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Center of the American Experiment ‘wins’ Bunkum Award

It’s not likely they’ll frame this one for the office wall. In the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss writes: “[A]nd, now, the Bunkum Awards. Presented by the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the awards are given for what the presenters say is bad educational research. How bad? Given that a great deal of educational research is bad, the winners have to shock the sensibilities of the awarders. … The “Scary Black Straw Man” Award goes to Katherine Kersten and the Center [of] the American Experiment for “Our Immense Achievement Gap: Embracing Proven Remedies While Avoiding a Race-Based Recipe for Disaster.” From the policy center: Using apocalyptic language throughout her report, the author alludes to a ‘train wreck’ and massive ‘liabilities’ and a ‘race-based recipe for disaster’ if state policymakers, in their zeal to pursue race-based school reform policies, continue colluding with advocates for desegregation, busing and school funding. … ‘What brought tears of appreciation to our judges’ eyes was the lengthy, heart-rending and compassionate soliloquy about the need to rectify the injustice of the achievement gap – followed by an equally passionate rejection of initiatives sensibly designed to close it.’ ” We’re so proud to call them ours.

So, put another way, this guy is a recidivist raw-milk pusher? The AP says: “A Minnesota farmer is accused of violating his probation by selling unpasteurized milk. Prosecutors say Michael Hartmann once again is facing charges of selling raw milk in his long-running legal battle over state regulations. KEYC-TV says the 59-year-old rural Gibbon farmer is charged with selling raw milk, improper food labeling and selling produce without a license. Hartmann was fined $585 last year and placed on probation after pleading guilty to two misdemeanors in an agreement with prosecutors.”

Apparently it’s back to 2007, if you’re a community bank. The Strib’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes: “Lower loan loss provisions helped bolster profits at Minnesota’s community banks last year, with earnings reaching their highest point since 2007. Year-end profits jumped by half to $603 million in 2012, according to fourth-quarter numbers out Tuesday by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC). The FDIC report shows continuing improvement among the state’s 350-plus community banks. It’s the 11th consecutive quarter that combined profits have increased.”

Related … Annie Baxter of MPR says: “Home prices in the Twin Cities finished 2012 with their strongest gains in more than a decade, according to a new report Tuesday. Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index show Twin Cities home prices in December up 12 percent compared to the same month the previous year. That is the Twin Cities’ biggest annual price gain since 2001.”

A 30% mix of biofuels is called “aspirational.” In the PiPress, Leslie Brooks Suzukamo says: “Minnesota legislators will get a chance Wednesday, Feb. 27, to look at a bill that would allow a different kind of corn-based biofuel besides ethanol to be mixed with gasoline. The bill also would set an ‘aspirational goal’ of displacing more petroleum use by calling for Minnesota gasoline to contain a 30 percent mixture of biofuels by 2025, said Tim Rudnicki, executive director of the Minnesota Bio-Fuels Association, a state trade group. The proposed 30 percent blend is not a mandate, Rudnicki said.” Voluntary compliance has worked so well on environmental issues.

WCCO-TV’s Pat Kessler aims his Reality Check at the GOP’s intramural fights over gay marriage. He says: “[F]or Republicans, there’s a generation gap. Only 30 percent of the overall party favors gay marriage; but 70 percent of Republicans under the age of 30 support it. … The Washington-based Democratic think tank Third Way says 98.5 percent of state legislators who voted for gay marriage were re-elected. Out of 196 elections in New York and Washington state, only five pro-gay marriage lawmakers lost their seats — four in New York and one in Washington. And in three of those elections, other factors — like corruption– might have played a bigger factor.”

The GleanIn a PiPress commentary, veteran GOP figure Pat Anderson steps up and writes: “Republicans in Minnesota and across the country, many are rightfully asking: What went wrong? And perhaps more importantly, how do we move forward? We’re not losing elections because our principles are weak, and we’re not losing young voters because our message isn’t relevant to them; indeed, conservative principles of limited government, individual liberty and personal responsibility are more important now than ever. We’re struggling as a party because we continue to dangerously alienate significant groups of Minnesotans — including same-sex couples and the people who know and love them.” What percentage of “the base” would you say is gay?

It’s a Minnesota takeover in the White House. MPR’s Brett Neely reports: “A Minnesota native already runs the White House staff. Now another will become the top national security aide to Vice President Joe Biden. Biden named Jake Sullivan to be his new National Security Advisor on Tuesday. Sullivan, who’s from Minneapolis, comes to the White House from the State Department, where he served as the head of the highly influential Policy Planning Department and also worked as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff. Sullivan also worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and served briefly as U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s chief counsel.” Maybe this is how the Vikings win a Super Bowl.

Is that Nancy Grace landing at Holman Field? Mara Gottfried of the PiPress says: “Kira Trevino’s husband reported his 30-year-old wife missing Friday, Feb. 22, setting off frantic pleas from friends and family on social media for help to find the St. Paul woman. Trevino’s car was found unoccupied at the Mall of America, where she worked, and police searched the couple’s Payne-Phalen home Monday. Police ‘located enough evidence to show that a crime had been committed in the house,’ St. Paul police Sgt. Paul Paulos said Tuesday. He didn’t elaborate, citing the ongoing investigation. Police arrested Jeffery Trevino, Kira’s husband, Tuesday on suspicion of homicide. Kira Trevino hasn’t been found and Paulos said they still consider her a missing person.”

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/27/2013 - 09:55 am.

    The ONLY Thing “Experimental” About C.A.E.

    Is their continuously-changing efforts to re-frame, re-image, and re-obfuscate “conservative” ideas that have ALREADY been proven NOT to work in multiple places and times,…

    seeking to convince the unwary and the unwise that THIS time,…

    this thing which has never worked before at any time in any place,…

    and which, for reasons obvious to those who understand human nature,…

    never will and never COULD work,…

    isn’t the same old enrich-the-rich, impoverish-the-middle-class, punish-the-poor, everyone-would-be-doing-just-fine-if-they-were-only-EXACTLY-LIKE-US agenda, but is some completely NEW thing,…

    (which of course, it never is).

    At least it seems they’re less and less likely to get the general public to support their proposals and philosophy,…

    although they seem to remain deluded enough to sincerely believe those things, themselves.

    The sooner we relegate folks such as those at the Center for the American Experiment to the dustbin into which society eventually dumps all ideas and ideologies which reveal themselves to be useless if not severely damaging,…

    the more rapidly and easily we’ll be able devise practical and workable solutions to our society’s most pressing problems,…

    solutions which the folks at C.A.E. detest because they tend to cost money, which of course, violates their overarching and underlying agenda.

  2. Submitted by Virginia Martin on 02/27/2013 - 01:44 pm.

    disproven theories

    I wish the StarTrib would quit publishing these cockamanie articles by Kersten and others (George Will, for example, and Krautammer). They are largely inaccurate and the claims and outcomes they pretend will follow these ideas are ludicrous.
    I am especially bothered by the hate that emanates from these columns, especially Kersten, who seems to dislike ANYONE who is note a white protestant male or female. Muslims! BEWARE! We’ll all be under Sharia law soon..

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/27/2013 - 02:14 pm.

      Not quite true

      Ms. Kersten also approves of Catholics, as long as they don’t get all hung up on that social justice malarkey. Catholics are fine, as long as they espouse a deep longing for pre-Vatican II theology.

  3. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/27/2013 - 01:57 pm.

    Not what I would have called a “study”.

    I’ve read only a portion of Katherine Kerstens’s piece and have not even begun checking her authorities, but what I’ve seen so far doesn’t inspire confidence.

    The first difficulty I encountered was in indentifying her qualifications. Her piece merely states that “Katherine Kersten is a Senior Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She is a regular contributor to the editorial pages of the Star Tribune, and served as a member of the Integration Revenue Replacement Advisory Task Force, whose recommendations were submitted to the Minnesota Legislature on February 15, 2012. Kersten authored a minority report.” Digging into the CAE website, I found a lenghier bio:

    Katherine Kersten, a writer and attorney, is an opinion columnist at the StarTribune, where she previously worked as Metro columnist. She was a founding director of the Center of the American Experiment, and was its chairman from 1996 to 1998. Katherine has written on cultural and policy issues for a variety of publications, including the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Christianity Today, Policy Review, American Enterprise, and First Things. For two years, she served as a regular commentator on National Public Radio. Katherine has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including those hosted by Hugh Hewitt and Laura Ingraham. She also has been featured on Fox News and MSNBC, among several television outlets. Katherine is, along with Mitch Pearlstein, the author of “Close to Home,” a collection of columns on a wide variety of public policy issues. The center has published several of her monographs on education. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Katherine holds a masters degree from Yale University and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

    OK, she’s a writer and professional thinker, with a masters degree in an unspecified area and a law degree which she may or may not have used to practice law. Her qualifications on the subject of education remain a mystery.

    The second difficulty I’ve encountered is her sources. While I’ve not broken down the numbers for each category, a disturbingly large percentage are mass market periodicals: Star Tribune, MinnPost, et al. Others include her own interviews of individuals, multiple websites, et al.

    As for the source of her arguments, she writes: [FN]135 The argument that follows is drawn, in part, from Lavorato and Spencer, “Back to the Future with Race-Based Mandates,” where a much more extensive analysis appears. Ibid., 1764-68.” The curious will find that entire article here:

    Cindy Lavorato is an Associate Professor at the University of St. Thomas and is Program Director of the Public Policy and Leadership Program in the School of Education. B.A. University of Iowa; J.D. University of Iowa. Professor Lavorato provided legal advice to the State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education during the redrafting of Minnesota’s current desegregation rule. Frank Spencer is a graduate of the Public Policy and Leadership Program at the University of St. Thomas. B.A. University of Minnesota; M.A. University of St. Thomas. Neither are described as having any education, training or experience in educational theory or practice.

    Readers can judge for themselves the extent to which Ms. Kersten has drawn on Lovorato’s and Spencer’s work.

    I will continue to read both Kersten’s work and that on which it appears to be based, paying more attention to the models they propose or point to with approval rather than their attacks on the article to which both respond: Margaret C. Hobday, Geneva Finn, & Myron Orfield, A Missed Opportunity: Minnesota’s Failed Experiment With Choice-Based Integration, 35 WM. MITCHELL L. REV. 936 (2009) That piece is available here:

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/27/2013 - 02:05 pm.

    I’d take heart

    in Pat Anderson’s conversion, if it were not for the nagging sense that it’s based more on political reality than personal conviction. Why? Perhaps because, as she wrote in the PPRess, “[m]any of the Republican legislators who voted to add that amendment did so against their better judgment and personal feelings on the issue[.]”

    Integrity is not a four letter, word, folks. Let’s see some.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 02/27/2013 - 02:43 pm.

      Perhaps, but . . .

      If Republicans vote for marriage equality, does it matter why? Doing the right thing for the wrong reason would still result in equality.

      • Submitted by James Hamilton on 02/27/2013 - 11:18 pm.

        It does

        to me. I expect elected representatives to run on and vote their beliefs, not the strength and direction of the political winds.

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