GOP education plan has educators seething

On Thursday afternoon, the state Senate passed a highly contentious education budget bill that has many in the Minneapolis schools seething. They see the bill, and its sibling passed by the state House of Representatives on Monday, as an attempt to put their districts on a “starvation diet.” And, as poor Minnesotans move to the northern and southern suburbs in increasing numbers, some wonder if the Republican proposal is setting schools in many of their members’ districts up for failure. “What do they know about kids living in poverty, about kids whose parents are refugees and immigrants? What do they know about those experiences and challenges? ” said Minneapolis School Board Chair Jill Davis, speaking about GOP legislators who approved the plan to defund Minneapolis, St. Continue Reading

LGBT activists question Target’s new giving policies

Last week, Target Corp announced what some are billing as a major change in their corporate giving policies, in an attempt to avoid a repeat of last summer’s public relations fiasco, following their donation of $150,000 to anti-LGBT Republican Tom Emmer’s campaign for Governor. However, at least one LGBT political group is skeptical that the changes will prevent similar anti-LGBT actions by the company.Target would not comment on specific questions for this story, but spokesperson Jessica Carlson said the policy revisions came out of last year’s widespread protests against the donation. “During and immediately following the 2010 U.S. election cycle, Target undertook a review of its political giving policies and practices,” Carlson said. “As part of this process, Target has established a Policy Committee consisting of our most senior executives to guide decision-making related to financial support of political activities.” According to the company’s website, the Policy Committee will consider both “the interests of our guests, team members, shareholders and other stakeholders” along with the company’s “business interests” when deciding if a particular political contribution would be in Target’s best interests. Continue Reading

Minneapolis’ schools adopts LGBT-inclusive sex ed, evidence-based anti-bullying

The Minneapolis Board of Education made history on Wednesday, in a couple different areas. The board swore-in Hussein Samatar, the first Somali-American elected to office in Minnesota. But it also took a little-noticed step toward ensuring equality for the district’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students in an anti-bullying resolution.

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Educators unimpressed as Dayton, Emmer, Horner debate education future

Thursday night, the three leading gubernatorial candidates squared off in a debate in Twin Cities Public Television’s St Paul studio focused on education. The night was long on hopes and aspirations, and short on specific proposals for addressing urban, suburban, and rural challenges, leaving some education leaders dismayed at prospects for the future of Minnesota’s public schools. 
“Plastic” was how outgoing Minneapolis Public Schools board member Chris Stewart described the evening, criticizing DFLer Mark Dayton, GOPer Tom Emmer, and IP candidate Tom Horner for not providing specific plans in how they would address the state’s persistent achievement gap between students of color and white students. “Urban school districts are the canary in the coal mine,” Minneapolis schools Superintendent Bernadeia Johnson told the Daily Planet in an interview on Friday.  “Suburbs and other school districts are seeing an increase in poverty and diversity, and the old solutions and strategies don’t support the challenges we face” in closing the achievement gap. Stewart’s former colleague, Pam Costain agreed with his assessment.  “I didn’t hear any specific proposals tonight,” she told the Daily Planet, lamenting the reluctance to address funding problems at the state level, where in per-pupil dollars, state funding to school districts has declined significantly in recent years. “There’s no money now nor in the near future” for public education, she said.  Without a reform of school funding mechanisms, “public education will continue sliding down.” Continue Reading