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These comments are responses to the Civic Caucus interview with

Roger Moe, former Minnesota State Senate Majority Leader
March 27, 2015

Developing a full range of STEM talent is critical to continued high tech growth in Minnesota


Roger Moe, former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader and architect of the 1995 merger of state colleges, community colleges and technical colleges into the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system, says frustrations with the state's postsecondary system led him to propose the merger. He felt the campuses were competing, rather than cooperating, leading to higher costs; the culture of higher education was treating vocational-technical education as the "doormat" of postsecondary education; and students were unable to transfer credits from one state postsecondary institution to another. He says he concluded that the state higher education system needed a better system of governance.

Moe believes the merger has relieved some of those frustrations. But he's not sure the culture of higher education has changed in its view of vocational-technical education. It would take more study, he says, to determine whether the merger contributed to the devaluing of vo-tech education, as some people have asserted. He says, though, that he's beginning to see some efforts to put more emphasis on career and technical education.

Moe says the distribution of state community colleges, technical colleges and universities would look entirely different if it were planned today, largely due to the advent of the Internet. But he doesn't see a way for the technical colleges to leave the MnSCU system and go back to the previous model of locally run Area Vocational Technical Institutes (AVTIs), as some people have suggested. He does believe that the AVTIs, among all of the state's postsecondary institutions, had the strongest relationships with business and industry. But he says that at least some postsecondary campuses around the state continue to have those strong relationships.

He asserts that the E-12 education system is not doing its job, as shown by the high percentage of community and technical college students needing remedial courses. And Moe believes students should have earlier exposure to career opportunities-during their elementary and high school years-and should have the opportunity to take career and technical education classes at their high schools.

For the complete interview summary see: Moe interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readersí zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll. 0

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, readers rated these statements about the topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

1. Topic is of value. (9.1 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Further study warranted. (8.0 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

Readers rated the following points discussed during the meeting on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree): 

3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure. (8.2 average response) The high percentage of college students needing remedial courses represents an indictment of the E-12 education system.

4. Ties should be stronger to local district. (7.4 average response) Technical colleges ought to coordinate more closely with their local school districts than with other state postsecondary institutions.

5. CTE should be more highly valued. (9.1 average response) After decades of devaluing career and technical education in favor of the liberal arts, it is a positive development that many legislators and post-secondary educators are now reversing that trend.

6. Allow more autonomy for local ties. (8.3 average response) Minnesota's technical colleges should be given the autonomy to develop close ties with and respond to the needs of employers in the communities where they are located.

7. Increase support for Skills Partnership. (8.0 average response) To maintain the quality of the state's workforce, greater support should be given to DEEDís Minnesota Job Skills Partnership, through which employers and educational institutions cooperate to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities, and keep high-quality jobs in the state.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Topic is of value.







2. Further study warranted.







3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure.







4. Ties should be stronger to local district.







5. CTE should be more highly valued.







6. Allow more autonomy for local ties.







7. Increase support for Skills Partnership.







Individual Responses:

Bert LeMunyon (10) (5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

Anonymous (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (10) (10) (10)

3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure. I agree, but I feel it is due to issues E-12 is facing that they are not adequately funded to deal with (budget issues leading to large class sizes, behavioral issues, rapid increase in ESL students, too much focus on standardized testing, etc.).

Scott Halstead (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (10)
3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure. In some cases, individuals delayed entering college for several years and remedial courses may be appropriate.

4. Ties should be stronger to local district. Technical colleges ought to assist high schools by providing counselors for technical education in their region.

Ray Ayotte (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10) (10) (10) (10)

Dennis Carlson (10) (10) (2.5) (10) (10) (10) (10)
1. Topic is of value. Roger Moe was certainly a visionary and ahead of his time in his support for career and technical training and his single governance structure for higher education in Minnesota.

2. Further study warranted. Charlie Weaver, Exec. Director at the Minnesota Business Partnership would be a good interview if he would agree to it.

3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure. Not entirely true. When you consider the average age of many of the community college students it is in the high 20s or low 30s. Because they have been out of the education system for some time they may need some additional coursework. Another answer is for the local school district through Community Education to provide free Adult Basic Education (at no cost to the student) on campus to help with remedial education. We have that in both Coon Rapids and Anoka at Anoka-Ramsey and Anoka Technical College.

4. Ties should be stronger to local district. Our STEP program is a great answer to that challenge. We bus students from 5 high schools to give them that opportunity.

6. Allow more autonomy for local ties. So should high schools like our CEMS program at Blaine and the bio-med program at Coon Rapids. They also should (and both do) develop close ties with business through advisory councils, mentorships, scholarships, etc.

M. McGee (7.5) (10) (7.5) (7.5) (10) (5) (10)
3. Remedial needs point to E-12 failure. I think our culture has moved away from holding a successful educational experience as a primary goal. I also think we have created, or acquiesced to, a system whereby there are few or no consequences for failure. We have created 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th chances. As a result the costs are out of control.

4. Ties should be stronger to local district. Yes, but perhaps more importantly, colleges need to cooperate with one another. The entire MnSCU system rewards competition, and that has not changed since the inception of the system. It may take a legislative mandate to change this.

5. CTE should be more highly valued. Technical education has not just been devalued compared to liberal arts, it's been devalued culturally, when compared to "white collar" careers. We love to talk about adopting the German apprenticeship model, for example, yet in Germany and in most of the rest of the world, technical careers are valued and those who work in them are held in esteem. Not in the U.S.

6. Allow more autonomy for local ties. I think we do have autonomy to do this, but there's a problem when a company wants some help, for example, with obtaining a better angle on getting the graduates with skills they need and 3 or 4 colleges get involved because there is interest at the level of the system office to "spread the success." Yet what happens is competition between those schools for the "business" and we don't look good when we devolve to a competition mode.

7. Increase support for Skills Partnership. In a perfect world this is how it would work. The reality is that an A to Z solution like this is extraordinarily difficult to create.

Bob Vanasek (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5) (5) (10) (5)

David O'Denius (10) (10) (7.5) (10) (10) (7.5) (10)
4. Ties should be stronger to local district. I think this would be a key reform. Many linkages with local job markets could be in this partnership.

Chuck Lutz (9) (8) (9) (8) (10) (9) (7)

Jeff Johnson (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)

When Sen. Moe created MnSCU, he envisioned a system that worked. He couldnít have envisioned the structure that currently exists. First, hereís what he envisioned:

Peter Hennessey (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na) (na)
Could it be that people are figuring out that even the best jobs (such as STEM) are being off-shored or foreigners imported to do them, and vocational training is more likely to lead you into a career that's safe from that? After all, you don't send your car or plumbing to be repaired in Asia.

Tom Spitznagle (8) (8) (10) (10) (10) (10) (6)

Jerry Fruin (10) (8) (8) (5) (8) (8) (8)

Mina Harrigan (8) (5) (8) (3) (10) (3) (10)

Bright Dornblaser (10) (5) (10) (5) (10) (8) (10)

Larry Schluter (9) (9) (6) (7) (7) (8) (8)
Very interesting discussion. Technical colleges are very important to our state and economy and we need to make sure they are successful.

Tom Swain (10) (10) (8) (5) (9) (8) (5)

Roger A Wacek (na) (na) (10) (10) (10) (10) (5)

Lyall Schwarzkopf (7) (7) (9) (8) (8) (8) (7)

Paul Hauge (9) (8) (9) (7) (9) (7) (8)

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The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Interview Group  includes persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

  John S. Adams, David Broden, Audrey Clay, Janis Clay, Pat Davies, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje (Executive Director), Randy Johnson, Sallie Kemper, Ted Kolderie,
Dan Loritz (Chair), Tim McDonald, Bruce Mooty, John Mooty, Jim Olson, Paul Ostrow, Wayne Popham, Dana Schroeder, Clarence Shallbetter, and Fred Zimmerman




The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 612-791-1919   ~   Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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