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Star Tribune: Profile of Learning Brings Graduation Woes

June 4, 2002

In a prominent editorial, the Star Tribune steps momentarily out of its state of denial to say, "Minnesota's controversial Profile of Learning graduation standard is in trouble. The implementation is off to a decidedly rocky start." (June 4, 2002)

No kidding.

Yet these staunch advocates of total education restructuring offer nothing but full steam ahead. Their solution is for teachers and schools to jump on the bandwagon full bore. In the eyes of Profile advocates like the Star Tribune, Minnesota is simply not enthusiastic enough. The newspaper laments the unfortunate resistance that is seething and growing in Minnesota. They don't mention it, but resistance is growing across the country.

"A persistent group of mostly Republican legislators and some teachers still oppose it. Every year since it went into effect, bills have been offered to scrap it."

We wonder how the Star Tribune managed to leave parents and taxpayers out of the equation! Interesting that there's no mention of three rallies at the Capitol drawing thousands of people. There's no mention that voters are rejecting legislators who oppose the Profile on a pretty regular schedule.

(As an aside, the media plays the endorsement defeats of Sens. Kiscaden and Robertson as primarily abortion-related battles. They are not. The battles have been primarily over the Profile and education restructuring for job training. By denying the power of this issue, reporters attempt to contain its momentum.)

In this election cycle, the newspaper is doing their DFL supporters no favors by identifying that party with the Profile of Learning. The public hates the Profile of Learning. To the extent that this is an election issue, those with a history of supporting it will do poorly.

It is time to ask, what will legislators put in place of the Profile. If they replace them with "standards" to meet the federal requirements, they are headed down the very same road of destroying knowledge-based education. Mandated project learning is driven from federal Goals 2000. Transforming our schools into job training centers and minimum competencies is driven by federal School-to-Work. Career decisions in 8th grade is driven by federal Workforce Investment Act. All of the above and a radical federal curriculum are driven by the new No Child Left Behind federal law.

Make no mistake about the Profile being the fulfillment of a requirement for a single federal system. When MREdCo has testified at the legislature, we've been ridiculed by Profile proponents for even raising the subject of a federal system driving restructuring of education nationally.

This year, no one is laughing. The federal requirements have been dramatically expanded to every year from 3rd grade on! Is this the Minnesota legislature's idea? No, it is not!

This year, however, Senator Pappas, the Chair of the Senate Education Committee stated as much herself in conference committee. Speaking against accepting the House proposal to repeal the Profile, Senator Pappas stated:

"I'm really worried that we're putting at risk $200 million that we expect to get and the money we're already getting from the federal government through Title I if we don't have the standards in place...I'm just not willing to risk that."

In other words, the federal mandate is holding this system in place. Our legislators have allowed federal law to transform our schools into something the public rejects. The state has failed to defend its authority over education in our state. (See, "No Child Left Behind")

What is the alternative to the Profile of Learning? Tests drive the curriculum. Our proposed language in the 2001 legislative session would have developed a minimal level of state tests that must be knowledge based, with testing of worldview prohibited. (For a discussion of how a national test drives a radical worldview curriculum, see "The design and purpose of the NAEP."

Our proposed language would have these tests identify high academic achievement, not simply minimum competencies. The tests themselves would be made available to the public after having been administered. The tests would be selected by the district, protecting genuine local control. and could include nationally norm-referenced tests or placement tests used by post secondary institutions. (See, "A Bill for Repealing the Profile," )

Elected officials must be prepared to work with other states to develop proposals for changes in federal mandates, and in the meantime, work with the federal administration to challenge the full implementation of testing requirements and their authority to force compliance. This kind of legislative leadership has been sorely missing from the states.

Other Quotes from the Conference Committee:

Sen. Gene Pelowski, DFL- Winona:

Juniors every week spend the entire week in the House…In the debate on the Profile amendment on the floor I said many of the same things that I've said today-I received a note from one of the pages saying -"Thank you Rep. Pelowski for representing us and our viewings toward our education. Thank you." These are from 11th grade student. Now, I may not have learned much in the 26 years I've taught but I know when student voluntarily make an effort to say something, we should listen…they know there's a problem and its their education that is at stake.

Senator Larry Pogemiller, DFL-Mpls, and chief architect of the Profile:

A mother's day back I had two students who happened to be relatives show me projects that happened to be done in their school districts that were incredible. And they said to me, "Is this that Profile thing that everybody keeps talking about?" and I said, "Yes", and they said, "Thank you Uncle Larry".

View a full transcript of the Conference Committee Debate

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