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Session Summary

June 9, 2003

The repeal of the Profile will have a profound impact on schools in the state. That makes this session historic.

Implementation:
The legislation creates a phase-out/phase-in process for schools and students to move from the current 24 grad standards to the new graduation standards. The districts may transition immediately to the new system for all graduating classes, provided that they also offer the old graduation standards as an option for those students who registered for or began ninth grade under those standards.

School districts must have all graduating classes in the new graduation system no later than the 2007-2008 school year. The first students to be required to graduate under the new system would be those who are in seventh grade this year, the 2002-2003 school year. The students entering 9th grade in 2004 will be required to register under the new requirements.

This is the same phase-in system that was implemented for the Profile of Learning. The 2003 graduating class was the first class that was required to graduate under the Profile that began as a requirement for incoming 9th graders in 1998.

Health curriculum is now an elective. State Arts standards can substituted with local Arts standards. Career and Technical is not a state requirement for graduation. It must be at least offered as an elective.

Your local school districts may no longer say, "The Profile made us do it." Project learning is a teacher (or district) option, and may be used with discretion. National standards, built in to many of the textbooks, are not required by the state. Stay closely attuned to your local district policies.

Testing Parameters:
The Profile repeal also included testing parameters prohibiting the measurement of students' values, attitudes and beliefs. This, too, is an important accomplishment.

What else happened this session?
1. "Tax Free Businesses"
passed, but it became controversial. Often called the JOBZ bill, legislators quizzed us over how this relates to School-to-Work. "STW isn't mentioned in the bill," many of them pointed out.

The JOBZ bill is a step toward a planned system of favored industries and businesses for our state. It aligns economic planning, preferred businesses, and job training in the schools.

An example of how the state economic planning system ties into STW ( or School-to-Careers) is the Minneapolis school district. Its Small Learning Communities (SLCs) are a well-developed STW system. In 8th grade, all Minneapolis students must apply for one of the SLC's, thereby determining their career paths.

The Minneapolis district STW website makes it clear that their career pathway system is tied to the larger economic planning system: "...to plan STC (School-to-Careers) initiatives within an economic development framework"

"Minneapolis School to Career Transitions (Career Clusters/Focus): "Through the STC Transition Consortium, city-wide partnerships with business and industry, post-secondary institutions, city government, etc. have been developed. In planning the local system, considerable emphasis has been placed on school district and city data related to employment projections, workforce development needs, city/district demographics..."

"As a result redesigned career-cluster programs at several Minneapolis high schools have been developed or are in various stages of development."

Though the JOBZ bill passed, the end of the session attention we were able to focus on it created opportunities to inform legislators that these are NOT simple "tax free zones." The Chairman of the Tax Committee wants to conduct oversight hearings on the new JOBZ program at the beginning of the 2004 session. Thank you for your important calls and emails to legislators. We believe we went as far as it was possible to go with this issue in such a short time.

2. The legislature brought Minnesota's testing requirements into compliance with the federal No Child Left Behind law. Those annual tests in reading, math and science must be aligned with the new standards. Maple River Education Coalition opposes the federally required annual testing and reporting. The promise of education money from Washington, DC, however, kept legislators from considering not complying. Unfortunately, the demands of federal law will only mushroom without end. Stay tuned for much more of Washington mandates on Minnesota schools.

Other items abandoned in the frenzy of final negotiations were disappointing, but they remain "unfinished business."

A. The cost/benefit analysis of implementing No Child Left Behind in Minnesota;

B. The American Heritage Act, which requires that students have the opportunity to learn about historical documents important to our country's development;

C. A requirement for schools to obtain informed consent from parents before intrusive surveys may be administered to students.

If you want your local school board members to begin receiving our updates, send us their e-mail addresses.

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Watch for the Maple River Education Coalition Annual Fall Conference

Put us on your calendar. Watch for details.

October 10th and 11th
Minneapolis

"A Nation at Risk"

Speakers to include Michael S. Coffman, Ph.D, author ("Saviors of the Earth"), nationally recognized speaker, and authority on environmental and educational issues,.

Congressman Tom Tancredo of Colorado, former member of the House Education and Workforce Committee (unconfirmed, but likely).

When Senator Steve Kelley refused to include the Declaration of Independence as a required foundation of Minnesota's new academic standards, when he stated on the floor of the Senate that the Declaration of Independence had "no legal standing," he was reflecting the new education philosophy.

We will tackle the worldview of the education system, the direction that the massive education restructuring is taking our country -- the shift to careers training, the undermining of truth and patriotism. How does this worldview impact our state, our communities, our schools and our nation?

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