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Daily Glean: A poor Choice?

The Strib’s Terry Collins examines the $7 million Choice Is Yours program that buses 2,000 Minneapolis kids to suburban schools yet doesn’t produce superior test scores, compared with similar city-system kids. The Minneapolis NAACP sued to make the program happen, but now the group’s president says, “Overall, it’s not working.” Still, parents and desegregation fans love it. So do normally test-score-obsessed state ed officials, raising the question: Do they favor a low-results program because it forestalls a wider and possibly more expensive gap-closing plan? There are also unmentioned echoes here of charter schools — another parent-favored choice producing mixed results.

Sticking to the schools beat, the PiPress’ Doug Belden reports that St. Paul will ditch waiting lists for many popular public schools this fall. District officials don’t want kids to move midyear; the policy will make it easier to place kids entering the district after the year begins. Administrators acknowledge that helping those new customers might boost enrollment in the shrinking district. But the district’s existing families — aka potential squeaky wheels — are not heard from. Some special-eligibility schools can keep their queues.

Fear stalks the Strib this morning. A front-pager examines disaster plans if a first-ever tornado hits downtown Minneapolis. (What’s St. Paul? Chopped liver?) Atlanta was hit earlier this year, one of five downtowns in the past 11 years, writes a myth-puncturing Bill McAuliffe. Minneapolis officials say they’re working with building owners on evac plans and with — gulp — MnDOT on traffic escape routes. Atlanta lacked downtown sirens; presumably you can hear them in downtown Minneapolis office towers? From the graphic, it looks like suburban office nodes have as much to worry about. Money quote: “It’s scaremongering — I admit that!”

And for reciprocity-leveraging local parents sending their collegians to Madison, the Strib reports that University of Wisconsin students are living in fear after a student’s murder Wednesday. It’s one of three unsolved killings in the “usually laid-back college town” since the summer, and the second involving a student victim. Both were women. Many students don’t walk alone at night in the normally party-hearty burg. Seven percent of Wisconsin students are Minnesotans. Violent crime in Mad-town dropped 15 percent last year, but that doesn’t seem to mollify anyone.

It doesn’t get much more senselessly tragic than an underage driver in a stolen Buick killing a mom and seriously injuring two kids on their way to Sunday school. An unidentified 15-year-old, initially stopped for a traffic violation, was going 60 when he slammed into 26-year-old Hanna Abukar’s vehicle near the Lake & 35W Kmart. The kid was caught in the store; no details yet on him.

More on the chase: Police and one witness say cops followed procedure when the pursuit became dangerous – breaking off the chase and turning off their sirens. However, WCCO’s Maya Nishikawa reports that it’s unclear if officers left the chase route, another procedural step; they were close enough to the debris cloud. “I thought I was part of a movie set,” says the witness.

I’m a sucker for energy-efficiency stories, and the Strib has an interesting one about St. Paul testing electricity-sipping LEDs in streetlights. Existing high-pressure sodium bulbs cost less to buy and maintain over 50,000 hours of use: $190 to $240 versus $400 to $500. As for operating expense, the story says LEDs use half of the electricity, but never gives us a dollar figure, so we never get to the bottom line cost/savings. For you fluorescent-haters: LED light apparently also stinks, but there’s no mercury.

PiPress Capitol reporter Rachel Stassen-Berger blogs that Gov. Pawlenty will announce the bonding bill’s fate at a 2:30 p.m. news conference today. She says he’s had the bill since Friday and may have waited to assess line-item surgery rather than a straight veto.

There are zero local stories on the PiPress business page this morning.

Sign of the times: the Southwest Journal reports that Minneapolis is looking at extending building permits for owners of moribund condo developments from one year to three. The rule would apply to projects with five or more units. The extensions could go away when — if? — the condo market rebounds.

A 20-year-old survived a long fall
from a Galtier Plaza patio; the Strib calls it 10 stories, the PiPress nine. The Strib calls it a suicide attempt; the PiPress says he is a Galtier resident. The man is in critical condition with severe head wounds. (Hat tip to Mnspeak.)

Yesterday’s news: Careening like an over-served out-of-towner, the Strib’s Sunday pro-4-a.m.-bar-closing editorial hit the ditch when it suggested moving the GOP convention to Mystic Lake. (“You want Vegas, Republicans, head to Prior Lake!”) That casino is the only one in the metro area that doesn’t serve booze; in fact, it prohibits alcohol anywhere in its facility.

Nort spews: It’s not often you get to pick your playoff opponent, but the Wild liked Colorado enough to lose to them in a shootout. Minnesota gets the Avs instead of pesky Calgary. They’ll meet at the X on Wednesday.

First A-Rod, now G-Man? Baseball writers should exercise discretion when reporting steroid rumors, but this one is hard to ignore:  “[T]he Twins’ two World Championships may have been aided by their team being among the first to discover … well, I’d better not go there. Nor will I point out that Gaetti was bald and had acne and Puckett died young.”  The writer is famed stats guru Bill James, but his quip is newsworthy because he’s also the Boston Red Sox’ senior baseball operations adviser. Does Major League Baseball let one club’s officials publicly slime another club’s titles without proof? Local beat guys, you’re up!


Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Ed Day on 04/08/2008 - 10:28 pm.

    Not to be entirely stupid about the Choice is Yours, but shouldn’t student satisfaction be the primary measure of the program? Think about it: a potential B student is disgruntled/uncomfortable enough at the Minneapolis school to want to transfer to Robbinsdale–and becomes a B student. Raw test scores indicate no improvement or advantage over “similar students” (who were comfortable enough to stay in Minneapolis), but don’t you think that student might not have done as well at the Minneapolis school?

    Do we get upset when regular open-enrollment students (say transferring from Roseville to the St. Anthony or Mounds View district) don’t show a statistical improvement over the peers they left behind. My guess is that no one has cared enough to look into it.

    All Choice Is Yours seems to do is make open enrollment possible for some students who couldn’t afford it otherwise. (Very often transportation is a barrier to taking advantage of open enrollment).

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