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 Response Page - Wyse  Interview -      

These comments are responses to the questions listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Duncan Wyse Interview of


Duncan Wyse, president, Oregon Business Council, Portland, OR. Wyse describes that state's recent enactment of legislation creating an "Education Investment Board" that is charged with improving public education outcomes through alterations in state financing. He describes the political compromise involved in such a change, next steps toward implementation, and the possibility of outcome-based budgeting being used elsewhere in the state.

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 Wyse. 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. Seat-time model inadequate. (7.9 average response) Time-based education, in which students all move from grade to grade at the same rate, is no longer sufficient if a state is to meet its economic goals. While some students succeed, too many fail miserably and eventually drop out.

2. Base path on learning proficiency. (6.6 average response) A new design is needed that treats time as variable and learning as constant, building a seamless pathway organized around student proficiency, not seat time.

3. Base funding on outcomes. (5.7average response) From now on all types and age levels of education should receive state funding based on measureable outcomes, not compliance with regulations.

4. Adopt new funding structure. (4.9 average response) Minnesota ought to consider an all-encompassing education finance structure similar to Oregon's Education Investment Board.

5.  Radical change unnecessary. (4.1 average response) Quality of education from pre-k through college in Minnesota is not so threatened as to require radical change such as is occurring in Oregon.


Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree


Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Seat-time model inadequate.







2. Base path on learning proficiency.







3. Base funding on outcomes.







4. Adopt new funding structure.








5.  Radical change unnecessary.




   S  10%





Individual Responses:

Pat Barnum  (10)  (10)  (5)  (2.5)  (7.5)

3. Base funding on outcomes. I am having a hard imagining how this would be implemented equitably. Truly, inner-city schools have more challenges than their more affluent suburbs. So an inner-city district, I imagine, would have different goals than a suburban one. But at what point is that decided and who would believe that completely unbiased decisions were made? I foresee trouble and finger pointing from both directions.

4. Adopt new funding structure. We need to be open to change, but assuming this model is good for Minnesota when they haven't even fleshed it out themselves would be foolhardy.

5.  Radical change unnecessary. Certainly public education outcomes in Minnesota are dismal. But assuming the state should be paying for (and) responsible for all learning from the moment a child leaves the womb until it is a legal adult is far reaching, expensive, and too much government. We used to (educate) students at a fairly acceptable level in 12.5 years. Now we can(not) get the results we want so the solution is to expand the number of years we do it? Illogical.

Ray Ayotte  (10)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (10)

Chris Brazelton  (10)  (10)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (2.5)

1. Seat-time model inadequate. Portland, Oregon has good Waldorf schools that may have influenced this new way of looking at progress and rates of learning.

3. Base funding on outcomes. Outcomes need to be realistic and based on child's capacity, taking into consideration variety of mental health statuses and learning disabilities.  We don't live in a cookie cutter world, and cookie cutter methods of educating children leave many behind.

4. Adopt new funding structure. Any structure will need buy-in from all the key players, including employers, teachers’ unions, principals, communities, parents.  All players can be part of the solution. Any players left out of the process are likely to become obstacles to success.  Treating any group as the enemy will guarantee formation of obstacles.

5.  Radical change unnecessary. We do have a high quality system, but that system has been pushed and pulled from so many different directions as to have lots of holes in it.  We do need a comprehensive approach that takes into consideration many challenges, including the high cost of addressing disabilities in small districts, challenging our brightest students, and offering high quality variety of courses to those in rural areas where there is not a critical mass of students.  Online or virtual classrooms, special education funding and other issues need more attention.

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

5.  Radical change unnecessary. My main concern not addressed is what happens to the student that doesn't have the ability, either academically, home background, or similar factors -- that student has to have a point where the educational system can no longer continue to fund his or her progress, or lack thereof. What happens to those persons?

Peter Hennessey  (5)  (5)  (5)  (2.5)  (2.5)

1. Seat-time model inadequate. "Time-based" education has always tried to find a "happy" medium between fast and slow learners, thereby doing a disservice to both. The reasons for drop-outs, however, can be many, including boredom by the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, or cultural imperatives -- for example, Hispanics who push their teens into physical work, not academics; ghetto blacks who forcefully discourage "acting white", and others of any color who for whatever reason consider themselves ill adapted to a world based on reading books and excellence in academics.

2. Base path on learning proficiency. The new design that is needed should be based on a re-examination of the very idea that the state must provide for the educational needs of our children. There are other alternatives, for example private and Catholic schools. Why do education reformers never examine why Catholic schools turn in consistently better performance, and have done so for about two thousand years? Why don't education reformers ever consider applying the only remedy that works in all other realms of human endeavor, the free market? Why don't education reformers ever consider letting the consumer have a choice?

3. Base funding on outcomes. Correct -- no on "compliance," yes on "measurable outcomes."  No on State funding.  But the devil is in the details, in this case, the definitions of "compliance" and  "measurable outcomes."  Why don't education reformers ever consider letting the consumer have a choice?  Why don't education reformers ever consider a free market model of funding?  Why do "education reformers" always see the world in dictatorial, theocratic, top-down terms, and never even consider alternatives? A better model would be more in line with another of their pet doctrines, the theory of evolution, in which individuals adapt to their circumstances in their own way and therefore the system survives because of the inherent variety in it, so that one fatal mistake does not collapse the entire system and one fatal flaw does not victimize the entire population. Even this would be more in line with their fundamentally anti-individualist attitude prevalent in the educational and political establishments.

4. Adopt new funding structure. No, the theory of "experiments in democracy" works if Oregon tries whatever Oregonians want and Minnesota tries whatever Minnesotans want. Don't just copy anything until you see that it works. In the meantime, consider letting the consumer have a choice, consider a free market model of funding.  And let's just get one thing straight; spending on education is not an "investment," it is spending. Spending is not an "investment" just because it goes for a necessary and worthwhile purpose. What's next, reclassifying welfare as an "investment" against social unrest? Reclassifying military spending as an "investment" against war? Reclassifying doctor bills as an "investment" against sickness and death? Reclassifying food bills as an "investment" against starvation? Reclassifying clothing bills as an "investment" against nakedness? Reclassifying water bills as an "investment" against thirst and filth? Reclassifying heating bills as an "investment" against winter? Where is the return on investment? What product is created that can be sold and resold in the marketplace? For how much can I sell my PhD diploma to someone else? The money I spent getting it may be an investment in myself personally, because it opens (different) doors, it may even qualify me for a higher paying job, and if I am lucky it may eventually return the amount I spent on getting it. But when I get a job, it is my employer's expenses on my salary and benefits that are his investment in me, in exchange for which he expects to see me produce something valuable that he can sell so he can at least recover his expenses and keep paying me. Nothing in the concept of "investment" applies to expenses and spending for education, welfare, national defense, infrastructure, utility bills, food, clothes, etc. These are just the basic costs of being human, living in a human society. Insistence on calling education an "investment" only reveals a fundamental ignorance of and hostility to basic economic principles, especially to any concept of a free market.

5.  Radical change unnecessary. Yes, on the quality of education being threatened everywhere.  No, the changes occurring in Oregon are not necessarily the right ones.   Consider letting the consumer have a choice, consider a free market model of funding.

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

3. Base funding on outcomes. There needs to be an incentive system for the school district, leaders and instructors.  How do you design a good system that properly takes into account student, community and parental variables?

W. D. (Bill) Hamm  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (0)

1. Seat-time model inadequate. A regurgitation of the same "Mastery Learning", "Outcome Based" garbage that got us into the third world education system we have now.

2. Base path on learning proficiency. More senseless ignorance not worthy of discussion as every bit of this garbage has already failed repeatedly.

3. Base funding on outcomes. Outcomes as this (person) describes them are subjective analysis not objective.

4. Adopt new funding structure. This is more socialist centralization of control and power, the very thing that has undermined our present education system. We need local control not State control.

5.  Radical change unnecessary. It needs to be radically changed back to the local control and competition model that made Minnesota a recognized leader until this … was forced down our throats.

Chuck Lutz  (9)  (8)  (10)  (9)  (5)

Ralph Brauer  (10)  (0)  (0)  (0)  (na)

The Wyse interview (is) a very scary one, which I hope will not be adopted in Minnesota. The notion of time as the currency for education is not new. It was developed by our group, the Transforming Schools Consortium, in 2002 and was published in several professional journals in the early 2000s. The idea actually came from Mark Davison of the University of Minnesota. The time model has been presented to the Minnesota legislature several times, most recently the session before last, to the House Education Committee.
By the way, any one who thinks learning is a constant needs to examine learning theory a bit more. If learning were a constant there would be no need for schools.                                                                                                                                                     
Funding based on outcomes without a systemic notion of the feedbacks between available resources and student needs is counter-productive. It gives more funds to those who do not need them and withholds them from those who do.

Terry Stone  (10)  (10)  (10)  (7)  (1)

R. C. Angevine  (5)  (7.5)  (5)  (2.5)  (5)

1. Seat-time model inadequate. I believe that we need a system that allows those with the drive and skills to advance faster to do so while at the same time encouraging those who need to proceed at a "normal" pace or who require additional assistance to do so as well.  I do not believe that time-based education itself is the reason that "too many fail miserably."

2. Base path on learning proficiency. See response above.

3. Base funding on outcomes. We definitely need to move to a more results based process but I'm unclear how the system discussed accomplishes that.  Simply providing more funding to systems that do well sounds good on the surface but may not address any of the real issues (such as home situations, area socioeconomics, etc.) that lead to poor performance and may be beyond the control of the local school district.

4. Adopt new funding structure. I would need to understand the proposed process a lot better before I would agree.


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;  David Broden, Charles Clay, Marianne Curry, Bill Frenzel, Paul Gilje,  Jim Hetland,  Marina Lyon, Joe Mansky, John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  and Wayne Popham 

The Civic Caucus, 01-01-2008
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Verne C. Johnson, chair, 952-835-4549,       Paul A. Gilje, coordinator, 952-890-5220.

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