Minnesota has one of the worst counselor-to-student rates in the country

Interesting story from Christopher Magan at the PiPress on the paucity of counselors in Minnesota schools. “[Two Minnesotans] are part of a small but growing breed of school counselors in Minnesota who work full time with elementary students. According to the latest available U.S. Department of Education data, there are only 128 such positions in the state. That means Minnesota has the highest ratio of students to counselors at the elementary level of any state— there are 3,428 school students for every licensed counselor. And Minnesota has one of the highest overall ratios of students to school counselors. There are 771 students for every professional, the federal data show. The national K-12 average is 473-to-1 and the American School Counselors Association, an advocate for the profession, recommends a ratio of 250-to-1. Few states have ratios that low. Keith Hovis, spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Education, said the state doesn’t mandate ratios for school counseling positions and leaves hiring decisions to local officials. The low number of counselors is often caused by tight budgets, said Alan Burkard, president of the American School Counselors Association and chairman of the counselor education graduate program at Marquette University in Milwaukee. When administrators are forced to cut staff, too often counselor positions are at risk. ‘I think a big part of it has to do with the pressure on budgets,’ Burkard said. ‘To a certain degree, and I don’t mean this to be derogatory to schools, but it is short-sighted.’ “

Patrick Condon of the AP files a piece talking about why the state’s GOP made so little progress on restricting union power during this year’s legislative session. He writes: “Fifteen months after taking control of Minnesota’s legislature, Republicans have put a gay marriage ban on November’s ballot, moved to expand gun rights, and cast dozens of votes to cut state spending. But there’s one issue where they failed to get traction: watering down the strength of organized labor with a right-to-work law. The problem isn’t so much opposition from Democrats. And it isn’t a lack of enthusiasm for the idea, which many conservatives consider essential for creating a business-friendly economic climate. The problem lies with Republicans who fear triggering a huge rebellion among opposition labor unions and sending a surge of sympathetic voters to the polls in November to vote Democratic. … The passage of a right-to-work measure in Indiana this year emboldened supporters in Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri to try to carry the initiative across the Rust Belt. But many GOP leaders were instead more impressed by the furor that the unions kicked up in defeat. Throngs of protesters mobbed the state capitol in Indianapolis, and Democratic lawmakers periodically disrupted the legislative session with boycotts. Huge demonstrations also came after Wisconsin Republicans stripped public employees of collective bargaining rights last year.”

A very sad story from Clearwater County. Kelly Smith of the Strib reports:Two of the three children who went into a frigid lake while boating with their father in Northern Minnesota on Friday afternoon have died. The oldest child, 8, was airlifted to a Minneapolis hospital after first responders revived him. The boy was in critical condition Saturday, according to Clearwater County Sheriff Mike Erickson. The boy’s siblings, 6 and 2, couldn’t be revived after the small sailboat they were in capsized in Clearwater Lake, about 10 miles south of Lower Red Lake. … The air temperature about the time of the incident was 59 degrees, with southeast winds at 22 miles per hour. However, water temperatures were significantly lower, in the 40s or lower. Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said counseling was being offered to the first responders, who were hit hard by the tragedy.”

At the PiPress, Bill Salisbury puts a little lipstick on this year’s session: “A pair of ideological opposites — House DFL Minority Leader Paul Thissen and Phil Krinkie, president of the conservative Taxpayers League of Minnesota — have already labeled it a ‘do-nothing session.’ That judgment may be too harsh, and premature. Lawmakers have passed and Gov. Mark Dayton has signed a bill to speed up environmental permitting, a move they hope will promote business expansion and create jobs. Last week, the Republican-controlled majorities delivered on their long-held goal of putting a constitutional amendment on the fall ballot to require voters to show a photo ID. And the University of Minnesota would be allowed to sell beer at its football stadium under legislation that’s flowing toward passage. Dayton said last week that he’s disappointed they haven’t done more, especially regarding jobs. But Senate Majority Leader Dave Senjem, R-Rochester, said lawmakers aren’t done. … The governor wants to give businesses a $3,000 tax credit for each unemployed Minnesotan, military veteran or recent college graduate they hire. Republicans rejected that idea. Instead, they want to cut taxes, especially for businesses. Their ‘Jobs and Tax Relief Act’ would phase out a statewide property tax levy on businesses over the next 12 years. It would save business owners $800 million a year when fully implemented. Senate Taxes Committee Chair Julianne Ortman, R-Chanhassen, said those businesses would then create thousands of jobs.” When she says, “would then create,” I presume she means like a contract, right? With penalties if they don’t?

After Voter ID’s ballot approval, Mark Fishenich of The Mankato Free Press writes: “For the people who run local elections, though, the issue goes much beyond the standard partisan debate. ‘They are not understanding, I don’t think, what they are putting into law,’ said Blue Earth County Elections Director Patty O’Connor. A strict reading of the legislation passed last week leaves serious questions about whether some Minnesota soldiers serving overseas will be able cast an absentee ballot, O’Connor said. The traditional route to casting a ballot by most nursing home residents could disappear. Same-day registration, which has helped Minnesota lead the nation in voter turnout, may be in question without a large investment in new equipment at every precinct in the state. ‘It’s going to be a whole new ball game,’ O’Connor said. Nicollet County Auditor Bridgette Kennedy said it initially might seem like a no-brainer that voters should prove their identity with a state ID card. But the potential negative implications require digging a little deeper. And fixing problems later will be difficult if the requirement is enshrined in the state constitution, according to Kennedy. ‘At first glance and at first listen, (people think), ‘Of course, voter ID. Duh,’ she said. ‘But you have to stop and think a little bit deeper to make it part of the Constitution.’ ”

Being replaced by a Walmart is just insult to injury. Bob Shaw of the PiPress reports that the Twin Cities will very soon be down to one drive-in theater: “Gerry Herringer is planning a funeral for the icon he created 46 years ago, the Cottage View Drive-in. He says the theater will meet its end the same way thousands of others across the country already have — under a developer’s bulldozer. ‘This is going to be the closing of an era,’ said Herringer, 77. The Cottage View’s closing will leave only one drive-in — the Valley Hi Theater in Lake Elmo — in a metro area that once had 21. The news recently that the Cottage View probably will be replaced by a Walmart was met with howls of protest from hundreds of fans. … city officials said that Walmart is proposing a 178,000-square-foot store on the 22-acre site. Other stores are expected to be built on an additional 67 acres. ‘It’s a good thing for the city,’ said Mayor Myron Bailey. He said the development would bring in more than 16 times the current property tax. The theater now pays about $20,000 a year, he said — compared with a projected $325,000 for the Walmart building alone.”

So the U of M has a 59 million-person lead on Facebook. Mary Jane Smetanka’s Strib story says: “The U’s Minnesota Population Center is the world’s largest repository of census data, with data on a staggering 859 million people. Social media giant Facebook has information on a mere 800 million folks. The U’s center is a paradise for data addicts, with 765 record sets from 65 countries that date back to the 1787 census of Denmark. Those statistics were recently enriched by the addition of the 1940 U.S. census, a treasure trove of detail that makes statisticians drool. … The Population Center is working with the genealogy website Ancestry.com to make the 1940 census accessible to the public by digitizing records so they are searchable, but researchers will have to access family records on commercial sites rather than through the center. To protect privacy, the center strips names from its research files, and records are converted into a code that requires training to use.”

Some things are more of a necessity than others … Maya Rao of the Strib writes about the influence being brought to bear to save a liquor store: “[N]early a year after a tornado roared through north Minneapolis, the Broadway Liquor Outlet’s windows are broken and boarded, the door is plastered with an ‘order to raze and remove building’ and the plywood features slogans such as ‘we pledge to stand up for a better future.’ Dean Rose, 46, is pressing ahead. Legislation pushed by Rose’s politically connected consultant, Jackie Cherryhomes, is making its way through the State Capitol to bypass a lengthy city rezoning procedure so Rose can relocate Broadway Liquor Outlet across the street. Cherryhomes’ longtime developer client has partnered with Rose to include the liquor store in a bigger development with 75 affordable housing units and other shops.”

You have to love the Bloomberg story by Steven Church on the Buffet Holdings executives who got bonuses both times they took their company through bankruptcy: “Michael Andrews, chief executive of Buffets Holdings Inc., helped guide the restaurant owner through bankruptcy twice in the past four years. Both times, he was rewarded with court-approved bonuses. Andrews, Chief Financial Officer Keith Wall and the Eagan-based company’s concept officer are among 16 managers who may split about $2.3 million during Buffets’ current bankruptcy. The three men also shared in about $1 million in bonuses handed out in the company’s 2008 case, according to court records. Both bonus programs took advantage of a common loophole to avoid a 2005 federal law that restricts extra pay for executives who put their companies into bankruptcy. Instead of payments made through so-called Key Employee Retention Plans, which Congress made harder to hand out, bankrupt companies now routinely set up Key Employee Incentive Plans, claiming the extra pay is tied to progress in reorganizing operations.” It’s like Whack-A-Mole with that Minnesota crowd.

Comments (10)

  1. Submitted by Pete Barrett on 04/09/2012 - 09:30 am.

    Execs Rewarded For Bankruptcy?

    Corporate executives get rewarded for repeatedly running their companies into bankruptcy? Sounds like heads I win, tails you lose.

    Just remember, it’s those union thugs ruining the economy.

  2. Submitted by Jackson Cage on 04/09/2012 - 09:45 am.

    There’s a name for those kinds of people…

    like the execs at Buffet Holdings….Job Creators.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/09/2012 - 11:03 am.

    Inexcusable

    While I very much doubt that the father of the two boys who died in Clearwater Lake will be charged with any crime, his decision to take three small children sailing on a frigid lake in early April was criminal. Even in July, it would have been dangerous for one adult to take three children out. To do so with water temperatures where they are was inexcusable.

    One can only hope that their deaths will send a message to other parents.

    • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 04/09/2012 - 02:27 pm.

      Get off your high horse

      This was an accident caused by a large wind gust. I was in the hospital when the kids arrived, it was devastating to everyone, caregivers, parents,neighbors. Just an accident, nothing more. There was no negligence, so quit insinuating it. Arrogant, heartless and stupid. Shame on you.

      • Submitted by Rachel Kahler on 04/09/2012 - 03:10 pm.

        Yeah, stuff happens

        But more often than not, stuff happens when you’re doing something inadvisable. This was an accident that was ultimately caused by someone who had no business bringing 3 young children onto a lake in poor conditions (low experience, high winds, low temperatures, single adult to 3 children, etc.). The gust of wind was just a trigger on the accident waiting to happen. The tragedy of the situation doesn’t change the fact that the accident was more a series of poor judgements. This man will ultimately have to live with that, reminded by the very fact that he and only 1 child survived. I do feel bad for him, but I certainly hope someone else learns a lesson before more lives are needlessly lost.

        • Submitted by Robert Gauthier on 04/09/2012 - 06:51 pm.

          Read the post

          The comment made had to do with allegations of “criminal” conduct, it was an accident. Just like getting hit by an ATV while walking out to get the mail, falling out of a deer stand and any of the many things we see there. The story I heard was a bit different from what was reported and admittedly being here in person never matches up to a Google search.
          Let’s just say it was a tragedy, maybe avoidable, and just say we are so sorry for the family. That is the Christian and responsible thing to do. We see a lot of tragedy and this one hit home for all involved, hard. Being sarcastic might make some of you happy, but that says more about you than the family.

      • Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/09/2012 - 05:24 pm.

        Arrogant and heartless, maybe. But correct.

        Of course it was devastating. Death usually is, particularly the deaths of young children which easily could have been avoided.

        It was no accident that the father took his three young children sailing over icy waters. Anyone who has ever been on a sailboat knows that they can tip over. Certainly the owner of one should know this, even if he’s yet to take it out. There is no way that a single adult could right the boat and/or get three children out of the freezing water in time to save them all.

        Stupid is putting your children at risk in this way.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/09/2012 - 02:31 pm.

      Tragic

      According to the Bemidji Pioneer, the father was an inexperienced sailor with a new boat. He does not (from the story) seem to have known what you do in a capsize. Winds were blowing 22 mph, too much wind for a small boat on cold water.

  4. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/09/2012 - 02:59 pm.

    1) A friend of mine serves as a student counselor

    at a community college with about 800 students. A few years ago, the college was forced by budget cutbacks to lay off every counselor except her. She is, of course, left with a workload no one should face,and students who need help with career and class choices and/or psychological problems are bound to be shortchanged through no fault of hers.

    The legislature needs to think about the services students of any age need in order to do well. And while they’re at it, music, other arts classes and phys ed are as important to learning “the basics”as any extra time spent, for instance, on math.

  5. Submitted by Jerry Von Korff on 04/09/2012 - 03:03 pm.

    Counselor cuts

    During the period 2004-2011, the general education formula increased 11 percent, or about a percent and one half per year. Non-personnel costs increased by about 2 percent per year, and collectively bargained-for personnel costs at a greater rate. At the same time the rate at which state mandated special education cost increased exceeded the increase in state provided revenues, so most school districts experienced substantially greater percentage increase in what we call the “cross subsidy”. The formula increased from $4601 to $5124, an increase of $523 in that seven year time period. But many school districts lost $300 to $400 of that $523 as a result of increased cross subsidy. After subtracting the net cross subsidy loss, for example, St. Louis Park experience an effective formula increase of only $115 dollars over the seven years. In other words, over that seven year period, St. Louis Park’s effective total seven year formula increase, (after deducting the losses from special education cross subsidy increase,) was only 2 percent, under a half percent per year. White Bear Lake’s effective net formula increase was only $108. St. Cloud’s was $232 or a seven year total net formula increase of about 4.5% in seven years. In short, many, if not most districts are receiving formula increases, (after deduction of cross subsidy), that is in the neighborhood of 1/2 percent per year or less, far below the rate of inflation. That’s where the counselors, and textbooks, and a bunch of other things are going: to cover the difference between the net funding increase, the unreimbursed special education costs, and the increase in labor costs that persistently exceeds the increase in net revenues.

    In code language, we say that these cuts are coming from “tight budgets,” but in reality it is a combination of factors that drive personnel costs up faster than state revenues. In four of the last seven years there was no formula increase at all; the rising special education expenditure gap thus decreased many districts effective revenues, but still labor costs rose. We are not showering undeserved money on our employees in public education — but education budgets are systemically out of balance, because the democrats protect labor’s right to squeeze out more increases that districts can afford, and the republicans make sure that districts do not have near enough increased revenues to cover their reasonable costs.

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