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Tuesday Talk: What do schools need?

November 01, 2011 By Michael J. Diedrich, Policy Associate

Next week's school levy votes—taking place in one out of every three districts statewide—are a sad testimony to years of inadequate funding by legislative conservatives. Instead of defunding education, we should invest in a system that propels Minnesota toward national excellence.

With that in mind, what do Minnesota's schools need to be the best in the country?

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  • steve p says:

    November 1, 2011 at 7:57 am

    As a recently retired teacher, I (along with many other educators) have come to the conclusion that the one thing schools need to be the best has no monetary value and can not be purchased.  We need dedicated parents to get involved in the school’s educational system and support their child’s learning at home.

  • Maggi Schiller says:

    November 1, 2011 at 8:33 am

    AMEN!  If becoming well educated citizens was seen to be as important as it used to be in the United States and as it currently is in much of the rest of the world, parents and the “villages” that raise children would INSIST that ALL students do what is necessary to be successful - pay attention, work hard, be respectful, work hard, ask questions, work hard.

  • Mona says:

    November 1, 2011 at 8:50 am

    As a retired educator, I think that Steve P. put it best.  We need to move to a society that values education and hard work.  If parents do not value education, we cannot expect their children to do so.

  • janet says:

    November 1, 2011 at 9:18 am

    For years I’ve argued that it is not the teachers or the school districts but the parents that set the tone for how well their children perform. But, that is not all. Education is now being recognized as a civil right. This right has been diminished by the extreme right thinking that schools should be made private. That is a driving concern for public schools. THey are continually demonstrated by the right to be underperforming, No Child Left Behind establishes this with the expected outcomes that schools can not meet. No business expects 100% compliance, how, as a human race, could we expect ALL children to perform above standards? Standards which are made to fail even the best of schools based on a handful of students have an inate inability to pass due to no fault of their own.

    We must as a state “own” this civil right. Parents must help by setting the tone in their households for what is expected. Without that, the civil right will fail on its own.

  • Pat Igo says:

    November 1, 2011 at 9:40 am

    Tough culture change. Finland’s Public Education system has been ranked #1 Internationaly for years. No acheivement gap there. Education to the Fins is what the National Football League is to America. We have lost a good part of parent involvement. Need to start teaching values, responsibily and commitment to our young students again.

  • David Strand says:

    November 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Replicate a system that produces the best results.  In the private sector it’s called benchmarking.

    Education policy in Finland
    Finnish education and science policy stresses quality, efficiency, equity and internationalism. It is geared to promote the competitiveness of Finnish welfare society. Sustainable economic development will continue to provide the best basis for assuring the nation’s cultural, social and economic welfare. The overall lines of Finnish education and science policy are in line with the EU Lisbon strategy.
    In Finland, the basic right to education and culture is recorded in the Constitution. Public authorities must secure equal opportunities for every resident in Finland to get education also after compulsory schooling and to develop themselves, irrespective of their financial standing. Legislation provides for compulsory schooling and the right to free pre-primary and basic education. Most other qualifying education is also free for the students, including postgraduate education in universities.
    Parliament passes legislation concerning education and research and determines the basic lines of education and science policy. The Government and the Ministry of Education and Culture, as part of it, are responsible for preparing and implementing education and science policy. The Ministry of Education and Culture is responsible for education financed from the state budget. The Government adopts a development plan for education and research every four years.

  • Bill Graham says:

    November 1, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Parents promote their chidrens’ educations better if they themselves are well educated and can generously spend time with their children starting at a very young age.  America’s social economy has diminished both these assets over the past generation.  As a result, public schools have been expected to make up for all that modern parents do not provide for whatever reason, from feeding and day care to teaching socialization and basic skills needed to support academics.  It seems to me these realities point to the needs for more time spent in school and a re-ordering of how we measure academic achievement.  That should build from the actual achievement level of each student rather than from where we think the student should be based on age, years in school or how schools were 50 years ago.

  • Ryan says:

    November 1, 2011 at 10:24 am

    It is such a tough conversation to have.  In current society, no matter which side of the fence you take, it is the wrong answer to a large group of opposition.

    Schools deal with more issues and concerns than ever, while trying to remain fiscally responsible with the public’s money.

    Schools need to working in a society where we are not bent on polar opposites.  Schools will function their best when they are able to work on the greater good, with public support and public criticism(to keep them honest).

    There used to be days where there was overall support of the actions our schools took.  We need to get back to the, whats best for students, and not what’s best for me(Me can be a teacher, administrator, parent, politician, etc.)

    Just restore the faith in the process and a lot of the other issues will be solved.

  • Rose V. says:

    November 1, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Another thing to note about Finland is that they start their academics later, at age 7. Prior to that, children are in play-based kindergarten. Mounting evidence suggests that with hard academics it is better late than early.

    If we are really going to do what is right for our children, we ought to look at is what (aside from bragging rights) are the benefits from early (pre-school) academics?

  • Mary T says:

    November 1, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Education is a complete state, federal, parent, school, community collaborative.  It cannot survive unless it is.  It isn’t enough for kids to simply pass and graduate.  They have to believe their community, state and country, along with their family support their success in life, which studies show their education plays a key role in providing.  Anything less is denial and failure for all of us, especially the student.  Minnesota’s history and ranking says we are better.  We can’t lose that.  We need to set an example.

  • KJC says:

    November 1, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    One of the things that we don’t do?  We don’t treat schools like they’re merely some sort of “line item” on the budget to be pounded down.  Like all the IOU’s we’ve sent to schools in the Pawlenty years.
    When you sell out the future, mostly to have life be “easier/more pleasant” today, you are heading into deep trouble.

  • Tony Rozycki says:

    November 1, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    Our schools need to focus on teaching the basics without all the subjective political agenda fluff.  They also need a few timely, fairly & honestly administered, standardized tests to measure aptitude & achievement.  Students shouldn’t be penalized for doing well in aptitude tests.

  • William Pappas says:

    November 2, 2011 at 5:42 am

    Technology investment is unfortunately becoming more indespensible.  In 2006 my daughter, an excellent student, spent the first semseter of college catching up to the technology skills of students from Michigan and Wisconsin.  Their use of technology in scientific research had already prepared them for much of the rigors of college and graduate level scientific method and data analysis and display.  She eventually caught up but if we are to be competitive, that’s not the best way to send off our HS graduates.

  • Belinda Flanagan says:

    November 2, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    I no longer have school age children, but I am concerned for all the children in Minnesota.  The low high school graduation rates are really unacceptable.  What are these children going to do for work?

    We cannot afford to have an underclass of uneducated people who have no job skills and can’t acquire any because they can’t read, do math, or use technology.

    I realize that there are some young people that have mental handicaps that prevent learning proficiency, but no one should get beyond First Grade without being on a track to learning basic math and reading.  I think more early childhood education would be a start.  If we identify problems early, it would be easier to help the child over come them.

    Underfunding education is a very stupid and short sighted public policy.  And Vouchers are not the answer.
    Poverty assistance would help.  A hungry, child in an unstable home has two strikes against him at the start.

  • Dan Conner says:

    November 7, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Well, as I’ve said before, we need to fund education in Minnesota, and the nation for that matter, to make it the best in the world.  Price should not be a consideration.  Education will be the future for our state/nation, so funding it has to be first priority.

    Then, after our system has been fully funded to be the best there is, then, hold administration and faculty responsible to see that it happens.  Now, we are engaged in a silly back-and-forth recrimination process on both sides.

    As I’ve said before, companies don’t blink an eye when spending $30,000/year to educate American kids overseas, when parents work over there.  So, why not here?  I just want there to be the best education possible here, in this country.  Enough, that we beat all nations hands-down.  The conservative survivalist mentality is destructive and counter-productive for our children, our state, nation, and standing among the world’s nations.  We’re getting what we pay for.

  • Ray Ogren says:

    November 7, 2011 at 10:48 pm

    Schools need “functional” students who are prepared to learn and have the capacity to achieve; nothing more.