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Strib: Drop 'seniority only' for teachers

The Strib editorializes in favor of doing away with seniority-only based teacher lay-offs. It says: “Using seniority as one of several factors -- but not the only factor -- in determining layoffs would serve the best interests of students and the teaching profession. Gov. Mark Dayton should approve this bill when it reaches his desk. Studies show that effective teaching is one of the most important in-school variables that affect student learning. School-district managers need the flexibility to retain their most effective instructors when they have to reduce staff. … [Gov. Dayton] should be encouraged by the fact that nearly 80 percent of Minnesotans agree that teacher effectiveness should be considered when making layoff and firing decisions, according to a recent survey by the Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now (MinnCAN).”

The Metropolitan Airport Commission is being coy about the name of the new airline coming to MSP. Pat Doyle’s Strib story reports: “While not disclosing the name of the carrier, the Metropolitan Airports Commission said it is an established airline that flies internationally but will serve only domestic routes from MSP. The MAC plans to identify the airline Wednesday.” Virgin America has international routes.

“They deserved it.” That’s the take away line from yesterday’s trial of the guy who ran down and killed a man in Dinkytown last spring. Says Abby Simons of the Strib: “Timothy Bakdash just wanted to scare a guy he believed started a fight with him outside a Dinkytown bar after closing early one April morning, his defense attorney said during opening statements Monday in his murder trial in Hennepin County. Defense attorney Joe Tamburino said Bakdash, who was drunk and high at the time, didn't realized he had struck Benjamin Van Handel until he was told the next day that a young man was seriously hurt. In its opening statement, the prosecution said that a passenger who was with Bakdash when he mowed down the University of Minnesota students tried to make him stop and asked, ‘Why did you do that?’ Bakdash answered, ‘They deserved it,’ the prosecution contended.”

An antidote has been announced to the white pride rally, or whatever they’re calling it, in Duluth this Saturday. The News Tribune is saying: “A group that has urged people to stay away from a planned white-pride rally Saturday morning at Duluth's Civic Center is offering an alternative. The group plans to hold a unity rally at the Aerial Lift Bridge at 10 a.m. ‘We are looking at this as an opportunity for people to recommit, as a community, to work on racial justice and to grow together as a stronger community,’ Joel Kilgour, of Loaves and Fishes, said. ‘There will be hundreds of people there. We are going to take a big group picture in front of the Lift Bridge.’ The rally is being held in response to a white-pride rally by the Supreme White Alliance scheduled to begin at the same time.”

Perhaps fresh off his big wins in Michigan and Arizona, Mitt Romney will be in Fargo this Thursday. Says the AP story: “North Dakota Republican spokesman Matt Becker says Romney will visit Wrigley Mechanical in Fargo at 8 a.m. Thursday. Wrigley Mechanical is run by the family of North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley. … Romney has not campaigned in North Dakota this year. He did not visit North Dakota four years ago when he won the state's Republican presidential caucuses. In 2008, Romney got 36 percent of the vote in a five-candidate race.” What do you think? Will he draw a bigger crowd than he did at Ford Field in Detroit?

John Nichols at Madison’s liberal Capital Times lays into Gov. Scott Walker’s Koch brothers connections … again. “ … the Americans for Prosperity groups that the right-wing funders founded and financed certainly seemed to be active on Walker’s behalf. But AFP and its foundation could not campaign openly for Walker or other candidates, as they are tax-exempt organizations operating under laws that protect civic and educational charities. So it was incredible when David Koch admitted in an interview with the Palm Beach Post that he planned to support Walker with spending by AFP. ‘We’re helping him, as we should,’ Koch said of Walker. ‘We’ve gotten pretty good at this over the years. We’ve spent a lot of money in Wisconsin. We’re going to spend more.’ The Post added: ‘By ‘we’ he says he means Americans for Prosperity, which is spending about $700,000 on an ‘It’s working’ television ad buy in the state.’ Could Koch really be admitting to a violation for the Internal Revenue Service code that says organizations such as AFP are ‘absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office’? It certainly sounded like it.” You know, it kinda does, doesn’t it?

Over at Power Line, John Hinderaker takes an interest in a recent Public Policy Poll on the positives/negatives of each state. He writes: “Public Policy Polling has run an interesting series of surveys, asking Americans whether they have a favorable or unfavorable view of various states. The question strikes me as odd; it makes sense to have a favorable or unfavorable view of a state’s government, but of the state itself? I would say that I have a favorable opinion of all of the states. As you might expect, the results show strong partisan trends: Republicans love Texas and dislike California, while Democrats love California and hate Texas. On the other hand, everyone likes Hawaii. The five most popular states, with their favorable/unfavorable numbers in parenthesis, are Hawaii (54/10), Colorado (44/9), Tennessee (48/14), South Dakota (42/8) and Virginia (45/13). The least popular include California (27/44), Illinois (19/29) and New Jersey (25/32). There are some anomalies. Wisconsin (40/17) is significantly more popular than Minnesota (27/17). What is the difference? The only explanation I can think of is that Wisconsin’s sports teams have been better than Minnesota’s in recent years. Another odd fact: both liberals and conservatives like Minnesota, but moderates disapprove of the state. What could possibly be going on there? … Colorado is the second most favorably viewed state, but most of the other mountain states are not far behind, e.g., Montana (39/7) and Idaho (30/11). The anomaly is Utah. At 24/27, it is the fifth-least favorably perceived state. How can that be? If you like Colorado, Idaho and Montana, why would you dislike Utah? I can’t think of any reason other than anti-Mormon bias. This is borne out by the fact that liberals and Democrats, who are most prone to ethnic and religious bigotry, are the ones who actively dislike Utah.” That’s right … “the fact” that “liberals and Democrats are most prone to ethnic and religious bigotry.” I mean somewhere it’s been peer reviewed.

As we prepare to succumb to The White Death, the Mankato Free Press was reporting last night that the National Weather service was dealing with a balky website. “The National Weather Service in the Twin Cities reports it is having trouble with its website and some people are not able to access it as the winter storm approaches. The statement on the NWS Facebook page says: ‘Some people are having issues reaching our web site at this time. The issues are a result of some changes made to our web farm, to prepare for the increase in traffic we normally see when a winter storm approaches our area.” OMG! Someone tweet the blizzard!

Paul Douglas is saying that the snow will be heavy stuff. “Regardless of what type of precipitation we get, it is looking like we will get some substantial moisture with this storm. In fact, some of us will get some of the heaviest amounts of liquid precipitation in a single day since" (at MSP Airport):

  • Last 0.50" was: Oct. 12 when we had 0.54" of liquid.
  • Last 0.75" was: Aug. 1 when we had 0.84" of liquid.
  • Last 1.00" was: July 16 when we had 1.06" of liquid.
  • Last 1.50" was: July 15 when we had 1.85” of liquid.

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Comments (5)

He must not travel much

When discussing why Wisconsin is so much "more popular" than Minnesota, Mr. Hinderacker expresses puzzlement, saying "The only explanation I can think of is that Wisconsin’s sports teams have been better than Minnesota’s in recent years".

Has he never heard of the Wisconsin Dells?

From :

"Wisconsin Dells is not only “The Waterpark Capital of the World!®,” it is now one of the top vacation destinations in the country according to’s annual Traveler’s Choice rankings. In 2010, it was ranked #1 in the U.S in TripAdvisor’s “favorite family vacation destination” category, beating out popular destinations in Florida and California. Then, in March 2011, it showed up as #2 in the Travelers’ Choice rankings for “favorite family amusement park destination.” The rankings are based on millions of real and unbiased reviews and opinions from travelers around the world."

Visited by travelers from around the world. Hmmmmm . . . . That WOULD sort of tend to lead to pretty high levels of awareness/popularity for our state to the east, a knowledgeable person might think . . . . . .

wait a minute ...

I've always been told that Hugedale was the number 1 national attraction.

On teacher seniority...

The mentality that there are scads of older teachers who should not be teaching our children has been fostered and nurtured by those who want to defund the public schools. I don't understand why this is put in the context of layoffs. If a teacher is ineffective and should not be in front of our young people, the building principal should have several evaluations that state the incompetence and due process to fire should ensue. You will then here the argument that it is impossible to fire a teacher. That is incorrect! Yes, the union will make sure that due process is served, but I can tell you from anexperience in one of the elementary schools in our district that it is not only possible but has been done.

Teachers are, in this political climate, being made the scapegoats for the perceived wrongs in our schools. Teachers are not resistant to being evaluated on their effectiveness; however, they are resistant to an arbitrary evaluation system that could place personality, popularity, and a different teaching style as the end all to keeping their job.

14 years ago when our oldest was going into 1st grade I asked numerous parents their opinion of several different teachers (of course, we wanted our child to be taught by the best). The teacher she eventually "got" was described as difficult, unbending, I was told by several that "you will either love her or hate her." We loved her. Her teaching style was a perfect fit for our oldest. She was not a good fit for our third child. He did not have her as a teacher, but we would have "hated her" as a teacher for our son. So was she a good teacher? Would our son have tested lower than our daughter because the teaching style was not a good fit?

In my opinion, it should be difficult, but not impossible, to fire a teacher and the system we have in place allows for that. When that system winnows out the ineffective teachers as a matter of regular course, then the "seniority" issue is totally appropriate. Teachers have 3 years of teaching where they can be fired for no reason at all. Over 50% of teachers leave the profession during this period. I had a conversation last wkend w/a woman whose son is a second year teacher at a Minneapolis charter school. He most likely will go into another profession because he is struggling to actually teach--discipline issues are at the forefront and he is frustrated and thinking there are other more attractive options for his livelihood.

It is a foolish and short-sighted thought that younger teachers are the answer to our education woes. Do teachers need to be evaluated and held accountable? A resounding "yes". Develop a sound and reasonable evaluation system. Then come back and revisit this seniority issue...

Disclaimer: I am a parent of four children, two in a public high school, one in a public middle school, and one attending a private college.


I'm happy to see the Strib standing up for Minnesota citizens against a Governor who has shown himself determined to support his Tom Dooher & Co. no matter what the people he was elected to serve say.

Can we expect a similar support regarding the voter integrity bill? 72% citizen support isn't 80%, but it's an overwhelming majority.

What the people Dayton was elected to serve say?

Mr. Swift conveniently ignores the support of Minnesota citizens for the good job they feel the governor has been doing. The inconvenient truth is:

Minnesota Poll: Dayton hangs on to support even after tough year

And your continuing union bashing is pathetic. The unions are not the ones stopping Minnesota school administrators from doing their job - removing teachers who actually are under performing, pitifully small though that number may be.

And you continue to ignore the evidence from elsewhere that a world class school system can be run with unionized teachers. Another inconvenient truth?

Finally the Orwellian named voter integrity bill is nothing but. This is an ALEC script designed to cut down on the number of Democratic voters, since those are the ones who will be disproportionately disenfranchised should this ill-advised legislation/amendment actually pass into law.