It’s always “union rules.” Says Christopher Magan in the PiPress on the latest complaints about teacher shortages, “Minnesota faces a growing shortage of teachers in key specialties, and educators and policymakers are divided over how to attract and retain qualified teachers. Administrators argue that Minnesota’s strict licensing requirements and union rules make it difficult to attract and retain highly effective and diverse teachers. Teachers union leaders say that state law already gives schools flexibility and that the rules Minnesota has now ensure students get the best teachers possible.”
Speaking of teachers, here’s Pat Kessler’s report for WCCO-TV on that advancing seniority bill. “Minnesota lawmakers are preparing to vote this week on a top Republican priority that could affect every school in the state. The bill would allow school districts to lay off ineffective teachers even if they have union seniority and classroom tenure. Staff reductions hit Minnesota schools hard during the last few years of recession. Now, a plan at the capitol would turn layoff rules upside down and make teachers with seniority as susceptible to layoffs as rookies.” The pieces do seem to fit together, don’t they?
Former revenue commissioner John James has a “two step” idea for transportation funding. In a Strib commentary he says, “Minnesota’s transportation funding mechanism, the gas tax dedicated to road funding, no longer suffices to meet the state’s transportation needs. Minnesota needs more investment in transportation now, and a long-term solution. Dayton is right that just spending some of the surplus on transportation would not solve the long-term problem. Daudt is right that the increased gas tax should get no further consideration, and that general fund revenues should help fund transportation.”
Speaking of: David Montgomery and Rachel Stassen-Berger of the PiPress say, “The projects in Gov. Mark Dayton’s $6 billion road and bridge plan would cost as little as $40,000 — or as much as $482 million, new numbers released Monday show. The list of 600-plus projects was released two weeks ago, but the Minnesota Department of Transportation didn’t say how much each one might cost until Monday. … On tap for metro roads: $500 million or more in new pavement and bridges on Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, and another $500 million or more for new MnPASS lanes on Interstate 494, Interstate 35W, U.S. Highway 169 and Minnesota Highway 36.”
Sciencemag.org returns to the U of M’s Dan Markingson case. Jennifer Couzion-Frankel says, “A damning report on how the University of Minnesota (UM) protects volunteers in its clinical trials concludes that researchers inadequately reviewed research studies across the university and need more training to better protect the most vulnerable subjects. It also found that a “climate of fear” existed in the Department of Psychiatry, where concerns about clinical trials first surfaced. The 97-page report, released 27 February, was prepared by a group of six experts appointed by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs. It comes after years of complaints by some UM faculty members, led by bioethicist Carl Elliott. They charged that the school and its doctors failed to protect 27-year-old Dan Markingson, who died by suicide while enrolled in a psychiatric drug trial in 2004. They also expressed grave concerns about how Markingson’s death was investigated.”
This is good news. In the Strib, Dave Chanen writes, “Minnesota’s specialty drug courts continue to significantly reduce recidivism and lower incarceration and related costs for drug court participants, according to a study released Monday by the state’s judicial branch. … among those offenders who reached four years of “at-risk time” during the evaluation, 28 of drug court participants had received a new conviction, compared to 41 percent of non-drug court participants.”
The AP’s Steve Karnowski on the latest in the Victor Barnard story: “A former member of a small religious sect said Monday that the woman arrested with its leader in Brazil was part of the group back when it was based in east-central Minnesota. … former River Road Fellowship member Jeff Sjolander of Duluth, who welcomed Barnard’s arrest, recognized her name and told The Associated Press that she had been one of the ‘maidens’ in Finlayson, so he wasn’t surprised that she was with Barnard in Brazil. The woman had been going to school in the Minneapolis area ‘when she fell in with the group, ended up moving to Finlayson and became a maiden with Barnard,’ Sjolander said.”
Franken will snub Bibi. MPR’s Brett Neely reports, “Franken says he won’t attend a speech before a joint session of Congress by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday. ‘This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle, both because of the impending Israeli election and because it was done without consulting the administration,’ said Franken in a statement issued by his office. ‘I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening.”
Hang tough, kids. City Pages’ Cory Zurowski reports, “ … it was no surprise that, last year, Corinthian Colleges Inc., Everest’s parent company, was forced to shutter many of its schools, including its only Minnesota location in Eagan, under the weight of state and federal probes alleging it cheated students by lying to them about job placement and graduation rates. Now a group of students has launched ‘a debt strike.’ They’re vowing not to repay any student loans they took out to attend Corinthian’s schools. … [Cong. John] Kline, the chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has netted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from for-profit colleges. So it’s perhaps no coincidence that he authored the grandly titled Supporting Academic Freedom through Regulatory Relief Act, which ensured that the government couldn’t crack down on wretched schools, no matter how poorly they performed. It blocked the feds from forcing colleges — like Corinthian’s Everest Institute in Eagan — to disclose graduation rates and median student debt-loads.”
A couple Adrian Peterson notes. At SportsGrid.com Eric Goldschein says, “If it wasn’t painfully obvious when his agent almost came to blows with team officials at the NFL combine, Adrian Peterson’s time in Minnesota is all but officially over. A report from Vikings beat writer Arif Hasan says that the team is trying to offload Peterson ‘any way they can’ despite publicly declaring otherwise. … While Hasan wasn’t able to get a sense of which teams wanted AP, and how badly, we do know that Adrian Peterson’s father, Nelson, brought up a few possibilities last week. (‘I’ve heard rumors, Arizona,’ Peterson’s father said. ‘I’ve also heard the rumors of Indianapolis and the Colts, going there with a quarterback the caliber of (Andrew) Luck. I’ve also heard the Cowboys, coming back home with the Cowboys, behind that offensive line that they have’).”
Then there’s Ben Goessling at ESPN writing, “Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said Monday that the team has had ‘open dialogue’ with Peterson since Thursday. Spielman would not elaborate on the Vikings’ conversations with Peterson, but said again the team wants him back next season.” I’ve got my money on the first story.