Student teaching: An unaffordable necessity shuts out many lower-income students

Metro State does its best to make college doable for working adults, but the buck stops at student teaching. State law says anybody who wants to teach must first work full-time for 10 weeks in an unpaid teacher internship. At Metro’s School of Urban Education, leaders say the college’s 12-week student teaching requirement is a major drop-out point. This article is part of a series that will examine the requirements Minnesotans must meet to become teachers, the ways in which training programs are changing, and the people they continue to leave out. For related stories, go to Who’s teaching in Minnesota? Continue Reading

When tests tell teachers nothing: Special needs not met by standardized tests

Every spring at St. Paul’s Bridge View school for students with significant special needs, teacher Rachel Peulen spends two to three weeks administering a test that she knows will tell her next to nothing about her students. On most days, Peulen’s middle schoolers each work on activities designed to meet their particular needs. One student works on remembering classmates’ names. Another practices recognizing flashcards inscribed with simple words. Continue Reading

Adoptive parent urges: If you’re not ready to parent, consider adoption option

Sarah Hamlin dreams of the day when it’s socially acceptable for unprepared mothers-to-be to put their children up for adoption. Hamlin is the matriarch of an extremely blended family, with a step-daughter in college, a 13-year-old birth daughter, an 11-year-old son who was adopted at 5, and two daughters, 8 and 5, who were adopted together at 4 and 18 months. She’s convinced that the three children she adopted out of foster care would be living easier lives had their birth parents considered adoption sooner. The neglect her kids experienced when they were little means they struggle daily with anxiety and behavior issues. Hamlin is a spokesperson for Adoption Option, an organization that promotes adoption as a neglected but important third option for pregnant mothers. Continue Reading

MN VOICES | Betty Ellison-Harpole: Teaching beyond the recipe, living outside the box

Betty Ellison-Harpole moved to the Midwest in the 1950s from segregated Memphis, Tennessee. For 37 years Betty taught kindergarten through third grade, as one of few African American teachers in Minneapolis schools. She piloted the city’s first all-day kindergarten class at Bethune school in the early 1980s. Although she’s retired now, Betty is still active in education circles, and age has not diminished her personality. If you give her the opportunity, she will talk to you for hours about early education, Minneapolis politics, and growing up poor and African American in the South. Continue Reading

Minnesota adoptions: Success stories and waiting children

Brianna’s mom, Tia Vasquez, always hoped to one day adopt a child, but she didn’t know it would be a 15-year-old who’d spent more than a decade being raised by the foster care system and state institutions. Brianna entered foster care at four years old. Early trauma made her a difficult child, who was passed from foster home to foster home. She was adopted when she was seven, but abuse at that home landed her in a state institution, where she learned to control her severe behavior. Now she’s entering a new phase of her life. Continue Reading

2012 election: Twin Cities students learn about democracy in real time

St. Paul Johnson High teacher Logan Kane expected last Friday’s AP Government conversation to be a juicy one. It was a follow-up to another heated discussion that left students condemning their country’s election system. 

The topic? The electoral college: an issue so outwardly dry and complex that many adults avoid ever figuring out what it does. “We were like, ‘What’s going on? Continue Reading

Diane Ravitch warns Education Minnesota: “High stakes testing is sucking the life out of American education”

“Standardized tests have not, are not and never will be an instrument to advance civil rights or to end poverty. They don’t do that,” Diane Ravitch told educators at the annual Education Minnesota conference on October 18. “High stakes testing is sucking the life out of American education.”

Education Minnesota, the state teachers’ union, kicked off its annual conference with a keynote speech aimed to fire up teachers fatigued by what reformers, policymakers and the media say about their profession. Of course, if the listening teacher happened to work for a charter school or Teach for America, they might not have been so pleased with what they heard. But those teachers were less likely to turn out in droves for the union-sponsored event. Continue Reading

Minneapolis autism teachers “blown away” by new classroom technology

Four coins appeared in a box on a computer screen. Hans Glocker, a Sanford middle school student with autism, calculated the coins’ total, then chose the right value out of three listed. A cascade of bubbles appeared on the screen, making plinking sounds as they popped. The special education teachers in the room ooooohed. “That is a great motivator,” said Hans’ teacher Janet Macdonald. Continue Reading