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 Response Page - Bartholomew / McDonald  Interview - MN Business Partnership, Educational Issues    

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Jim Bartholomew / Tim McDonald Interview of  12/1908.

The Questions:

_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 view?

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 unrelated responsibilities.

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 mitigated.

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 parents.

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 of
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.  

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
8301 Creekside Circle #920,   Bloomington, MN 55437.
Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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