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Education-policy resources that you really should bookmark

Today Learning Curve takes a break from providing original content to point the policy freaks among you out there to a couple of resources you really ought to know about if you don’t already.

The first, Parents United for Public Schools’ website, I want to highlight because it’s a terrific resource for anyone hoping to keep tabs on education-related news from the Legislature and other policymaking entities in Minnesota. An 8-year-old nonprofit founded by concerned parents from 20 different school districts, Parents United aggregates local education news but also curates the best collection of links and blurbs and other assorted items of interest to those of you who want to see firsthand the actual nuts and bolts.

Right now, in addition to a roundup of news stories from all over the state, visitors to the group’s site will find three separate resources regarding the impending state shutdown, PDFs of correspondence between the governor and others concerning the legislative impasse and shutdown and worksheets detailing the expected impact of cuts on individual districts.

Since 2003, Parents United has been a continual presence at the Legislature, working to preserve state funding for public schools. Its five-person staff has become a kind of hive mind for those of us who have kids in schools, fear for their future but, faced with a spreadsheet or a conference committee report, have a hard time answering the question: What does this mean for us?

One of my favorite parts of the site: The Myth v Reality page, which vets think tanks, debunks bankrupt popular lore and in general performs as a kind of Snopes for the education community.

If you go there, you may notice a link to another website you might want to bookmark for reference going forward. For my money, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Minnesota Budget Project is the go-to source for figuring out what impact the big numbers being tossed around (or not) at the Capitol actually mean.

Consider, for instance, this useful comparison of Gov. Mark Dayton’s proposed K-12 budget and the one passed by the Legislature. Bullet points lay out — in possibly the most politically neutral language I’ve seen during this opinionated, heated season — areas of agreement as well as what’s distinct about each proposal. Check it out and decide for yourself who, if anyone, is in fact refusing to compromise.

(Major geek points if you look at the names of the authors, Christina Wessel and Scott Russell, and recognize the latter as the byline that topped MinnPost’s nonprofit community coverage in bygone days.)

Lastly, just because it’s compelling and worth passing along but doesn’t fit anywhere else, here’s a video clip of economist Art Rolnick, formerly of the Federal Reserve Bank in Minneapolis and now at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs, answering Sen. Al Franken’s questions about the economic value of early childhood education.

(Double major geek points if you recognize Rolnick as the chap who donned a tuxedo and, with his wife Cheri, danced a wicked tango at last April’s MinnRoast.)

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