These comments are responses
to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Jim Bartholomew / Tim McDonald
Interview of 12/1908.
_6.8 average____ 1. Giving teachers more
power and authority is said to help combat low graduation rates among
racial and ethnic minorities. On a scale of (0) strong disagreement,
to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your view?
_7.9 average____ 2. Smaller schools are
said to help reduce problems of discipline and poor attendance. On a
scale of (0) strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong
agreement, what is your view?
_7.1 average____ 3. Placing teachers in
charge of their own destiny is said to reduce the need for labor
protection and instead promote professional associations, similar to
those for physicians and lawyers. On a scale of (0) strong
disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, what is your
Shari Prest (5) (7) (4)
Question 1: depends on what "power and authority" it replaces and on
the quality and depth of data used to make this determination.
Question 3: This wording is too vague and makes assumptions that
unsupportable. My rating would be zero if it places additional
administrative and leadership burdens upon classroom teachers. School
administration and classroom instruction require different but equally
important skill sets. I want teachers focused on instruction and would
like to see them able to enjoy the flexibility to implement creative
and individualized strategies as appropriate. I believe this is how we
treat them as professionals--not by giving them different and often
Donald H. Anderson (8) (6) (5)
Lyall Schwarzkopf (6) (6) (8)
Vici Oshiro (10) (6) (5)
Terry Stone (8) (8) (8)
Question 1: Legislative or congressional tort reform would seem a
prerequisite to implementation of increased teacher authority. The
risk of litigation against both the teacher and the school must be
Question 2: While smaller schools no doubt diminish disciplinary
issues, the loss of economies of scale results in higher costs.
Question 3: My best guess is that labor organizations will tend to
disagree. (Contender for understatement of the month award.)
Al Quie (5) (10) (10)
Jim Keller (_) (7) (10)
Giving teachers greater authority in the school (not classroom), and
the district - what does this mean? I am all for moving from a union
mentality to a professional mentality for teachers. We have known many
teachers over the years, and all were confident of their ability to
hold their jobs and succeed on the basis of their abilities.
Wayne Jennings (8) (6) (8)
Yes, give school staff more power but accompany it with accountability
and giving parents choices of programs. MN statute 123B.04 allows a
school staff with a 60% affirmative vote to negotiate control over
staffing, budget and program with the school board. In the only
instance of this occurring (with an 83% vote), the school board
refused to negotiate despite the law that they "must" negotiate. The
statute needs strengthening to provide for an appeal process. We need
more variety of educational programs. Almost every school in MN,
including charter schools, are the traditional model of mastering
subjects. That's not good enough to engage youth and prepare them with
21st century skills.
David Pierson (8) (8) (8)
Robert Brown (5) (9) (8)
Question 1: Unless you control who the teachers are or how they are
prepared how can ou be sure that giving them more authority and power
will help graduation rates? Giving more power to those who are
currently failing in their jobs makes no more sense than giving them
more money just because they are a year older or have taken a couple
of college courses.
Question 2: Other things being equal I believe things are better in
small schools because the individual is less likely to fall between
the cracks. However, the quality of the leadership and the teachers is
even more important than the size of the school.
Question 3: While I agree with this concept, it may require a
different kind of teacher than now exists is some schools. Many people
went into public education because it provided a secure job once you
got on tenure. We need teachers who are more comfortable with risk in
order to succeed and not just follow orders.
Robert A. Freeman (8) (6) (8)
Question 1: I suspect that many teachers would like this increase in
responsibility but this is just one of many tools that they must use.
Question 3: Strongly agree - however teachers unionized for a reason
(to protect them from bad hiring and employment practices) and there
would have to still be some strong protections in place in a
professional association structure.
Rick Bishop (6) (6) (4)
David F. Durenberger (10) (10) (10)
Paul and Ruth Hauge (9) (9) (7)
Fred Senn (10) (10) (10)
Bill Jungbauer (6) (8) (7)
Scott Halstead (10) (10) (10)
I strongly believe that smaller neighborhood schools result in higher
achievement levels and a corresponding increase in involvement of
Bill Kuisle (8) (10) (7)
Larry Schluter (1) (8) (0)
Giving teachers greater authority is a concept that has been tried
before. Nothing new. Teachers would start their own hierarchy and
would have a lead teacher and then they would establish another line
of authority. They would only want to make the decisions they would
want to make. They would not want to lay off a more senior teacher if
that person was not performing as well as a less senior person. What
they may want to do is look at more mentoring of other teachers so the
performance of others can be improved. If teachers want more
management authority, would they be willing to give up their union
status? I don't believe you could have management status over others
and still be part of the same union.
Christine Brazelton (5) (10) (5)
Thank you again. The guests are bringing valuable insights and
experience to the subjects under discussion.
Question 1: I don't know if I would put it this way. Part of the
problem, as I've seen it play out, is that textbooks, lessons, school
culture are often still based in the majority culture, leaving
minorities to feel disconnected. One of the reasons Harvest Prep is
successful is that they maintain a culturally relevant environment
while still setting high demands on their students.
Question 2: Too many children fall through the cracks as the schools
get larger. More and more kids don't make the cut in drama, on sports
teams, in clubs, etc. and don't find a niche. As good a school as Eden
Prairie High School is, I shudder when I think of the extent to which
this plays out. This is where we end up needing more and more social
workers and counselors, to try to catch the kids who are falling. Some
would suggest that we get rid of all the extra curriculars and focus
our attention solely on the classroom. I suggest that we would see an
even higher dropout rate if we assume that the classroom is the only
place where valuable lessons can be learned.
Question 3: Again, I don't know if I would put it this way, but I do
agree with the broader discussion with our guest. We must step back
from the labor/management rhetoric and build trust around remembering
that our focus must be on what's best for
the kids and the future of our state, nation and planet. Teachers who
are able to spark the imaginations of their students and inspire them
to succeed must be nurtured and maintained. Teachers who are burned
out and watching the clock, or whose focus is misdirected need to find
new careers that inspire and feed their own spirits.
Everyone I have spoken with remembers the great teachers of their
youth as well as the really poor ones. Many were not memorable but did
an adequate job. I would get rid of the hockey coach/history teacher
who spent class time talking about the soap opera "All My Children"
and sports and cheated me out of learning history in high school. Many
the situations raised with poor teaching seem to stem from the need
for coaches to be classroom teachers. Just because someone can teach
kids to play a sport well does not mean that they should be thrust
into a classroom and subject the students to a wasted year of an
important school subject.
Tom Swain (7) (5) (8)
The Civic Caucus
is a non-partisan,
tax-exempt educational organization. The Core participants
include persons of varying political persuasions, reflecting years of leadership in politics and
business. Click here
to see a short personal background of each.
Verne C. Johnson, chair; Lee Canning, Charles Clay, Bill Frenzel,
Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, John Mooty, Jim Olson,
Wayne Popham and John Rollwagen.