With a few exceptions, Minnesota governor’s race shows stark differences on education

classroom
MinnPost file photo by Bill Kelley
Both the DFL and Republican nominees for governor have called for simplifying the school funding formula.

Tim Walz and Jeff Johnson, whose campaigns for governor of Minnesota have so far been marked by how much they disagree, actually agree on a few things where Minnesota education is concerned.

Both the DFL and Republican nominees for governor have called for simplifying the school funding formula, and both want to provide more technical and vocational options for high school graduates who don’t want to pursue four-year college degrees.

Walz’s quip is that the formula should be such that “you don’t need a doctorate to understand how we fund our children’s education.

“It makes it difficult not only for our school officials, it makes it difficult for our parents, for our taxpayers to understand exactly what we pay for how it works,” Walz said during an August press conference unveiling his education positions.

And Johnson uses his son Rolf to illustrate what he calls an attitude issue about education and achievement. Rolf is in high school and making the decision about what to do next — four-year college or something else — Johnson said at a Mankato forum earlier in the campaign.

“But there are people in our community, if he chooses something else, they are going to feel sorry for me … which makes me so sad because we should be so proud of these kids who make the right choice for them and help fill the need in our state right now for skilled workers.”

But beyond these issues, the Republican Johnson and the DFL-nominee Walz take vastly different approaches to education in the state. Johnson said he wants to change the mindset in St. Paul that more money is the answer to problems in schools and instead look to ways to alter the status quo. Walz said he wants to make sure school funding keeps up with inflation and that levy and capital construction funds are fair. The 20-year teacher also talks about making sure students have the food and shelter and health care that will put them in a position to learn.

Both candidates have children in public schools, Walz in Mankato and Johnson in Wayzata.

Johnson on teacher pay

Johnson’s agenda is more likely to rankle the education community with his support for linking teacher pay and promotion with performance appraisals. He also has said he would look at vouchers to let parents choose private options and wants a “parent trigger” that could be pulled to force changes in low-performing schools.

Johnson, a former state legislator and current Hennepin County commissioner, includes in his platform a “first fifty days” action plan with a separate section on education. He pledges to appoint a school finance commission to “throw every state mandate and regulation in place today out the window” and decide on a dollars-per-student amount with some additional money for schools with unique needs.

Jeff Johnson
MinnPost file photo by Peter Callaghan
Jeff Johnson pledges to appoint a school finance commission to “throw every state mandate and regulation in place today out the window.”
Johnson said that a different pay and promotion system would encourage new teachers to enter a profession “where tenure is forgone in exchange for annual performance reviews with no limitation placed on how big a raise they can get or how quickly they can blow past the highest paid teachers in the current current, antiquated steps and lanes system.”

Johnson also endorses school choice programs in addition to charter schools, including vouchers and tax credits that could be used to pay private school tuition and a “parent trigger” that would allow a majority of parents in a school to force significant changes, including replacing administrators and shifting to a charter school model.

And Johnson wants to reform the state board of teaching to require it to consider teachers trained in other states and those with backgrounds outside the education system.

Walz on school funding

Walz’s education plan will likely gain support in the state schools community, not a shock given that he is a 20-year public school teacher with the enthusiastic support of Education Minnesota. Walz, a member of Congress from Mankato since 2007, starts with school funding, making the case for what he terms “an honest conversation” about what it costs to educate students for a “global economy.”

“We oftentimes ask the wrong question; we ask what does it cost? The question is what does it cost not to.” Walz said. He proposed starting with the education outcomes that are desired and working back from there to arrive at the cost. He said the Legislature should include inflationary increases in each year’s budget. Walz also wants changes in levy assistance programs for property-poor districts that cannot get as much from property taxes as wealthier districts.

On that point, Walz frequently talks about funding adequacy not being dependent on ZIP code. In rural districts, “we have a bond referendum to repair a leaky roof versus domed stadiums with turf fields (in the suburbs).” Walz also calls for reductions in average class sizes so as to “make sure every students gets the attention and has the relationships that they need to be a successful learner.” But when pressed Walz isn’t specific as to what is his target for a student-teacher ratio.

Tim Walz
MinnPost file photo by Craig Lassig
Tim Walz's education plan emphasizes the connection between education and social programs.
“It depends on how much support staff is there, it depends on how much we’ve been able to use full-service community schools,” Walz said.

Walz education plan also emphasizes the connection between education and social programs.

“Kids don’t come in pieces,” Walz said. “If a child comes to school hungry, they’re not going to learn. If a child doesn’t see a dentist, they’re not going to learn. A child that comes out of a home with trauma, they’re not going to learn. Those things need to be there.”

Stark differences on achievement gap

At the MPR state fair debate, the candidates were asked about their ideas for dealing with an achievement gap between white students and students of color. Again, the question revealed stark differences.

“We have had one of the worst racial achievement gaps in the country for the last 50 years and we have been wringing our hands about it and saying it’s a horrible thing and spending a lot of money on it and nothing is changing,” Johnson said. “It’s clearly not just spending more money because we’ve been doing that and it’s not working.”

Johnson returned to his school reform proposals by saying parents of students of color need to have more power to demand improvements or take their students to other schools.

Walz said during his education press conference that “we know that the opportunity gap among communities of color shrinks when we have more diversity in our curriculum. We need to be make sure that we’re culturally competent with teachers that stand in front of these students. We need to make sure they see teachers who look and sound and understand them at a very early age.”

And during the state fair debate, Walz said that health and human services budgets that Johnson has said need to be trimmed will “exacerbate the gap rather than closing it.”

The debate over education between Walz and Johnson also feeds into more central campaign themes. Walz speaks about investments and that “you get what you pay for,” while Johnson criticizes him for overpromising and committing the state to spending that will require tax hikes.

“You are the greatest feel-good candidate I have ever seen,” Johnson said of Walz during the MPR debate at the state fair. “You’re good at it.”

Walz, in turn, pounces with allegations that the budget cuts that would result from Johnson’s proposed budget and tax reductions would harm education, health care and social services. While Walz and DFLers had been expecting to use recession-era budget cuts made by former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, they have now pivoted to tying them to Johnson because he voted for those budgets while in the state House.

“I experienced those cuts and those decisions firsthand. I understand what it did and how it damaged our education system,” Walz said during a press conference on his education plan in August. “And we are quite honestly still trying to recover from those decisions.”

School safety

The two candidates differ on how to make students and staff safer from school shootings and other attacks, differences that spill over into their disagreements on guns and gun control. Walz has seen his grade from the NRA fall from an A to an F as he has supported measures such as bans of bump stocks, background checks before gun sales and red flag warnings for dangerous people that would allow courts to remove guns from their possession.

Walz said his change of mind is the result of changes in society and the hardening of the stance of the NRA. Johnson accuses him of changing his position as he moved from a less-liberal 1st Congressional District to a more-liberal statewide DFL base.

Johnson said he supports allowing districts to arm teachers who are qualified to handle weapons and wants more money to upgrade safety and security. But he said he doesn’t support additional gun control measures and said the increase in school violence is due to other factors.

“I believe we have a cultural issue that we are afraid to talk about in this country,” Johnson said at the state fair. Sometime in the 1990s, “something happened to at least a few of the young men and boys in our society and now (school violence) is becoming more and more prevalent.” He cites family breakdown, mental health issues, pop culture and school discipline changes as potential reasons and said society needs to have these difficult conversations.

“We never talk about those things because the answer is always, let’s ban bump stocks, maybe that will prevent the next school shooting and it won’t,” Johnson said.

Reducing access to guns is needed, Walz said, and he said he isn’t willing to stop trying to solve the problem just because some, like Johnson, say it won’t work.

“I don’t disagree that there’s a whole spectrum of issues, but to leave the gun piece out is leaving out a key component,” Walz said. And he rejected calls to arm teachers.

“I was both a soldier and a teacher, and hardening the perimeter is something I did in the military,” said Walz, a 24-year member of the National Guard. “It isn’t something I want to do in schools. As a parent and teacher, arming teachers is not the right way to go.”

Comments (29)

  1. Submitted by Karen Sandness on 09/07/2018 - 11:32 am.

    A couple of points:

    1. The level of achievement in any given school district correlates quite strongly with the affluence and educational levels of the parents in the district, because in an affluent and/or well-educated district, the parents ride herd on the school board to ensure that their children receive a good education. College towns tend to have excellent schools, even if the town as a whole is not particularly affluent, because the parents understand what their children need and vote and lobby to make sure that it happens.

    2. There are dangers in abolishing tenure and instituting merit pay. A teacher who is doing just fine may be penalized for flunking a football player or disciplining a student who is the child of a prominent citizen or teaching something that offends the local Puritans or ideologues.

    A mediocre teacher who buddies up to the school board can get merit pay.

    One of my acquaintances at a state college in another state was threatened with firing for flunking a football player in a place where football was the REAL religion of the populace. Fortunately, she had tenure, and they couldn’t touch her, despite a widespread signature campaign.

    On the other hand, I know of a non-tenured high school teacher who was let go for being “too rigorous.” The average students cheered when he left, but the “A” students were unhappy and said, “They fired the best teacher in the school.”

    If a teacher is really inept, that ineptness will show up in the first three years. If it shows up later, that’s a sign of burnout, and a change of duties may be in order, or the teacher may leave the profession of his/her own accord.

    3. Local control of schools is almost an article of faith in the U.S., but it actually hinders equality of opportunity. Property taxes both depend on the affluence and financial health of the district and create resentment among people on fixed incomes. School boards can be made up of personally popular but uninformed local citizens who want to push their own agendas (cut art and music to pay for upgraded sports facilities, equal time for Creationism, no talking about the bad things in American history) instead of providing a well-rounded education.

    The countries that outdo all but the most affluent American districts in international comparisons all have standardized curricula, control on at least the state/province level, if not on the national level, and unionized teachers.

    4. The right wing likes to blame teachers’ unions for the problems in American schools, but like those who say that “gay marriage will harm straight marriage,” they fail to explain the mechanism by which this occurs.

    No teacher wants to be saddled with inept colleagues, but the unions merely ask that bad teachers be fired through due process, not that bad teachers be kept forever. The myth that all public schools are full of bad teachers is just that, a myth.

    As one teacher remarked in an article I read years ago, “I was a ‘bad teacher’ when my students in the South Bronx did poorly, but I suddenly became a ‘good teacher’ with high-achieving students in [the affluent suburb of] Bronxville.”

    5. I wonder how many of those smart-mouth, teacher-bashing politicians would survive in front of a real-life classroom. Teaching is a lot harder than it looks, and knowing from experience that college teaching is harder than it appears on the surface, even dealing with just the upper 1/3 of students, I have great admiration for high school and middle school teachers who work with 150 students each day, students of all levels of ability and motivation.

    Before criticizing American education, a politician should shadow an actual public school teacher, seeing how hard s/he works, and then try his hand at teaching a few classes. (I suggest starting with seventh graders. Heh-heh.)

    With Johnson, I see typical right-wing talking points. With Walz, I see someone who has actually stood in front of a classroom and dealt with real students with their gifts and liabilities.

  2. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 09/07/2018 - 11:59 am.

    I’ve posted before that the VAST MAJORITY of WORST K-12 educational systems and poverty are located in repub states.
    The other day, another study came out that rated all 50 states, with the WORST TEN being repub states.
    https://247wallst.com/special-report/2016/09/16/americas-most-and-least-educated-states-a-survey-of-all-50/11/

    Don’t let the repubs in control. They do nothing for education, for affordable healthcare, livable wages…just their wealthy benefactors.
    And…if you disagree…repubs…please give some examples of what repubs have done for the people. I don’t think there is even one.

  3. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/07/2018 - 12:29 pm.

    No one, and I mean no one, has said that banning bump stocks would result in fewer shootings. Johnson needs to be challenged on this. It would result in fewer people shot per shooting event, but no one has suggested it would result in fewer shootings.

    Clearly Johnson does not understand guns, and that would make him a dangerous governor.

  4. Submitted by R. Hanson on 09/07/2018 - 12:44 pm.

    the fact that “bump stocks” are a sub topic in a post about education is a sad indicator of how deranged America truly is

  5. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 09/07/2018 - 01:11 pm.

    It is quite simple. Anyone who wants to cut money from education without explaining why it will have no serious negative effects is not a supporter of public education. That there is no question that Republicans can cut education budgets – the more for less argument/ contradicts the capitalist mind set thstbprople are motivated to perform based on rewards. So hold down or reduce teacher pay and benefits while implying they are greedy for wanting to have a secure middle class lifestyle. Do any of them not care about pay and benefits?

    Johnson really should not try to compete with Walz in the area of education as he do obviously had not original thoughts on the issue. Just think – Republican leadership in education is provided by Betty DeVos who has repeatedly show how little she knoes about public education and the reality that if it went away, it wouldn’t bother her terribly much.

  6. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 09/07/2018 - 04:49 pm.

    Thank you, thank you, Karen Sandness.

    Sandness’ first point, about the close tie between socioeconomic levels of families and school achievement, has been well-known for decades. We have about as much social class prejudice in this country as we do racial prejudice, and it’s not a pretty sight. Politicians in general, and Republicans in particular, don’t want to talk about this widely-researched fact because actually **doing** something about it would require significant changes to the way the economy and school funding works – changes they don’t want to see. Frankly, plenty of Democrats are equally reluctant to talk about this issue, and for similar reasons.

    There’s no reason to do away with teacher tenure, and many reasons to keep it. The most important point is that tenure does **NOT** guarantee anyone a job. It merely requires that due process be followed if someone is to be fired. There are CEOs and HR managers who hate the prospect of having to provide an actual reason for handing someone a pink slip, but that doesn’t absolve them. If someone is not doing the job, document it.

    I’m well acquainted with the difficulty of trying to uphold academic standards when all the social pressure is to ease them instead. Not many parents want to hear that simply trying to do the assignment, or write the essay, or learn the equations, isn’t good enough. In the minds of many, alas, “trying” is the same thing as “achieving.” It isn’t. Regarded as a “tough” teacher myself, I can speak from personal experience of the pitfalls of insisting that students actually do the work, and do it correctly. That, in itself, is a good reason for tenure laws, and Sandness’ final sentence in her Point #4 is absolutely on the mark.

    School choice, and to a distressing degree, that includes charter schools, has been used as a smoke screen to divert attention from the sorts of narrow agendas that Sandness points out, as well as to quietly segregate (more properly, resegregate) many public school districts.

    As a retired, 30-year practitioner in public high schools, I’ve been resistant to the notion of statewide curricula for a long time, but the more I see the splintering of American education into haves and have-nots, the more I’m inclined to agree with Sandness about standardized curricula. Taking it to the federal level may be “a bridge too far,” and my faith in state education officials is, at the moment, minimal, but it seems an effective way to see to it that every child in the public system is getting the same intellectual and social material.

    Teaching is a demanding, stressful job, and any full-time parent has been the “first teacher” of their child. That experience should give more parents some insight into the difficulties of managing a classroom of energetic children, especially when the diversity of background and income of those children is taken into account. My personal hero, Mark Hirsch, at Marcy Open School in the Minneapolis School District has routinely had to deal with 25 to 30 **5-year-olds**, all day, every day, for about 36 weeks. I taught high school, which was challenging enough. Watching Mark – or **any* competent elementary school teacher – at work for even an hour would be a revelation for many a legislator who knows nothing about education except that s/he went to school. I applaud Sandness’ suggestion of starting the legislators with a 7th grade class.

    Unless they fall down due to structural deficiencies, schools do not – cannot – fail. Schools are buildings, incapable of performing academic tasks. What are failing are **students.** Too many children are not learning to read, or perform fairly simply mathematical operations, or speak publicly in coherent sentences, or any number of other tasks that old people like me are convinced could readily be learned and performed when WE were kids. Throwing money at the problem is not a cure-all, but there aren’t many school districts suffering from too much funding the last time I looked, or teachers buying half-million-dollar houses. Mr. Johnson’s talking points are simply the current Republican ideology, with little or no basis in fact.

    Unless and until the amount of money available for instruction is the same for **every child,** in **every school,** in **every school district,** any talk of “equal opportunity” by someone seeking political office is not only false, it’s a cruel joke. I recall reading something when I first arrived in Minnesota 9 years ago about a “Minnesota Miracle” that had to do with education, and that involved some redistribution of state monies so that school districts came closer to something we could call equity on a per-pupil basis. We seem to have moved away from that, and the moving away may be, at least in some cases, a partial explanation for that persistent achievement gap

  7. Submitted by Curtis Senker on 09/07/2018 - 06:07 pm.

    Synopsis:

    Johnson; pro student.

    Walz; pro teachers union.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/08/2018 - 08:55 am.

      Mr. Senker, you may wish to invest in a paint brush that is not so broad, as well as more than the two paint colors of black and white.

    • Submitted by Norm Champ on 09/08/2018 - 10:33 am.

      What a well voiced, well supported and articulate comment on (of all things) this article on the future of MN education. Is that all you got?

  8. Submitted by joe smith on 09/08/2018 - 07:26 am.

    Money has nothing to do with educating children. If money truly mattered the Minneapolis/St. Paul students would lead the state in every category, sadly with around $20,000 allotted per student, they are last. A broken public educational system with no competition, total lack of preparing children for actual life, more concern with what children learn as opposed to how to learn, no discipline in classrooms is the reason America has fallen to 35th in the world in educating children.
    A younger friend of mine home schooled his son. With no cost to his family, his son’s college board scores were high enough to be admitted to every college in America, at age 16!

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/08/2018 - 09:04 am.

      Mr Smith, please tell me about the childhood of your friend’s son. Had he seen his uncle shot, before he turned 8? Was he taken to museums before the age of 6? Did his parents struggle with addiction? Was there ever even a concern about going to bed hungry?

      Was he a refugee, escaping a horrible situation which you and I can only begin to imagine? Some kids never have the opportunity to crack a book before they enter kindergarten. Was your friend’s son read to before he could walk?

      Did your friend’s son live in a car? Or a homeless shelter? Did he ever go to sleep in a bedroom that was 45 degrees?

      Some of us were born on third base. Not all of us think we hit a triple.

      In the real world, where snowflakes quickly melt, life is not always so neat and tidy.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 09/09/2018 - 01:45 pm.

        Nope he had 2 parents (mom and dad) that loved him and saw him learning very little while being influenced by unruly fellow students in public school. They were responsible parents that were not looking for reasons to fail but solutions for their child. Went to the internet for lesson planners and their son flourished. Didn’t even cost them any money, even though money is the most important thing to education according to those here at Minnpost.
        Everybody has an excuse for not succeeding, those who succeed look for solutions. Give the parents of inner city kids a voucher for 20k per year, per student and let them find solutions for their child. Public schools are getting worse by the month!

        • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/09/2018 - 05:56 pm.

          You seem to be suggesting that parents who are homeless don’t love their children, and are “looking for reasons to fail.”

          I guess those parents who are addicted to drugs and/or alcohol merely need to “look for solutions.”

          It must be nice to live in such a simplistic world.

          If Bill Gates were born in a refugee camp in Africa, would he have founded one of the most successful companies in the world? Or did he benefit from the environment he was raised in?

          Put another way, life is a race, but it is a relay race. Some of us are passed the baton earlier in the race than others.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 09/10/2018 - 07:57 am.

            Yes, absolutely yes, parents with addictions need to look for solutions for themselves and children. It sounds like you’re advocating wherever you are, at a certain point in life, is where you stay. That’s a poor way to go thru life.
            Public schools are bad and getting worse daily, it is not a money issue. Give parents the ability to use the 250+k for their child’s education (k-12) as vouchers and make a positive change in their kids life. That loss of 250k will get the attention of the school district, failing students, dropouts and graduating kids that can’t read doesn’t seem to bother them.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/10/2018 - 09:26 am.

          So not in a bad neighborhood, and parents with the economic resources that they had the time to devote to educating their child (i.e. they weren’t working two or three jobs just to stay afloat). Also, parents with enough education or skills to be able to come up with the education plans on their own. I’m guessing the kid had no learning disabilities or issues that made it harder for him or her to learn.

          Well, there’s our paradigm, people. Kids, if you aren’t fortunate enough to have been born into circumstances like that, hard cheese.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 09/10/2018 - 10:08 am.

            Again, excuses why public schools are failing. Many people have overcome huge obstacles to find a better way for themselves through hard work and not making excuses. Why find fault with a family for homeschooling their child and having success?? My point was, money is not a cure all for public schools, as many claim.
            Competition with vouchers will get the public school’s attention and just maybe improve their dismal results. You would think the Left would like to help the poor folks who are forced to go to Public Schools with a better education.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/10/2018 - 12:45 pm.

            “Why find fault with a family for homeschooling their child and having success??” I’m not. My comment was more along the lines of “nice work if you can get it.”

            “Competition with vouchers will get the public school’s attention and just maybe improve their dismal results.” Or maybe not. Or maybe it will open the doors to all manner of hucksters who see the competition as a way to make a fast buck.

            Every competition has winners and losers. That sounds like no big deal when the competition is between, say, Comcast and Direct TV. It’s a little different when the competition involves the education of children. What happens to the kids whose parents pick the wrong competitor? When they send them to the charter school that was opened up just to bleed the system and whose operators were just in it for the money? Or when they get (taxpayer-funded) vouchers and send their kids to a school run by idiots you wouldn’t trust with a burnt out match? What’s the future like for a child whose education was provided by a school that regards the KJV as the only book you really need? Tough luck, right? Their parents should have made a better choice for them. Of course, it’s the kids who suffer, but it “could” have been better for them

            “You would think the Left would like to help the poor folks who are forced to go to Public Schools with a better education.” Public schools should be made better. They should provide all students the best education possible, regardless of their parents’ income, or lack thereof. They should not be regarded as a punishment.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 09/10/2018 - 12:59 pm.

            I have news for you, Public school is not working now. Try something different and get out of the rut that Public Schools are working great for everyone. Yes competition has winners and losers, so does life. Teach the kids that they one day will be in a job interview where 50 people will be competing for 10 jobs.
            Only in some utopia, that doesn’t exist, (except for schools and Government) is there no competition, teach the kids that along the way also.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/10/2018 - 02:27 pm.

            “Yes competition has winners and losers, so does life. Teach the kids that they one day will be in a job interview where 50 people will be competing for 10 jobs.” In other words, if your parents didn’t care, or made a mistake in picking your school, that’s tough. You should have picked better parents.

            You’re designing a system with the failure of some students being made a feature, not a bug.

          • Submitted by joe smith on 09/11/2018 - 09:54 am.

            Bug??? Half of the students in Mpls school district are not at grade level in math or reading entering 10th grade! Bug? Dropout rates are increasing. Bug? Hopefully there are folks looking to make changes to help the kids, not excuses to keep status quo.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 09/11/2018 - 10:56 am.

            “Hopefully there are folks looking to make changes to help the kids, not excuses to keep status quo.”

            How about helping all the kids, not just those who have the right parents?

            I’m not saying public schools can’t be improved. I’m just saying that letting them go further downhill while propping up an inequitable and poorly-overseen collection of private schools or charter schools is not the answer.

    • Submitted by ian wade on 09/09/2018 - 05:14 pm.

      In order to be accepted at “every college in America” your friend’s son would have had to apply to each one. I can guarantee you he did not do that. My daughter scored a 35 out of 36 on her ACT which certainly has opened doors and scholarships, but that still wouldn’t guarantee her acceptance at every college in this country.

      • Submitted by Dave Carlson on 09/13/2018 - 11:34 pm.

        I worked in a K-12 school system for 15 years and I just have to say there are many excellent public school districts in Minnesota, despite the broad and misguided criticism of public education by Mr. Smith. Yes, the inner city districts have larger student funding allotments but their challenges are proportionately greater than districts in more affluent and supportive communities… and they will only get and retain good teachers and vital educational resources and technologies with better funding, not less. When you go to the polls this fall and you care about educational opportunities for all, please remember the disastrous educational funding cuts by Pawlenty and the Republicans that took years to (only partially) rectify.

  9. Submitted by mark nupen on 09/09/2018 - 01:13 pm.

    Your writers are missing a Very Important predictor of School Failure, Literacy which is best learned in the First 3 years of life!
    Illiteracy is unfortunately more common than we think, AND it costs Dearly. 70% of prison inmates are mostly illiterate, 50% of high school dropouts, teen pregnancies and 80% of kids in juvenile detention.
    Why? Illiteracy is often a multigenerational problem and the parents don’t understand that early reading and ‘writing’ in the first 3 years of life are Essential. Police will tell you when they respond to a family domestic call there usually are not children’s books in the house! Better teachers are not enough. I favor a ‘Home Visitor’ model to help at risk mothers and fathers. Think about it, a small investment early on or Pay Dearly later from Literacy Failure. We don’t recognize this problem of illiteracy and WHY!

  10. Submitted by Tom Christensen on 09/09/2018 - 03:42 pm.

    I think with Trump in charge, Devos as Education Secretary, and Johnson as governor your child won’t have a chance at a good education. This is especially true if you are not wealthy.

  11. Submitted by Joe Musich on 09/10/2018 - 09:33 pm.

    Everyone is an expert in educational policy because they have had many years of education. Not ! All the street level experts extrapolate from their own experience. Maybe some have done some volunteering or had a child or a few in school. However the many facets of the operation of a classroom or school district is not a reflection of a facet or two of our national diamond we want our public schools to be. I respect the opinion of the people who are in the buildings daily for a truly educated and informed idea on the needs of schools,students and teachers. These experienced souls have much more then one or two personal experiences to draw upon when considering the needs and the consequences of previous policies. I am not sure how some can say the Waltz and his running partner do not have better answers then Johnson. It is plainly illogical. And maybe that is the problem.

    • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 09/11/2018 - 08:43 am.

      A high school teacher said that everyone is an expert on schools because everyone went to school and everyone pays taxes.

  12. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 09/13/2018 - 09:15 am.

    “Johnson said he wants to change the mindset in St. Paul that more money is the answer to problems in schools and instead look to ways to alter the status quo.”

    Why is it the Rs, successful consumers of a wide variety of goods and services, consistently follow the simple guidance of “you get what you pay for”: Want a better car? Trade in the Chevy for a Mercedes. A fancier hose? Good bye Richfield, hello Edina. Yet, when it comes to education you get better by spending less?

    Years ago when our kids were first approaching school age we did a fairly wide ranging exploration of options. If educational excellence was the single factor, the Blake Schools world have been the clear winner. The best teachers, curriculum, facilities across the board. Unfortunately $20,000 1995 dollars was not in our plan and we passed. Oh, and they made very clear that our $20,000 tuition hardly covered the cost of this fine education: their endowments and on going giving supplemented the tuition costs. And, of course, if your child had special needs, they could not make the accommodations that a public school could.

    Education, like virtually every other good or service is subject to:

    “you get what you pay for”

    And to think otherwise is pure rationalization…

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