Lawsuit to be filed over Minnesota’s teacher tenure protections

For the Star Tribune, Alejandra Matos says, “Minnesota laws protect teachers who should no longer be in classrooms and prevent thousands of students from getting a high-quality education, claims a lawsuit to be filed Thursday by national and local education reform groups. The suit is only the third of its kind in the country and could reignite the battle over union protections for Minnesota teachers. … .”

In The New York Times’ story on the suit, Motoko Rich says, “The case is being supported by Partnership for Education Justice, a New York-based advocacy group that receives its primary funding from the foundations of the Walton family, the founders of Walmart, and the Los Angeles billionaire Eli Broad. Students for Education Reform, a group that also receives funding from the Broad and the Walton Family Foundations, is also backing the suit.”

Sam Mitchell is out as coach of the Timberwolves. Says Jerry Zgoda of the Strib, “A little more than an hour after the Timberwolves ended their season with Wednesday night’s resounding 144-109 victory over New Orleans at Target Center, they announced they will search for both a new head coach and new leader of their basketball operations. Interim coach Sam Mitchell will not return. General Manager Milt Newton will continue to work his expanded duties until the team decides upon a new leader(s), who will decide on Newton’s fate.”

The AP reports on the latest broadband battle at the Capitol: “House Republicans say funding Wi-Fi hotspots for students and leveraging federal grants for broadband Internet development are the best ways to reach underserved communities in Minnesota, but Democrats argue the plan doesn’t go far enough. A group of Republican lawmakers on Wednesday outlined a $35 million proposal for faster Internet in the state, including $7 million for school Internet grants and $28 million for rural broadband expansion. … Rep. Tim Mahoney, a St. Paul Democrat, called the plan ‘just smoke and mirrors.’ ‘How about we actually put investments into greater Minnesota … and quit trying to baffle them with malarkey,’ he said.”

Land of 10,00 food deserts. Jeremy Olson of the Strib reports, “A coalition of Minnesota economic and health leaders hope a new report showing that 1.6 million residents lack easy access to healthy food will motivate the 2016 Legislature to approve funding for mobile grocery stores and other fixes. Minnesota ranks 7th worst in the nation for the share of residents — about one third of its population — with no grocery options close to their homes … .”

In the PiPress, Christopher Magan writes, “The Stillwater district faces a third legal challenge of a plan to close three elementary schools, and the lawsuit alleges school leaders held secret meetings and failed to disclose conflicts of interests. A group called 834 VOICE, or Voters Invested in Our Children’s Education, that is opposed to school board members’ decision to close Withrow, Marine and Oak Park elementary schools filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Washington County District Court.”

Also in the PiPress, David Montgomery says, “U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison isn’t backing down in the face of a death threat from the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Ellison, a Minneapolis Democrat who was the first Muslim elected to Congress, was threatened in ISIS’s official English-language magazine, Dabiq, as a ‘politically active apostate.’”

Banks fail test. Also from the Strib, Adam Belz writes, “Federal regulators on Wednesday told five banks, including Wells Fargo, to come up with a better plan for their own fast, orderly bankruptcy that won’t sink the financial system or require a government bailout. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and Federal Reserve Board said the resolution plans — known as ‘living wills’ — submitted by five of the nation’s eight systemically important banks were ‘not credible.’”

On Zika, Leah Beno at KMSP-TV says, “The Center of Disease Control (CDC) confirmed Wednesday that the Zika virus is causing babies to be born with small heads and other severe brain defects. But officials in Minnesota are reiterating that the risk in Minnesota is low. There’s been some confusion about whether the mosquitos carrying the disease could ever end up in Minnesota. Based on a map put out by the CDC earlier this week, part of Minnesota is in the danger zone. But a few different local officials say the map is misleading.”

At MPR, Doualy Xaykaothao says, “A woman who says she was attacked for speaking a foreign language at a Coon Rapids Applebee’s wants to make hate crimes a felony in Minnesota. … On Wednesday, Jama fought back emotions as she told a Minneapolis forum on Islamophobia about her struggles since the attack. She urged lawmakers to get tougher on hate crime.”

The AP says, “Hormel plans to tweak the ingredients in some of its canned meat products, including two varieties of Spam. The company said Wednesday the changes will be made to Spam Lite and Spam Less Sodium by the end of the year. Tweaks will also be made to its Hormel chili products and Dinty Moore beef stew.”

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 04/14/2016 - 06:56 am.

    The attack on the teacher’s union…

    has nothing to do with education and all to do with destroying unions. If those billionaires cared about the education of poor kids they’d find a way to attack poverty and underfunded schools. Like most republican ideas it is bad idea hidden behind a lie. Sam Walton, great lover of unions and a livable wage.

    • Submitted by Allan Sharper on 04/14/2016 - 09:31 am.

      “Billionaires” attack plan

      • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 04/14/2016 - 09:50 am.

        Uber Heros

        I’m not sure why we would give any deference to billionaire CEOs in the arena of public education. Why might they have special insight that the rest of us lack is a mystery to me. Their primary motivation seems to be inflating the value of and exercising their stock options. Given that their failure is rewarded with golden parachutes, they inhabit a “heads I win tails you lose world.” Nice work if you can get it, but it bears little resemblance to the real world the rest of us wake up to every day.

        Union busting is not the only thing at work here. CEOs and venture capitalists and the like have long dreamed of re-directing the stream of tax payer dollars now going to public schools into private pockets. Think about this in terms of water utilities, municipal electric utilities, and other publicly owned assets. Auction them off at fire sale prices to the highest private bidder. This is how Chicago ended up with the parking meter fiasco a few years back.

        To suggest that CEOs are merely white knights riding in to save those of us with feet of clay is naive at best, and disingenuous at worst.

        • Submitted by Allan Sharper on 04/14/2016 - 10:59 am.

          Hedge Fund

          managers are not “CEO’s” in the traditional sense of running companies or industrial businesses. They are investment managers. The hedge fund model does not provide for “golden parachutes” for dismissal….Investors simply pull their money from the fund if they are not happy with a manager’s performance… can’t charge fees if you don’t have any investors.. These guys became massively rich by making alot of money for their investors….and guess what, some of the biggest investors in the hedge fund space are public employee pension funds (Texas State Teachers pension invests 10% of its assets in hedge funds, Ohio School Pension 15%). Why would public pension plans, with unionized plan participants invest with those that have “….long dreamed of re-directing the stream of tax payer dollars now going to public schools into private pockets”??

          Would you prefer these wealthy hedge fund managers just buy more yachts and mansions as opposed to contributing to a charter school system in its 10th year with 10x the demand for admission? Hmmm……God forbid anyone challenges or experiments in ways to improve our educational system without the sanctified blessing of the Union heads…..because we all know Unions are well managed and non-corruptible….Maybe we all need to put down our mis conceptions of each other and just take a look and see if they may be onto something in NYC with this??

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 04/14/2016 - 12:27 pm.

            What I Would Prefer

            I would prefer that wealthy hedge fund managers find better ways to spend their time and money than attacking teachers’ unions (and, unionization and collective bargaining in general). If they truly want to do something about education in America, they could devote their resources to alleviating poverty, the real cause of poor educational attainment.

            I would also prefer that they not perpetuate the scam of privatizing public goods,like education. Charter schools are major profit centers, but in the end, they are a scam that depends on gullible parents and policy makers.

  2. Submitted by Brian Scholin on 04/14/2016 - 10:41 am.

    Teacher Tenure

    As a long-time teacher and union member, I can honestly say that NO ONE dislikes the fact that a few bad teachers remain in the business as much as other teachers and teachers’ unions. In fact, I never met a good teacher who wanted to retain a bad teacher.

    It is the unions’ responsibility to protect the rights of those members, but it is the responsibility of administration to move them out of the profession in a legal, non-discriminatory, way, if improvement steps have failed. In a well-functioning district, this often happens through cooperation between the administration and the union.

    In my career, it was far more common that someone remained past their expiry date due to inaction by administrators – sometimes in spite of prodding by union reps – than by resistance from the union.

    And so, I find it ironic that the highest-paid members of the education community and society are both the biggest complainers and the biggest cause of the problem.

  3. Submitted by Ken Wedding on 04/14/2016 - 11:04 am.

    attacking tenure

    The anti-union, anti-tenure forces are full of sound and fury about the evils of both, but when was the last time you heard any concrete evidence from them.

    Who was the unfit teacher who wasn’t fired? What evidence was there of the teacher’s non-performance? What were the results of principals’ or colleagues’ evaluations? Was there something besides personal dislike or perception of unfair treatment of “my kid” involved?

    What “under-performing” school was staffed with veteran incompetent teachers? And what, besides “under-performance” was the evidence for the teachers’ incompetence?

    And what evidence demonstrates that the least tenured, least experienced, youngest teachers are more competent than teachers who have been around longer?

    Assertions are not evidence.

  4. Submitted by James Hamilton on 04/14/2016 - 01:18 pm.

    Bad link

    The purported link to the NYT article on the education lawsuit takes readers to the Strib article.

  5. Submitted by Andrew Kearney on 04/14/2016 - 11:05 pm.


    As a subscriber to the NY Times and the Strib (and MNPOST) I found it curious that the Strib article reported that the group behind the lawsuits identified Campbell Brown and her group as the sponsors of this suit. The NYT identifies the Walton’s etc. It was like two different realities. But I wondered if I have made a mistake all these years subscribing to the Strib to get Minnesota news. It seems like I get the more complete story about Minnesota by reading a New York paper.

  6. Submitted by Mike martin on 04/14/2016 - 11:56 pm.

    Iowa Teachers don’t have Tenure and Iowa schools seem to be doing just fine.

    Its a myth that K-12 teachers need tenure.

    The head of the teachers union make over $180,000/ year which is more than most school administrators

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