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Grandstanding about Profile doesn't help

June 16, 2003

Let it Rest in Peace!

This teacher points out that the Star Tribune, while calling the Profile of Learning "laid to rest," wants to hang on to the "best"! (June 8th, "Looking Ahead to the new Standards")

That just happens to be what people objected to about the Profile. Sorry. Mandated teaching methods (hands on learning) is now prohibited by state law. It's up to the teacher to decide how he or she will teach the academic material.

"The commissioner shall not prescribe in rule or otherwise the delivery system, classroom assessments, or form of instruction that school sites must use."

"Blending" the old Profile with the new academic standards would suit the Strib just fine,. They'd have their old Profile back, but without the bad name. Let it go, Strib, let it go!

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Star Tribune Commentary
David Rathbun: Grandstanding about Profile doesn't help

Published 06/16/2003 www.startribune.com

The Star Tribune's editorial department just can't let go. Of the Profile of Learning, that is. In the June 8 editorial "Minnesota schools," the opening line reads, "With the much-maligned, long debated Profile of Learning now officially laid to rest, Minnesotans must turn attention to its replacement." Indeed, we've had the public funeral for the Profile.

Interestingly, the concluding line of the piece says, "As the new requirements unfold, the best of the Profile's hands-on learning and the new, rigorous content-based standards should be blended." Apparently, some elements of the deceased Profile should be resurrected. But even the Best Hits of the Profile of Learning would be a hard sell.

The Profile was a package deal, conceived by interests outside the schoolroom walls. The business community was especially involved. The two major newspapers in town were devoted advocates. Even local arts organizations got on board because they got a piece of the grad standards.

Sure, in good faith teachers wrote some of the infamous packages, but they were little more than clerks serving the grand illusion of the business-state education complex.

The DFL Party backed the Profile until its final death rattle. According to a Capitol source, the Democrats kept supporting the Profile because the Republicans opposed it. Unquestionably, the diehard DFL defense of the Profile hurt the party in last year's election.

Since the Profile expenditures ran into millions and millions of dollars, some couldn't bear the thought of abandoning it. That rationale resembled the flawed thinking from the Vietnam War era: We've gone too far, spent too much money to pull out now!

All this grandstanding about education often fails to consider the one teacher working with 30 (often more) students in a room, five times each day. One of the more sinister agendas of the Profile was to teacher-proof education. The grad standards were so rigorous, so exquisitely conceived that it wouldn't matter who was teaching, every student in the state would get an equal education.

So, the Star Tribune still won't criticize the Profile, will only state the obvious -- that it was much-maligned and debated. But the new politically driven standards in Minnesota won't be the next major conflict. That is coming our way in the form of President Bush's No Test Left Behind Policy, a plan to enforce equal education on America's public schools that's guaranteed to fail many public schools.

This fraudulent federal scheme could very well spark the next civil rights crisis in the United States. But that's another story. We can only hope that the Star Tribune will forgo its nostalgia for the Profile and start doing a rigorous job exposing the folly of that policy.

David Rathbun, Minneapolis, teaches English at South High School.

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