1. _5.4 average___ On a scale of (0)
strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, do
uniform standards for education conflict with customized approaches
for individual students?
2. _6.0 average___ On a scale of (0)
strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, should
the state have fewer, larger, school district administrative units
overseeing the public schools?
3. _7.4 average___ On a scale of (0)
strong disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) strong agreement, should
the state begin investing relatively more on children in pre-school
and elementary grades versus high school?
Ann Berget (2) (5) (2)
A more interesting topic for these same commentators might be "Why do
They know a lot about it and I'd be willing to bet that
"administrative structure" is not a leading reason.
Question 1: There could be some conflict, but IMO, too much emphasis
is placed on individualization and not enough emphasis is placed on
student effort. Also, no mention is made of assessment of incoming
(K-level) students to learn what their level of preparedness is when
they arrive at the schoolhouse door. Not all deficiencies are caused
by or can be cured by the teacher.
Question 2: Too much attention is paid to this aspect of public
education. It is the proverbial "deck chairs on the Titanic" solution.
Question 3: This "solution" can lead to the exodus of high-achieving
students at grade "break-points", i.e. middle school, high school.
They are also entitled to a full share of instructional attention. It
can also have the effect of weakening the attachment of middle class
households to their communities if they think that their "successful"
children are shortchanged. They can and do move to obtain
opportunities for their kids.
Patti Hague (8) (5) (7)
Glenn S. Dorfman (0) (5) (10)
Question 1: Of course not. If the standard (outcome/objective) is that
every student learn to manipulate fractions and understand their
function in daily life, the way (the pedagogy that we use) to teach
different students to achieve the goal is a totally different matter.
Question 2: Only if they are cheaper and more efficient than the
Question 3: And at the same time, foster parental involvement in
the cognitive development of children in the same way that sports is
fostered (actually, if this costs more money, we could take the money
from sports programs and apply it to the cognitive/social/emotional
development of our collective future. That is, we could put our money
where our priorities are.....
Clarence Shallbetter (8) (7) (8)
Vici Oshiro (1) (3) (10)
Bright Dornblaser (8) (!0) (10)
Carolyn Ring (8) (10) (10)
Fewer school districts should cut down on administrative costs, while
giving the opportunity for an increase in curriculum choices,
especially at the secondary level.
Robert Klungness (5) (4) (6)
Connie Morrison (3) (5) (0)
Question 2: Perhaps in some cases. _
Question 3: Throwing money at a problem has never seemed to solve
classroom need problems. It depends how money is spent. Perhaps
investing in a Master Teacher program for High School while reducing
classroom ratios in the lower grades would be a worthy goal.
Wayne Jennings (8) (4) (8)
Question 1 Question not clear. I'm agreeing with uniform standards do
David Broden (8) (6) (7)
Question 1: The focus of education seems to be on measurement and
metrics rather than the purpose and intent of learning. Standards are
good to step benchmarks or guidelines but when they become dominate
like it appears they have and replace the focus on learning with
simple special tests and there is considerable cost and time
associated with the standards vs. addressing what is important the
value of education is diminished not strengthened. Standards should be
considered to set the playing field but not to be constantly measured
and then put a number of the individual or a group rather than simply
spending more time and dollars on the education of the individual.
Question 2: This has been an argument for over 50 years and really has
perhaps done more harm than good. Yes there is good reason for some
management consolidation--but the same can be done by sharing some of
the management staff and keeping local control. Innovation in the
management of schools is just as important as how we use innovation in
the teaching classroom. I concur that some districts need greater
teaching resources-which can be shared across districts or across
schools--larger districts or management teams is not the only way to
bring expanded classroom capability to an school. Some innovative
techniques should be explored to share resources of staff (teachers
and management). Only when these alternatives fail should be we ready
to say make the district larger. Getting specialty education to the
small rural districts can be done today with web based classes--shared
teachers etc--just because a district has a few students or is a bit
remote should not remove the ability for that district to have access
to that resource. Please recall that up to the late 50's Minnesota had
about 5 high schools for farmer children to attend a special program
from October to March--Morris--Crookston--Luverne --Wascea--and I
think Worthington--this model worked well for that day--now we can do
the same with internet etc. while maintaining local management if we
do it smartly.
Question 3: The correct answer to this one is that we need the
increased individual attention at the pre-school and elementary so
that problems at the high school level are minimized. We should not
diminish high school funding but rather improve or bias the the
Robert J. Brown (0) (2) (8)
Question 1: It is important to distinguish between standard and
methods of achieving them. In our global economy we must have
relatively high uniform standards for our students so they can succeed
in their occupations and in their roles as citizens, but you can
accomplish those standards in a variety of ways. This is analogous to
someone saying that you must get from point A to point B in your car,
but you can decide how you would get there - the fastest route, the
safest route, the most scenic route, etc. Too many educators get
locked into ideologies that preclude allowing for different approaches
to achieve our educational ends.
Question 2: Over the years the state has used both the carrot and the
stick to reduce the number of school districts. This has led to
reduction in number of district from over 8000 (yes, that is eight
thousand) in 1947 to the 300+ that we have today. We also have
voluntary intermediate units that provide some service that individual
small district cannot efficiently provide for themselves. Reducing the
number of districts was always sold as providing more efficient and
more effective education which led people to believe that cost would
go down because of economies of scale. I have yet to see a
consolidation where the costs went down, they always went up. Some of
the increases were for more services, but others appeared to be just
for more bureaucracy. Also, as districts get larger the individual
citizen feels they donít have the relationship with the schools that
they had in smaller units. One approach that would help, regardless of
the size of the district, is to truly decentralize, allowing the
decisions at the building level on how to spend the educational
dollars. The most important thing is for the individuals (teachers,
parents, other citizens of the community) to have a unit small enough
and responsive enough that people feel they are respected and have a
fair say in the local educational system. The charter school movement
has grown far beyond what I anticipated in large part because of the
desire of parents to have their kids in a system where both parent and
child feel they are recognized as individuals and not just as numbers
in large bureaucratic machine.
Question 3: Our school aid formulas were set up in 1947 based on past
spending practices Ė that led to a secondary student counting for 1.5
times as much as an elementary student. The Legislature gradually
reduced that ratio over the years, but each change was fought by
districts that would see relatively less money (even though they
didnít deserve the amount they were getting.)
At a minimum there should be at least as much money spent on an
elementary child as a secondary student and we should probably spend
more on the younger kids to prevent the need for remediation as the
child gets older.
Peter Heegaard (3) (7) (9)
Alan Miller (8) (5) (10)
Dan Loritz (2) (8) (9)
Al Quie (10) (0) (10)
Chris Brazelton (2) (5) (8)
Question 1: I believe we can have fairly uniform standards for what we
expect students to be able do without necessarily having a
one-size-fits-all approach for getting there.
Question 2: I like the idea for achieving economies in reducing
administrative costs in salaries, however there would be significant
challenges in loss of local control.
Question 3: If children are not inspired and motivated at an early
age, no amount of resources at the "drop out" ages will matter.
State Sen. Sandy Rummel (8) (7) (6)
Question 1:We need to get over the idea that kids are widgets and that
education is a horse race. When we finally decide that raising
children to be productive participants in the social and economic life
of our society is the responsibility of all of us, and that it goes
well beyond book learning to include the physical, mental and
emotional health of children and their families, we will be well on
our way to a high functioning, prosperous
Question 2: Geography matters.
Question 3: We need both. Pre-school and early childhood investment
promises large returns, but unless that investment continues
throughout schooling, the returns are likely to diminish. A recent
report "Dropouts, Diplomas, and Dollars" (www.all4ed.org) suggests
that if we graduated 5% more males from high school the return to
Minnesota would be $77 million EVERY YEAR. Think what we would save if
we graduated all our students! We could put those dollars back into
Donald H. Anderson (8) (7) (5)
Not being an educator and but observing it through a daughter who is a
teacher and grandchildren in school, my observation is education is
doing a difficult job in today's society without the resources totally
needed - perhaps there is to much federal interference in setting
standards that are not in tune with the needs of the local society
makeup. One shoe doesn't fit all.
Jan Hively (4) (5) (7)
Question 1: Standards are good... The question is how you measure
performance. For example, the Profile of Learning collected varied
data, much of it compiled by the students themselves, whereas "Leave
No Child Behind" depends on high stakes written tests. Huge
Question 2: It doesn't matter. It depends on what the educational
philosophy and policies are. We need leaders who will insist on
teaching that fits the research on how, when and where students learn.
Question 3: The two principals basically described facts. Not much
there in relation to policies for educational change. Except the
Connie Cameron (7) (9) (8)
Question 1: ďUniform standardsĒ is an ambiguous term. If you consider
the word uniform in the context of clothing, itís clear that one size
does not fit all. Itís also the case that the uniform is redesigned
for unique body shapes. Education must have high standards for every
individual Ė student, teacher, administrator, parent.
As a teacher and parent, I believe itís time for educators and parents
to teach students how to set high standards for themselves. Imagine
the tone that would be set by an expectation that the first day of
each quarter or trimester was focused on students wrestling with
standards, sampling new concepts to whet their appetite, setting the
bar higher than their last success.
Question 2: The larger administrative district model can better offer
courses taught by the best trained teachers. It is unfair to children
to have marginally qualified personnel. A larger district model makes
mentoring and peer coaching more likely to occur. The more diverse the
student body, the more important that the administrative district has
long arms to embrace all students.
Question 3: As a high school teacher, I firmly believe that almost
every academic problem I have faced with students could have been
addressed very early. I have come to believe that every learner of
every age is most profoundly deterred or advanced by how they see
themselves as learners. Imagine encouraging three and four year olds
to be confident in their learning talent, giving them an opportunity
to be good at something at an early age, and boosting that talent with
exposure to fresh information and appropriately challenging
This failure to believe in oneself can be turned around. Itís much
easier if the person can recall a time as a young child when they were
happy and confident.
Tim McDonald (10) (5) (5)
Question 2: Depends, I think, on the purpose: if these over-archical
organizations are assuming managerial/administrative tasks to free up
localities, that is helpful. But it should be toward the end of larger
degrees of site-control.
Question 3: Secondary school it seems is facing a design problem
more-so than a funding one. Early childhood deserves a pilot program,
Robert A. Freeman (3) (8) (7)
Question 1: I would be supportive of federal standards as long as they
allow sufficient leeway for schools to tailor them to their own
regions/cultures. E.g. history and geography might differ but math and
English are the same across the country.
Question 2: Absolutely - if education is under funded it makes sense
to reduce costs with some economies of scale.
Question 3: Yes but this should be means-tested, the research shows
this has the most impact for the most needy children. Also the point
about whether this should be done by social workers or teachers is a
good one - I believe that the programs showing the best results look a
lot more like social workers working with the parent(s) than teachers
working with children. High schools need a complete overhaul as they
are failing to prepare students for the marketplace.
Charles Lutz (5) (9) (8)
Lyall Schwarzkopf (6) (9) (7)
When I was with the Metro Council I proposed that we eliminate all
school districts in the Metro Area and have only one district which
was would handle some of the administrative duties that school
districts do today. Each school within the Metro Area would operate
similar to a chartered school. The Principal, teachers, and parents
would run the school and we don't need schools boards any longer. Each
school would be able to hire its own teachers, but all grades for the
students would be kept in the one school administration office. Well
it was an idea that went nowhere.