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EdWatch Urges Senate to Confirm
Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke

March 4, 2004

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
For further information contact Elizabeth Jensen, Political Director, 952-361-4931

(SAINT PAUL, MN) EdWatch, a statewide parent/citizen education public policy organization, today urged the Minnesota Senate to confirm Cheri Pierson Yecke as Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). "Both her past experience and accomplishments since her appointment last year have shown that Commissioner Yecke is well-qualified and has a genuine heart to improve education in Minnesota," said Michael Chapman, EdWatch Board Member and Education Researcher. "She should be confirmed by the Senate without delay."

"The current partisan attacks against Dr. Yecke are designed for political leverage to attack the proposed academic standards in science and social studies," said Chapman. "Those attacking the Commissioner as an 'enemy of local control' were silent as EdWatch spoke out against federal intrusion under Goals 2000, the Profile of Learning, and the No Child Left Behind Act being rolled out in Minnesota."

According to Chapman, the Commissioner is being blamed for her support of NCLB. "The motivation for this sudden awakening is obvious,” he stated. “The personal attacks on the Commissioner for political gain should be rebuked. The Senate should allow our governor to govern as the voters who elected him have mandated."

A native Minnesotan, Dr. Yecke received her bachelor of arts in history, with an English minor, from the University of Hawaii. She earned her masters degree in teaching from the University of Wisconsin, and a Ph.D in educational psychology from the University of Virginia.

From the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s, Dr. Yecke taught middle school and high school history and English in Virginia and Wisconsin. From 1995-1998 she was a member of the Virginia State Board of Education. From 1998-2001 she served as Virginia's Deputy Secretary of Education, and for the following two years she was the Commonwealth's Secretary of Education. In 2002, she was the Director of Teacher Quality and Public School Choice at the U.S. Department of Education, and Senior Advisor for the USA Freedom Corps. In 2003 she was appointed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty as Commissioner of Education. Shortly after her appointment, Dr. Yecke went right to work:

She oversaw the creation and implementation of new academic standards in language arts and math, and the creation of standards in science and social studies, in the most inclusive and open public process ever undertaken in this state.

With the establishment of the Commissioner's Advisory Council and a series of working groups, Dr. Yecke continues to seek advise from the public on education policy issues.

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