Nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism. Supported by readers.


Hundreds of Minnesota schools struggle to close achievement gap

Not making progress. Says Alejandra Matos in the Star Tribune, “Hundreds of school districts in the state are not making significant progress in closing achievement gaps, including the state’s largest urban districts, Minneapolis and St. Paul. All Minnesota school districts and charter schools are required to improve reading and math test scores, boost graduation rates and cut achievement gaps for all students … But in its first progress report, the Minnesota Department of Education says that many are not meeting their targets.”

On the fight over $15 million relating to the Vikings’ stadium construction, Tim Nelson of MPR says, “The financial dispute over cost overruns at the Minnesota Vikings stadium is nearing a settlement. Mediation with Mortenson Construction, the company building the new stadium, has been successful, according to Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority Chair Michele Kelm-Helgen. ‘We’re getting very close. We aren’t quite there yet,’ Helgen said. ‘We are hoping to have something to vote on at our Friday board meeting.'”

A touch of Minnesota in Bolivia. Jean Hopfensperger of the Strib says, “In a remote farm community nestled in the Bolivian mountains, a Catholic university has taken root thanks to Minnesota supporters 4,500 miles away. … Most graduates of the college, in the town of Carmen Pampa, return to their rural communities with much-needed skills. The academy was named one of the world’s top models for eradicating poverty by a United Nations subcommittee examining anti-poverty strategies.”

The latest on the moose: Not good. Dan Kraker’s MPR story says, “Northeastern Minnesota’s struggling moose population remains low, although the rate of decline has eased. That’s the conclusion of state conservation officials after examining data from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources aerial survey of moose in early January. Survey results indicate the number of moose rose to 4,020 in 2016 from an estimated 3,450 in 2015, a change that is statistically insignificant, the DNR said. Northeastern Minnesota’s current moose population could be as high as 5,180 or as low as 3,230, the agency added. ‘Moose are not recovering in northeastern Minnesota,’ Glenn DelGiudice, moose project leader for the DNR, said in a statement.”

This is a new one for me. Peter Cox at MPR says, “A woman who died in a busy Plymouth intersection during an apparent domestic incident died of ‘complex homicidal violence,’ the coroner said Tuesday. Trisha Lynn Nelson, 28, of Plymouth died at the intersection of Rockford Road and Northwest Boulevard just after 10 p.m. Friday night. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner later added that Nelson had ‘multiple gunshot wounds and sharp force injuries.'”

Nor had I heard of this. In the Duluth News Tribune, John Lundy reports, “One is a competitive dancer; another plays hockey. There’s an actress and a swimmer. All four are high-achieving freshmen or sophomores at Denfeld High School. And each was waylaid for months by a little-understood medical condition that sapped their strength and took them out of activities and school before it was even diagnosed. … It’s called POTS, an acronym for postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, and it’s characterized by a sharp drop in blood pressure and rise in heart rate when the individual stands from a sitting or lying position.”

Klobuchar may not get the appointment. But she says she plans to have a role in the fight. Says Patrick Condon in the Strib, “Sen. Amy Klobuchar said Tuesday she’s not expecting a U.S. Supreme Court appointment but does intend to be a loud voice defending President Obama’s prerogative to fill the vacancy. … ‘At some point you have an obligation to our democracy and our history,’ Klobuchar said.”

Tom Cherveny for the Forum News Service says, “CCA has been marketing the private prison [in Appleton, MN] to jurisdictions since its closing, but without success. Now, it’s hoping the state of Minnesota will be interested in leasing the prison and return state inmates to the facility. Gov. Mark Dayton has not included funding for the Appleton facility in his bonding proposal for the upcoming legislative session, and has made known his preference to reduce the number of inmates. Nonetheless, a Swift County task force and area legislators believe the Appleton prison could help address the state’s prison needs, and will be urging the state to lease the facility.”

This is unexpected. J. Patrick Coolican of the Strib reports, “About 95,000 Minnesota college students will receive an average $200 extra in direct financial aid this year, state officials said Tuesday. The surplus in the state’s grant program is due to an increase in federal money and lower-than-expected enrollment.”

Chickens and reptiles in Minneapolis. Mini-pigs in Eagan. Tory Cooney of the PiPress says, “The Eagan City Council planned to ask city staff at its 6:30 p.m. meeting today to prepare an ordinance allowing residents to keep miniature pigs in their homes and back yards. The proposal follows a request by a city resident Jan. 5 during a listening session and a presentation to the council during a work session Feb. 9. According to a report to the council, a survey of 19 metro Twin Cities communities found eight allowed residents to keep pigs.” In Edina we refer to them as “cochon.”

Maybe this explains why the Wild are so bad. Stribber David Peterson writes, “Back in 1990, there were 10 groups of ice arena users — leagues, youth associations and the like — on St. Paul’s East Side; now there is one. … Given those stark facts Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board is expected in coming months to devise a plan that, if trends continue, could end up closing one or more of the county’s 11 arenas.” Back in my day we played on the river … until July.

Well, she’s wearing more than Kevin Love did in his photo shoot. Marino Eccher of the PiPress alerts us to Lindsey Vonn … in the paint. “World champion skier Lindsey Vonn, more often found in warmer attire, posed in nothing but body paint for the “Sports Illustrated” swimsuit issue.” 

Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by rolf westgard on 02/17/2016 - 06:51 am.

    Achievement gap

    Quit blaming the schools. It’s the single parent homes in which these children of color are raised. The working mothers don’t have time to read to the children. English not well spoken, few books, let alone computers. We need the strong preschool program that Gov Dayton is advocating.

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/17/2016 - 07:27 am.

    complex homicidal violence

    I was at this event. The killer was chasing her around the intersection in his vehicle shooting many shots. Finally she ran for it up off the pavement onto some snow-covered grass. While continuing to shoot he ran her down going 30-40 miles an hour (my guess). I saw that. Finally the police are admitting that what I saw and what some of the other people who were there saw. She may have been shot, probably was, but the final blow was him running into her from behind as she fled. That is what they mean by complex homicidal violence.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg since 2011 on 02/17/2016 - 10:19 am.


      That had to have had some impact on you as well being present while all this was happening.

      Not sure what I’m saying here, other than to acknowledge that and offer you some empathy as you deal with what you saw and were so close to.

      • Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 02/17/2016 - 11:02 am.

        Thank you, Pat

        I got involved with the media (Star, MPR, KSTP) because the original facts reported were so wrong. Finally today they admit she wasn’t just shot. It was the worst thing I have ever seen. There were maybe 8 or so witnesses I think. At one point Trisha Nelson was at the passenger window of the car next to me apparently begging for help. When that person didn’t open her door, Trisha ran across the street as he came around to make another pass at her shooting. Seconds later she was dead. I feel terrible for the person in that car. She did absolutely the right thing not helping. He probably would have rammed her car and then started shooting into that car and who knows where that could have gone. But that person must feel extreme guilt about that. When the light finally turned green and the killer was gone she sped away while the rest of us sat there stunned. I wish I could talk to her and comfort her somehow.

        Because one of his bullets took out one of my tires on my AWG I was required to get four new tires. My insurance company would like to go after his liability insurance (which is the only way I’ll get a partial reimbursement) but the police have been very uncooperative in spite of all the phony concerned words the chief was mouthing at his press conference.

  3. Submitted by Greg Kapphahn on 02/17/2016 - 07:33 am.

    The Achievement Gap

    Excepting small charter schools and private schools where very motivated parents,…

    staff willing and able to work for practically nothing,…

    and equally motivated volunteers,…

    circumstances which absolutely cannot be duplicated (or “upscaled” as folk love to say),…

    on a system-wide basis in a large school district,…

    has anyone, anywhere devised a way of “closing the achievement gap” in a metropolitan area as deeply segregated,…

    especially in terms of economic conditions, family circumstances, and date of arrival in the U.S.,…

    as the Twin Cities metro area is?

    Is doing so even a reasonable expectation?

    Was this EVER achieved in the past,…

    for instance when large numbers of rural black folk moved to northern cities after the Civil War,…

    was there a magical way that those youngsters were brought up to speed?

    Or did time and the improving economic circumstances of each generation bring children up to speed so that they were ABLE to function better in school?

    Just setting up goals that school systems are expected to meet,…

    WITHOUT providing the wherewithal in terms of money, staffing levels, functional buildings, and interpersonal support,…

    needed to compensate for the outside-the-school, life circumstances faced by far too many students in our seven-county metro area, especially the inner city,…

    represents nothing but magical thinking.

    Hiring Albus Dumbledore as superintendent is not going to make up for the lack of needed resources (and I don’t think he’s available).

    From what I can see, anyone who even mentions the “achievement gap” without, in the same breath, proposing the levels of spending needed to address that gap,…

    is guilty of pursuing some OTHER agenda which has nothing to do with caring about the well being of students and families suffering from the effects of that gap.

    Such leaders and “experts” who would use our school kids to pursue their own desire,…

    to punish the poor, especially people of color,,..

    dismantle teacher’s unions (because they reflexively hate ALL worker organizations),…

    and/or make massive profits by privatizing our PUBLIC schools,…

    are guilty of extreme demagoguery and should be dismissed for the charlatans they are.

    The first question each and every one of them should be asked is,…

    how much are you willing to spend WITHIN the current public school system,…

    (which worked very well in the past until we started starving it of resources)

    to address this problem?

    If the answer is zero, they should be told to sit down and shut up,…

    because they’re using the “achievement gap” as a smokescreen,…

    to obscure their racism,,,,

    and their refusal to pay the taxes needed to support a civilized society.

    • Submitted by Robert Owen on 02/17/2016 - 10:55 am.

      text format

      Greg, why do you put ellipses and paragraph breaks in the middle of all your sentences? It’s distracting.

      • Submitted by Bill Gleason on 02/17/2016 - 11:49 am.

        I have to agree, Greg …

        Although I am in agreement with almost all of what you say, your writing makes it hard for me to read your entire posts.

        Perhaps you have a good reason for writing this way?

        Otherwise, please consider polite suggestions to consider other methods.

        Best regards.

Leave a Reply