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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Larry Pogemiller  Interview of

Direct aid to postsecondary students garners more support than aid to institutions.


Higher education is in a transition period right now, according to Larry Pogemiller, director of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. He says there's a growing recognition that higher education is basically a market system, not a public system, like K-12. All colleges, he believes, have a vested interest in how we can better facilitate higher attainment and higher quality education. Governor Mark Dayton's budget calls for a balanced new investment of $240 million in higher education: $80 million for direct student aid; $80 million to the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system; and $80 million to the University of Minnesota. But direct student aid, he believes, enjoys more support than aid to institutions. He calls the governor's funding proposal for early childhood education also an investment in postsecondary education. Minnesota baccalaureates who incur debt have the third highest average debt ($29,800) in the nation. And the percentage of Minnesota students taking on debt (71 percent) is the fifth highest in the nation. As Minnesota moves into the arena of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Pogemiller believes the state must pass a law to cover the possibility of some MOOC providers offering credit for their classes. He says an effort to redesign grades 11 to 14 is basically dismantling high school and redesigning it to do a better job of personalizing it. A new application for digital devices could help students keep track of their academic accomplishments and explore possible career paths. Finally, Pogemiller is stunned at how challenging it is to create change in higher education.

For the complete interview summary see:

Response Summary: Readers have been asked to rate, on a scale of (0) most disagreement, to (5) neutral, to (10) most agreement, the following points discussed by Pogemiller. Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

1. State should direct aid to students. (6.0 average response)   The state should place a higher priority on providing more money for direct student grants-in-aid than on increasing appropriations to state colleges and university.

2. Award credit for online courses. (7.3 average response) State colleges and universities should find a way to grant degree credits to students who complete online tuition-free courses offered by prestigious accredited universities.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. (8.9 average response) There should be more curriculum coordination between high schools and post-secondary schools to assure a seamless progression into the first two years of post-secondary education.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. (7.6 average response) Expanding pre-kindergarten opportunities for poor children is essential for those children to succeed in K-12 and ultimately in post-secondary education.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. State should direct aid to students.







2. Award credit for online courses.







3. Ease transition to post-secondary.







4. Pre-K for poor children essential.







Individual Responses:

Chris Brazelton (7.5) (7.5) (10) (10)

1. State should direct aid to students. Quality and graduation rates (hopefully) will drive students towards the best value.

2. Award credit for online courses. The difficulty may be in keeping quality if more students gravitate to the convenience of online courses. Somewhere along the line someone needs to pay for the content.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. Studies certainly support this, if the programs are of high quality.

Mark Stevens (0) (5) (10) (5)

Kevin Kujawa (0) (2.5) (7.5) (5)

1. State should direct aid to students. The private colleges are extremely expensive. The students can get the same classes at the same quality level or better at a much less expensive price at the public institutions. As a taxpayer why should I pay more taxes so students can get higher aid for a private college?

2. Award credit for online courses. Often the institutions that offer these courses for free are private colleges that leverage their private sources of funding much of which is unavailable to public institutions. The same funding may have strings tied to it or may be from sources tied to corrupt sources.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. At this time public technical and community colleges give examination to new entering students to be certain their skills are at the college level. This exam for ESL students has been shown to be markedly inaccurate and invalid yet the colleges still use the exam for all students.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. The research of the results of the pre-kindergarten benefits seems mixed in this area.

Lyall Schwarzkopf (0) (2.5) (2.5) (5)

Anonymous 1 (2.5) (2.5) (7.5) (2.5)

Lawrence Gurley (5) (10) (10) (10)

1. State should direct aid to students. The state should invest money into projects that will benefit everyone. Investing in permaculture rather than private-culture would be the best thing for everyone.

2. Award credit for online courses. Online classes are some of the most valuable resources in education. I know from experience. One can learn through an online portal as much as they would in a classroom and the best thing is that it can be offered for free when the student wants to learn it. This gives students the ability to learn how to be a good student because they have time to grow before they take on a new challenge. Mainstream k-12 for purses bombarded me with content I wasn't ready for. Students are all unique and their education structure should reflect that much better than how it is now.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. American education puts too much energy into preparing students for college when they can just show students, by providing an experience, what they should expect. Writing a paper was something that the majority of my fellow senior classmates dreaded doing. That could be fixed by providing specialized courses that work on the necessary skills to pass a student on to college but specializing in the content the student is interested in. For example this would liberate the student from being involuntarily forced to make a grade in, say, English when they would rather spend more time studying science and writing more about the metamorphosis of butterflies. This is of course possible today but I believe it would be more likely with specialized course programs.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. Children should always have an adult that can tell them who they are and what they are here for. Not having that leads children to delinquency fast. Everyone should know that children need to be nurtured because if they don't we collectively perpetuate chaos and suffering in the world. Love should be taught throughout school and embedded into the curriculum; it is so real and has such a profound cause and effect relationship, it bothers me how relatively little I had been given compared to what I could have received in my k-12 experience.

Scott Halstead (2.5) (5) (7.5) (10)

1. State should direct aid to students. I favor a balanced approach. Schools need the financial resources to invest in the facilities and faculty

2. Award credit for online courses. Limits need to be placed.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. Perhaps high schools should reimburse higher education for remedial courses.

Bright Dornblaser (10) (10) (10) (10)

2. Award credit for online courses. Yes, if agreement on definition of "prestigious"

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. Will this require changes in HS curriculum requirements?

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

Anonymous (0) (2.5) (7.5) (10)

David G. Dillon (10) (10) (10) (0)

1. State should direct aid to students. Empowering the consumer is a great strategy. Still, you have to wonder if the establishment will cause the grants to be restricted in such a way as to be much the same as appropriations to the same colleges and universities. They know how to play this game and will be there to amend the bill.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. This seems like such an obviously good idea. And, I see people I trust to be wise about such matters fully supporting early child education. Still, I continue to read about studies that show zero long-term benefit. So what is a non-Low-Information-Voter to do?

Dave Broden (5) (10) (10) (10)

1. State should direct aid to students. This is a reasonable topic, but without more information and discussion particularly on how results and outcomes relate to the use of the funds, stating a position is difficult. On one hand, the individual making the decision is a plus but strengthening the academic element could be of value if the funds have outcome focus.

2. Award credit for online courses. The evolution in education approach and content to meet the needs of all ages today and in the future will require blending of educational formats and sources. Seeking an open-minded approach is key to adapting to change thru disruptive technology with benefits.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. This is absolutely needed and there also must be a link to business, industry, health care, etc. so that students have [a] view and understanding of what careers can be. This link also must be visionary to look to skills and opportunities for the future.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. Pre-school is critical and can offer a benefit if effectively implemented and made available on a fair and equitable basis. The dialogue also must not be only on the poor children; while state commitment can be focused to the poor there must be recognition that all children must have and can benefit from pre-school.

Dennis L. Johnson (10) (7.5) (7.5) (5)

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. Need more evidenced of benefits of public pre-school as being done.

Don Anderson (7.5) (5) (7.5) (10)

1. State should direct aid to students. This would aid the state colleges and universities as well as allowing more students the opportunity to go to college.

Lyle Tjosaas (2.5) (7.5) (7.5) (7.5)

Joe Nathan (10) (10) (10) (10)

2. Award credit for online courses. Agreed.

3. Ease transition to post-secondary. Agreed, and hope that Minnesota Office of Higher Education (MOHE) will take a much larger role in sharing information with families about Post Secondary Enrollment Options(POSE), AP, IB and College in the Schools. That includes the new 10th grade career tech PSEO option. Low-income and families of color often don't know about these opportunities. MOHE is in a great position to help promote these opportunities throughout the state.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. Very much hope the Governor will insist on significant funding for 3-4 years, that is followed up through 2nd grade. Research by Art Reynolds and Judy Temple at University of Minnesota shows this is the "most bang for the buck."

Robert J. Brown (10) (10) (10) (5)

Fred Zimmerman (10) (2) (10) (7)

The State should encourage a great deal more fiscal accountability at all levels of education

Chuck Lutz (9) (8) (9) (9)

Al Quie (5) (10) (10) (10)

Laura Waterman Wittstock (10) (10) (10) (10)

Wayne Jennings (7) (10) (10) (10)

Arvonne Fraser (5) (7) (9) (10)

Tom Swain (3) (6) (10) (10)

Tom Spitznagle (5) (10) (9) (3)

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Bert LeMunyon  (7.5)  (10)  (7.5)  (2.5)

1. State should direct aid to students. Colleges and Universities should undergo a rigorous cost saving campaign to reduce annual cost increases.  Faculty and staff should share the financial burden and not cast it solely on students through never ending tuition increases.

4. Pre-K for poor children essential. This does not address the home situation from which these kids come.  It is expecting educational systems to raise the kids.


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.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
2104 Girard Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55405.
Dan Loritz, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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