Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Brad's In Jail. I am sure some of you are saying "Finally!" Lest you worry, there are no criminal charges here. Instead, I have volunteered to go behind bars for the Muscular Dystrophy Association's annual Telethon Executive Lock-up. Any help in raising my bail would be appreciated. I may be calling some of you on Thursday, as I sit behind bars, but if I don't feel free to contribute to MDA anyhow. Any size donation will be greatly appreciated. Some examples of what even a modest donation can mean are: $25 would cover the cost of a flu shot--critical for those who suffer from MD, $65 will keep MDA's worldwide research program going to another minute, $100 covers the cost of a vital support group meeting. The list goes on and on. Please help the MDA continue its research and provide needed services to children who really appreciate your help.

How I Keep Up with National Politics. One of the hidden gems on the internet is that of Rasmussen Reports, a national polling organization that polls major political race and issue preference polls throughout the country. A service they provide is a daily report that is chock full of interesting little tidbits on races and issues that may be of interest to you. At the very least, it provides an opportunity to gauge the public will from a number of angles.

For more information, go to: . In the upper left-hand corner of the page, you can enter your e-mail and receive a free daily update. It's a bargain at twice the price.

More Free Stuff. Education Week also provides a free e-newsletters on a variety of topics. An Education Week subscription is fairly inexpensive (around $70 for 52 weekly issues), but in these tight times, that may prove too steep for many. The top stories on the Education Week website are free and along with the free e-newsletters, you can get a ton of information about what is happening on a variety of education issues around the nation.

Education Week website:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An Interesting Possibility. Many of you know Richard Wassen, former staff member at the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Board of Teaching. Earlier this week, Wassen, now working for the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, called me regarding the college's efforts to bring Clifford Adelman, a distinguished education researcher and former Senior Research Analyst for the United States Department of Education, to Minnesota for a presentation. Adelman now works for the Institute for Higher Education Policy.

Adelman has a very distinguished career and has written a number of influential books and articles on education, especially as it relates to the transition from high school to college. Getting Adelman to town would be a true coup and I will keep you posted as to progress toward that event.

One of Adelman's most influential works is Answers in the Tool Box: Academic Intensity, Attendance Patterns, and Bachelor's Degree Attainment. A link to a summary of that work (along with access to the entire document) can be found at through the link below:

Tool Box:

An effort related to Adelman's work is LearnMoreMN. Information on this exciting work can be found at the link below:


Interesting Survey at Minnesota 2020. With the Minnesota Department of Eduction's approval of the MACCRAY ISD #2180's plan to go to a four-day school week, this idea has piqued the curiosity of both other school districts and education policy makers throughout the state.

Minnesota 2020 is taking a survey from interested parties on this question. To participate in the survery, go to this link on thee Minnesota 2020 website.

Four Day School Week Poll:{DEF7F7BE-3CDC-40A4-AF15-B21574248771}

Legislative Committee Approaching. The first SEE Legislative Committee Meeting of the 2008-2009 program year will be held on Tuesday, July 22, at the MASA office complex conference room. The meeting will begin at 9:30 and run until 11:30 when we will end with lunch. We will set the parameters for the 2009 Legislative Platform at this meeting. Since I have been Executive Director (and I believe before I was Executive Director), all members have a standing invitation to participate in legislative committee proceedings. However, if you are planning on attending, please let Deb Griffiths know. Her e-mail is

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

In the National News. One of the more interesting news items from the past week was Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barack Obama's appearance at the annual conference of the National Education Association. Obama's remarks were generally well-received, but were met with a smattering of boos as he mentioned his support for some system of merit pay. Obama also mentioned the need for continued accountability and his support for some portions of No Child Left Behind.

Obama received the NEA endorsement (Okay everybody, do your best Gomer Pyle "Sooo-prize! Sooo-prize! Sooo-prize!) at the convention, so it was interesting to see him challenge the membership on several key issues. How this shakes out during the remainder of the presidential campaign remains to be seen, but Obama will certainly enjoy the NEA's healthy financial backing. At the same time, Republican candidate Senator John McCain, who shares Obama's views on merit pay and No Child Left Behind, will certainly try to make the point that Obama is in the pocket of the status quo in terms of education policy.

Obama Education Platform:

Minnesota Public Radio Education Feature:

Story at NEA site (with video clip):

McCain Education Platform:

Your House Republican Candidates.
State House of Representatives' Minority Leader Marty Seifert held a press conference yesterday to announce his caucus' slate of candidates for the 2008 General Election. The Republicans will have a candidate in all 134 House districts, which should make for some interesting competition. Of course, one of the more watched races up to this point has been in House District 16B, where Republicans endorsed former Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer over incumbent State Representative Mark Olsen. Olsen has not announced whether he will run as a Republican in the primary or head straight to the general election as an independent. He has one week to decide, as filings close on Tuesday, July 15, at 5:00 PM.

MPR Story:

Endorsed Republican House Candidates (incomplete list):

Note that Faribault School Board member Otto Luknic is the endorsed Republican candidate in House District 26B and former Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan School Board member Judy Lindsay is a candidate in House District 37B.

Monday, July 07, 2008

It's After the 4th of July, so Let's Start Blogging. I've been away for about a month and it's high time I get back to my work of keeping you informed. There are numerous meetings going on in the aftermath of the 2008 legislative session and we are just a week away from filings closing for the 2008 congressional and legislative races in Minnesota. In other words, there is going to be plenty of news to report.

This morning, I attended a meeting with several transportation directors, Grace Schwab from the Minnesota School Boards Association, Captain Ken Urquhart from the Commercial Vehicles Division of the Minnesota State Highway Patrol, and Senator Rick Olseen (DFL-Harris). As many of you recall, Senator Olseen authored the legislation that set in place new requirements for the training and background checks of drivers of Type III vehicles.

The problem being experienced in the interpretation of this legislation centers on the word "normal." The legislation exempts from drug and alcohol testing and an annual physical those drivers for whom transporting of students is not considered part of their "normal" duties. As the bill was being passed, the seemingly agreed upon interpretation was that only drivers--mainly teachers and coaches--for whom the transportation of students was not explicitly spelled out in their contract would not be subject to these requirements. However, upon implementation of the bill, the Department of Public Safety has come to the belief that "normal" should include drivers for those activities where transportation of students is implicit in the activity, such as a debate coach driving students to three or four debate meets or a golf coach driving kids to the local golf course during the golf season.

With the school year just around the bend (yes, it's a mere 8 weeks away), it is hoped that an agreement on a working definition for this legislation can be reached so school districts are not taken by surprise after they have hired drivers. I will keep you clued in as work on this important subject goes forward.

Memberships Coming In. Thanks to all of you who are renewing your memberships early. It's always great to see the checks come rolling in and especially gratifying in a year when many of you are having to make difficult cuts. Feel free to have me out to your board if you would like further information on some of the exciting things we'll be pursuing in the year ahead.