to pay more for a better education system. That’s fine, but let’s not pretend that these people are trying to make our system “better”, they’re not here to solve problems.

    I’m not attacking John I’m just making an observation. This is the second time in THIS comment thread that he’s provided a link and misrepresented it’s content (earlier he claimed that a 240 page labor contract put the teacher’s union in charge of MPLS public schools). This is a pattern, and it’s not about commentor’s here on Minnpost. From O’Reilly to Ryan and from Benghazi to Global Warming we have this cornucopia of false claims about everything from free markets to the founding fathers. Good policy and solutions simply cannot emerge from a sea of false claims.

    Mumbo jumbo about Honda aside the biggest false claim we’re dealing with in this conversation is the idea that any request for funding increases that educators make, is the product of perpetual and habitual bureaucratic demands for more money to be “thrown” into the system. This is stereotype pretending to be fiscal responsibility. The truth is educators never ask for blank checks; they always ask for a specific amount of money, and they tell us exactly what they want to spend it on. You either pay or you don’t. We didn’t get a more efficient universal pre-k system from the republican budget, we got NO universal pre-k. Likewise we haven’t gotten less disparity from budget cuts, accounting gimmicks, and teacher lay-offs, we’ve gotten INCREASED disparity. Does this really surprise anyone? The idea that we could have gotten a better education system out of budget cuts, accounting gimmicks, and lay-offs was… yes, magical thinking based on false claims.

    All I’m saying is it’s not a surprise that after spending decades of being awash in false claims we’re decades behind where we should be in everything from infrastructure to energy policy. The efficient way to work this problem is to stop playing whack-a-mole with false claims and focus on reliable information and genuine solutions working with credible people. Once you establish a priority you work the problem and ignore the noise, otherwise you get lost in the noise and never solve the problem.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/02/2015 - 03:25 pm.


      Paul says “earlier he claimed that a 240 page labor contract put the teacher’s union in charge of MPLS public schools”

      Johns quote was “In reality, the admin and union collectively run the districts and are both responsible for the results and cost.”

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 10:55 pm.

        Incorrect correction

        Actually what John said was: “Unfortunately there is little that the district can do without the blessings of the union.” In other words the union has usurped management. This is a false claim that is not supported by the 240 page contract. The contract does not establish the union and administration as co-managers, it is simply a labor contract. The union and administration to not “share” management responsibility, they share a commitment to provide the best education to every student. Collective bargaining establishes labor policy and work rules, it does not reassign management responsibilities.

        • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 07:52 am.


          If during collective bargaining the Union demands rules regarding who works where, which employees are paid how much, the process for terminating employees, the hours and events employees will work, etc they have pretty much entered into the realm of employee management.

          A definition of collectively: “shared or assumed by all members of the group”

          Why are you concerned about this? If you want management and employees to collectively work together in pursuit of a goal, then it seems they are both responsible for the results. (good or bad)

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/02/2015 - 03:28 pm.


      “You don’t pay for a K-car and get an Accord.”

      Back in 1980 you probably did. Honda had to be cheaper and better to compete against the “Buy American” mantra of the time. Remember that they were working to grow market share.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/02/2015 - 05:23 pm.

        Actually… no.

        Even in 1985 a Honda Accord cost $9,000 and a K Car cost $7,500.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 06/02/2015 - 06:47 pm.

        Actually, no you didn’t.

        Some of us were buying cars back in those days and the K-cars were universally despised when they hit the market. They sold alright ( from the mistaken idea that Chrysler meant quality) and saved Chrysler which was on life support at the time, but the cars were notoriously cheap looking with abysmal performance, weak braking, sub-standard mechanics and the handling of an ocean liner . They still couldn’t compete with what Honda and Toyota were doing. At that time I had just bought a brand new Toyota SR5 hatchback and paid much more that I would had I bought a Le Baron or Aries, knowing full well that the Toyota would be on the road instead of on the side of it and be there long after the first generation K’s were dying off., which was a soon as 1983.

        • Submitted by Bill Willy on 06/02/2015 - 10:40 pm.

          “…and the handling of an ocean liner”

          And your, “Le’s see….” comment over on today’s (fast disappearing) Glean:

          I always appreciate a lot of people’s comments on this MinnPost thing but, as I said one day a week or two ago (in a Glean comment) about Mark Dayton’s initial idea about how the legislature could meet in a tent on the capitol lawn, he has a way of making me laugh while talking about serious things.

          And speaking of the “Founding Fathers,” whenever that cliche comes up, it reminds me of that time (another couple of weeks ago) when Tom Swift said something that made me say, “Yeah Myron,” and how I was reading “Burr” by Gore Vidal and how I thought you’d find his book “Myron” interesting, and how you’d probably appreciate his written word sense of humor (I think).

          Well… I’m still reading “Burr,” and even though it’s “just a novel,” when it comes to the “Founding Fathers,” and what the narrator says Burr and other contemporaries had to say about them (and General George Washington and the “legislature” of that time), the way he describes “the reality” of that time is interesting (and funny), to say the least.

          But, sticking to the main topic, the first “Asian Invasion” vehicle I noticed was those pumpkin-orange “Datsun” (later known as Nisson) small pickups, that cost about as much as a Volkswagen Beetle, that nobody could kill. They were the Timex watch of vehicles: $1,500 to $1,800 for a new (though small) truck that almost never broke down and made it 250,000 or more miles.

          Even more interesting (and ironic) than that is the story of how it was an American military officer in the occupying army in the post Hiroshima and Nagasaki days (see: Edwards Demming) that actually gave birth to the whole “quality control” thing that made the initial “Asian Invasion and subsequent expansion” thing possible, as in Sabaru, Honda, Toyota (Lexus), Nissan, Sony, Toshiba, and more.

          Keep on truckin’.

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 06/02/2015 - 04:05 pm.

      More fascinating

      Is that 90 pages of the 240 page document actually contains a whole lot of detail about how teachers and the district will work to improve student performance, and how teachers will be evaluated for their contributions towards those goals — things that Mr. Appelen frequently says are missing from our public schools.

  18. Submitted by John Appelen on 06/02/2015 - 10:46 am.

    Sex Ed

    RB and Sean,
    I agree it is wrong if the schools in the Southern states do not have good sex ed in school.

    However I do disagree with the leap of logic that says these states have more religious families, therefore it is the girls from Religious families that drive up their unwed mother stats.

    I don’t think we have enough data.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/03/2015 - 08:56 am.

    Honda Shmonda part II

    OK, I realize it’s kind of funny that I keep counseling that we ignore the noise and stop batting at a cornucopia of false claims… and then I bat down another false claim. I’m just making point because apparently a lot of people still think that the problem is bi-partisan gridlock instead of partisan intransigence. I’m not saying democrats are perfect but they don’t rely on magic derived from false claims (at least exclusively false claims). To the extent that divided government gives us gridlock it’s not because partisans can’t compromise, it’s because there’s no such thing as magic. When one of two parties trying to work a problem is relying on magic you simply don’t get a solution. 2 + 2 may equal 4 for 2 + magic never equals anything. You can’t even argue about whether or not “4” is the right objective because there’s nothing you can add to magic that will yield any number.

    Getting back to Honda and the Japanese car makers (and tying that back to our actual discussion about education), the false claim being proffered here is that organized labor makes efficiency and cost effective business models impossible. This a demonstrably false claim. Whatever cars the Japanese brought into the US whenever they brought them, they were manufactured by union labor in Japan, and Japan had much more generous labor laws than the US had (Jobs for life etc). Furthermore, even in the US our greatest period of economic expansion and the golden years of US auto makers emerged at a time when labor union participation was at it’s highest rate in US history. The US economy and the power of labor unions reached their zenith at round about the same time. If collective bargaining ruined business models you’d expect a divergence, not a convergence of economic interest and prosperity.

    Sure, labor negotiations can be contentious but that just business, business can be contentious, that’s not a unique feature of collective bargaining with labor unions. Something like 80% of all our lawsuits are business’s suing each other over something or another. Sure, if you want to replace workers with robots they’re going to fight it, but that’s just business. Executive’s don’t like to get fired anymore than assembly workers and executives are always suing if they think they’ve been fired wrongfully. And in case you haven’t noticed, whenever executives get fired they tend to have generous pay days dictated by THEIR labor contracts. If negotiated labor contracts are bad for business why are they good for executives? Getting back schools… how many of those superintendents are working without contracts?

    This idea that organized labor is the bane of good business models is literally nothing more than fanciful free market romanticism pretending to be some kind of universal business principle. It doesn’t work in education anymore than it works in the auto industry. Almost all of the claims that flow out of that fantasy are false claims leading to one magical thought that getting rid unions is the magic bullet that delivers prosperity and success to all.

    • Submitted by John Appelen on 06/03/2015 - 06:25 pm.


      “organized labor is the bane of good business models ”

      Just as their are excellent things about American Business Management, there are excellent things about American Employee Unions. Their are also bad things about both of them.

      Some Managers do good things by getting rid of poor employees, rewarding good employees, and helping the company to thrive.
      Some Managers do bad things by letting quarterly profits and the chance for personal gain drive them to layoff good employees for foolish reasons.

      Some Unions do good things by fighting for employee safety, employee training, etc.
      Some Unions do bad things by demanding compensation and job protection based on seniority, not capability, performance and work challenge.

      The question is are we capable of valuing the good in these individuals / organizations, while holding them accountable for the bad?

  20. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 06/04/2015 - 08:20 am.

    Circling back to the same false claim…. again

    The notion that job insecurity promotes better work ethics is simply nonsense base on stereotypes about human nature. Likewise the suggestion that seniority or getting rid of it would erase educational disparity or produce better schools is just another false claim. Study after study has shown the private schools free of organized labor and seniority rules are under performing public school on a variety of measures.

    These seniority complaints are always accompanied by mumbo jumbo about meritocracy and “performance” but the bottom line is the bottom line. Companies don’t like seniority rules because workers that have been on the job for longest tend to be collecting higher wages. Companies simply want to replace high wage workers with lower wage workers.

    Labor contracts don’t make it impossible to fire “bad” workers, they just establish a procedure for doing so. When “bad” workers remain on the job union or no union it’s due to incompetent management, not seniority. These seniority complaints make a bizarre assumption that there’s in inverse relationship between experience, education, and institutional memory. Such assumptions are almost by definition incompetent management assumptions.

    The idea that seniority is ruining the MPLS school system makes a bizarre assumption that a handful of “bad” teachers are responsible for the districts problems. This is nonsense and it’s not a serious attempt to work the problem.

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