105 Peavey Rd, Ste 116
Chaska, MN 55318
"2004 Minnesota Education Summit"
Minnesota’s Alliance for Student Achievement held its 2nd annual “Minnesota Education Summit” last week in Bloomington. Alliance membership consists of every professional education organization in Minnesota. These include the teachers union, the PTA and the various associations of school board members, principals, and administrators. In addition, Parents United appears to be the group that pulls the Alliance together. Parents United is a tax-exempt non-governmental organization in support of the education status quo, supported primarily by private foundations such as the Minneapolis Foundation.
The Alliance intends to “speak with one voice” on education policies. In years past, the natural tension between the interests of the teachers union and the interests of the school boards and administrators provided some balance to the debate over education policy and finance. This second year of the Alliance Summit unity has some potential for public backlash against what may be perceived as a single education monolith setting itself up in opposition to the taxpaying public. The consequence may ultimately create less support for public education. In any case, it is vital for parents and taxpayers to pay attention. The Summit program gave some insight.
To begin, Data Recognition Corporation (DRC) was the chief financier of the event. DRC is a “full-service provider” of “large-scale, statewide educational assessment programs”. DRC is also the testing contractor for the testing services in at least 20% of the states, including Minnesota. Minnesota’s own No Child Left Behind testing system is headed up by a manager who comes directly from the DRC.
The dominant themes of the conference were the following:
All of the above themes were driven home to a large, overwhelmingly sympathetic audience of education professionals. The idea of leaner government was a great offense to those present. The solutions to the problems of schools were clearly and emphatically laid out by former state Finance Commissioner John Gunyou. His close to the event began to resemble a political rally to throw the tax cutters out on their ears in November. He recommended the following: