Chalk Talk: Minneapolis teachers speak out, express differing opinions on education policy

Unless they’re striking or running for something, individual teachers rarely take center stage in election-year education conversations. Last Thursday, the League of Women Voters passed the microphone to five Minneapolis educators who described their conflicting perspectives on education policy in the classroom. The League is a non-partisan political organization that is hosting numerous events this election cycle to inform voters about issues like education policy and voter ID. Thursday’s event took place one day after the first presidential debate, and, although the event was presented as a forum, not a debate, the tone was at times more combative than conciliatory, especially on the theme of teacher tenure and “last in, first out” policies. Panelists responded to questions on topics ranging from teacher evaluation to testing, the achievement gap and student suspensions. Continue Reading

At Jefferson School in Minneapolis, a walking school bus on International Walk to School Day

More than 150 Jefferson elementary students and parents arrived to school Tuesday on a walking school bus. At 9 am, a team of school employees in bright orange vests met families at the corner of Blaisdell and 27th in Minneapolis. The mass of walking people grew as it curved towards Garfield and around to 26th, picking up more passengers at each intersection. At its largest, the “bus” was at least two blocks long. (Photos below)

Schools around Minneapolis hosted activities this week to celebrate International Walk to School Day October 3. Continue Reading

Counseled out: How some Twin Cities charter schools push kids with disabilities towards district schools

Last fall, only 4 percent of the students attending Dugsi Academy in St. Paul were in special education. That proportion is smaller than in most charter schools, and it’s much smaller than in Minneapolis and St. Paul district schools, where overall 18 percent of students are in special education. Today’s article looks at the practice of “counseling out” students with disabilities. Continue Reading

More kids with disabilities in Minneapolis and St. Paul district schools than in area charters

Twin Cities charter schools enroll a smaller proportion of special education students than St. Paul and Minneapolis district schools. The special education students who do attend charters tend to have less intense needs than the students with disabilities attending district schools. Why is this happening? And what does that difference mean for funding in district and charter schools? Continue Reading

How local are those flowers in the window? Part 2 of 4: Minnesota’s flower king

In sleepy August, when warm breezes blow and the sun shines endlessly, small flower fields ring the Twin Cities. Their proprietors, who in many cases are vegetable growers first, saturate farmers markets with deep red, yellow, and purple flowers. It’s a time to forget that for seven months of the year, flowers are not a part of the Twin Cities’ landscape. The rest of the year, one grower sits at the top of most Twin Cities florists’ “locally grown” lists, and it bears little resemblance to any family farm you’ve ever imagined. Len Busch Roses is the biggest grower of cut flowers in the Midwest. Continue Reading

Do students with intellectual disabilities like Down syndrome belong in college?

CORRECTION 7/31/2012 – All it is for now is a faculty member’s dream. Lynn Stansberry-Brusnahan, a special education professor at St. Thomas whose son has autism, wants to start a program at the university tailored for students with autism. She would set up structured social time for students whose disability makes them struggle to find a place among their peers. She would offer supportive housing, nested within mainstream dorms. And advisors would help students with the time management caveats that tend to trip up students with autism. Continue Reading

Minneapolis summer meals provide respite for busy parents and hungry kids

A single dad seeking convenience. A mom rushing between jobs with her daughter in tow. A group of kids who stay at the rec center from open until close. These are just a few of the people taking advantage of Minneapolis Public Schools and the Park and Rec Department’s summer meal program. Anyone under age 18 can eat free breakfast, lunch, dinner or snack at one of 26 parks around Minneapolis this summer. Continue Reading

Where are future teachers? St. Paul’s Future Educators enlists high school students

Como High School junior Augustus Johnson knows something about what it’s like to be a teacher, but there’s a lot he doesn’t know. The self-dubbed president of the school’s Future Educators of St. Paul club knows from experience that getting kids’ attention is one of the hardest parts of teaching. He knows less about the pressure on teachers to produce high scores on standardized tests and work long hours for modest pay. Johnson knows that the best teachers are the ones that connect well with young people like him. Continue Reading