Minnesota high school graduation rates improve

REUTERS/Chip East

OK. Progress. Good. Stribbers Alejandra Matos and Jessica Lee write, “Minnesota high school graduation rates edged up last year, with steady gains in struggling metropolitan school districts and significant improvement among students of color. More than 81 percent of high school students graduated on time in 2014, compared to 79.8 percent the year before, according to the Minnesota Department of Education. Black students have made significant gains in graduation rates over the last five years, chipping away at a crucial aspect of the state’s yawning achievement gap between white and minority children. English learners, low income students and Hispanics all posted improved graduation rates.”

The PiPress has a handy-dandy interactive chart to check your school’s rate. Dan Bauman writes, “Any inconsistencies in the data, such as an unequal totals by race and gender, are the result of state reporting.”

Ditto the Strib, via CJ Sinner.

Quick. There must be a down-side here somewhere. In the PiPress David Montgomery says, “Minnesota’s already-low rate of people without health insurance fell even more over the past year, a survey from Gallup finds. At the beginning of 2014, just 9.5 percent of Minnesotans lacked health insurance, the fourth-best rate in the country. As of the start of 2015, that uninsured rate is now 7.4 percent, 2.1 percentage points lower.”

Tim Pugmire at MPR focuses on the “no strings” angle of the GOP’s $455 million education proposal. “Republicans in the Minnesota Senate say they want more money going to public schools with fewer strings attached. … Sen. Sean Nienow, R-Cambridge, described the plan as a ‘burst of funding’ for school districts, with no mandates on how to spend it. ‘If your school district wants to do pre-K, here’s the money. Go ahead and do it,’ Nienow said. ‘If it doesn’t make sense for your district, then spend it on more teachers. Spend it on whatever makes sense for your district.’” My district likes hockey.

Frankly, I’m stunned it took this long for someone to bring up the obvious solution. KMSP-TV’s Aaron Rupar writes, “In the wake of al-Shabaab’s threat against the Mall of America, one of the legislature’s staunchest pro-gun rights lawmakers is taking aim at the mall’s firearms policy. … Asked to expand on why he thinks banning guns in the mall’s common areas isn’t smart, Cornish says, ‘A terrorist pays no attention to signs.’ ‘A terrorist is going to come in and cause mass casualties and couldn’t care less if you have a petty misdemeanor violation of a sign,’ he continues. ‘It creates a kill zone of unarmed sheep for terrorists.’ … We asked Cornish if he supports open carrying in the mall. ‘I have always advised against the option of open carrying because it raises some people’s fears,’ he replies. ‘But if you go to Arizona, they’ve had [open carrying] for years, and nobody has a heart attack if they see someone with a .45 in the store. It’s a different culture here in Minnesota.’” So if you see anything or anyone strange at MOA, open fire and then call security.

Look to the sun, Grasshopper. Says David Brakke in the St. Cloud Times, “Solar energy has caused a surge in careers for Minnesotans, according to a report by The Solar Foundation. The foundation found that nearly 940 jobs were added to Minnesota’s solar industry last year, bringing the total to about 1,800 workers. The foundation also reported about 120 solar-related businesses operate in the state. St. Cloud Technical & Community College student Ryan Meyer has recently reached out to several of them. ‘I’ve applied to 10 different solar installation companies in the (Twin Cities) metropolitan area. They’re always looking for people,’ he said.”

Now the Gov’s in on it. At WCCO-TV Pat Kessler reports, “Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton added his name to a list of state lawmakers protesting the University of Minnesota-Duluth’s decision to terminate the contract of the women’s hockey coach. … Thirteen Democratic state senators joined Dayton in signing a letter questioning the reasoning behind the termination to University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler and UMD Chancellor Lendley Black.” Only Democrats? Is this a partisan thing?

To hell with the Blue Danube.  Kevin McGill of the AP says, “European river cruise giant Viking, already gaining a high profile in the United States with its sponsorship of popular PBS television shows, announced Tuesday that it will make New Orleans its first North American home port for Mississippi River cruises expected to begin by late 2017, with St. Paul being one of the destinations.”

I don’t know about you, but pretty much every morning I think, “Boy, I wish we had lower water pollution standards around here.” At MPR, Tom Scheck reports, “Minnesota Pollution Control Agency officials warned Tuesday that a bipartisan push at the Capitol to ease state water pollution standards could lead the federal government to assert control of water rules. In a bid to help U.S. Steel’s MinnTac plant in Mountain Iron, some lawmakers say they believe Minnesota’s sulfate standard designed to protect wild rice is too strict. They say mining companies, power companies and wastewater treatment plans would be forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to meet the standards. State Rep. Carly Melin, DFL-Hibbing, wants the MPCA to delay enforcing the standard until a scientific review is complete and the state identifies which lakes and streams grow wild rice.” We can get that review on the, uh, slow track, right?

Yeah, really. That thing is so-1950s. John Reinan and Tim Harlow at the Strib say, “A group of public officials on a chilly Tuesday made a heated call for state spending on Minnesota’s transportation network. Gathered on a highway bridge overlooking the interchange of I-35W and I-494, local and state leaders made their pitch in support of Gov. Mark Dayton’s 10-year, $6 billion spending plan. The site was chosen because the 35W/494 interchange recently was named one of the nation’s 20 worst highway bottlenecks by the Federal Highway Administration.”

Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/25/2015 - 07:03 am.

    Gatherings at the bridge

    Regarding the helpfulness of a bunch of politicians and the attendant reporters and cameras gathering on a bridge over one of the nation’s worst highway rush-hour bottlenecks: I can’t help but wonder what time of day they chose to stage this spectacle. Because if it was any time between 3 and 5 pm – well, I’m just sayin’ . . . . . . . .

  2. Submitted by Thomas Swift on 02/25/2015 - 07:46 am.

    Last year, the Democrat dominated legislature passed a law that effectively removed the need for students to pass a proficiency test to graduate, and Viola!, graduation rates rise.

    You do have to give them credit for consistency, though. The Democrats ensure teachers are measured by nothing more than time in the chair as well.

  3. Submitted by Pavel Yankovic on 02/25/2015 - 08:19 am.

    Viking Cruise

    I’m all for bringing outside $$$ into the state via tourism but what are the tourist attractions in St. Paul?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 02/25/2015 - 04:22 pm.

      It is not about the destination . . . . .

      It is not about the destination – it is about the journey, Grasshopper.

      At least that’s the way I’d see it if I was taking a cruise up a river.

  4. Submitted by Richard O on 02/25/2015 - 01:14 pm.

    “Spend it on whatever makes sense for your district.”

    Ok – let’s party!

    Really. If the money is available you and everyone else knows that it WILL be spent. Couldn’t Mr Nienow and his party at least provide some guidelines or expectations?

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