Honors to Edina Schools

success_go_get_it_marketing-school-business-idea-21696.jpgIt is the responsibility of the school board to set the direction for our schools.  They have been developing a strategic plan over the last two years and gotten input from all sectors of the Edina community.  The overall goal says “the mission of the Edina Public Schools, working in partnership with the family and the community, is to educate each individual to reach their full potential.”

On November 19, 2019 the Edina School Board voted (4-3) to add Honors classes to the High School and Middle Schools.  These steps will add options for our kids to take enriched classes throughout their academic career.

Over the last 2 years, 322 students, who were Edina residents, have left Edina schools for other schools.  Each departure cost the Edina schools about $8,500 per student.  That is over $2,700,000.  While losses are reduced by allowing students from other school districts to enroll in Edina, that is still a big fiscal hit for the school district.  The major reason students departed Edina was for rigorous academics.  This policy hopes to keep more resident students staying home

I commend the school board for getting the best information available and making this decision.

What changes

In the High School, this policy adds honors classes in 9th and 10th grade English which do not exist currently.  Edina is the only school out of 37 comparable metro schools without an enriched option. 

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A Prescription for a Winning Republican 2020 platform

GOP should launch ‘Middle Class Capitalism’ and ‘American Families First’

By Willis Krumholz

Willis_Krumholz_Nov_2019.jpgWe need to make clear that we stand for strong families and a financially sound middle class.

We need to promote middle class and working class wage growth and real return on savings.  This means ending policies that redistribute wealth to the rich, that encourage inflation or drive down interest rates.  We should stand for

  • Balanced budgets
  • Sound monetary policy.

We need a new antitrust push.  Pro competition, not anti-business. Too little of the American economy is subject to healthy competition.

We need to stand behind “Made in America” and the hiring of U.S. workers.

  • Support a tax policy that rewards making things in America. Offset the vulnerability of blue collar workers in the manufacturing sector to “free trade” deals with countries with lower wage labor. 
  • Make Trump’s small business tax cut permanent (only the corporate cuts were permanent).
  • Cut the payroll tax (half of which is paid by employers)
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Avoiding Future Conflicts of Interest at the Edina School Board

Contract_coffee-cup-deal-1076815.jpgThe role of the Edina School Board is to represent the interests of the citizens of Edina and the school children in the Edina Public Schools. The board is also to make sure Edina meets the standards set by the Minnesota Department of Education. It is not to represent the teachers union, or the administration.

The Edina Teachers Union recently endorsed 3 candidates for the school board because they are “Union Friendly”. At the last election they spent thousands of dollars mailing postcards supporting their endorsed candidates. From their point of view this makes perfect sense. After all, the Edina School Board votes on contracts with the union.

There has been a budget shortfall every year in the recent past. The board is faced with decisions on what programs or services to cut. There is a conflict of interest between what the Teachers Union desires and the needs of the students of Edina.

To avoid that conflict of interest, I ask that all union-endorsed school board candidates pledge to abstain from voting on Teachers Union contracts.


Recommendations for Bloomington Mayor and City Council

Bloomington_Valley_View_Community_Center.jpgMayor and city council candidates need to be evaluated based on how they would govern. We support candidates that have been willing to be open and truly listen to the residents of the city. We have grown increasingly concerned with the degree to which decisions in Bloomington have been made behind closed doors.

Bloomington’s City Council has approved initiatives that increase the role of government and increase city expenditures, like organized trash collection and (it appears) mega-sized community centers. They have rejected legitimate requests of citizen groups that these decisions be put to referendums. Even when the city council chartered a citizen panel to advise them on the Hyland Greens golf course, they picked probably the least favored recommendation and moved to sell off some of the land for development.

In Bloomington, it is time for a new approach to governing the city. It is time for a change in the make-up of the City Council.
We recommend Ryan Kulka (Mayor), Brian Clemens (At-Large), Al Noard (District 1) and Susan Woodruff (District 2).

For more information on these candidates and their positions, CLICK HERE . This link also provides information on the Bloomington School Board races.


Recommendations for Non-Partisan Races

Voting_Day_and_sticker.jpgCity Council and School Board races have been touted as non-partisan races, as if the recommendations of political party organizations somehow compromise the independence of the candidates. Yet partisan groups, like Edina Indivisible, and organizations with a strong vested interest, like Teachers Associations and Public Employee Unions, have been free to release their preferences without a murmur of concern.

It is time to recognize when local races cease to be non-partisan. In those races, it is appropriate for the views of local conservative groups like the SD49 Republicans to be heard.

In the Edina School Board race, that time has certainly come. In separate announcements, Education Minnesota/Edina (the Edina teachers union) and the Senate District 49 Democrats both issued recommendations. And they are for the same three candidates.

It is more than ironic when, for the second election cycle in a row, the Edina Teachers Union has chosen not to endorse former teachers. This year, they passed over Linda Friede, a recognized education intervention specialist and former math teacher.

As the curriculum in the Edina School System has become politicized, so now has the election. We stand with the parents who are questioning why Edina’s education standing in Minnesota has gone from 1st to 10th. Unlike the DFL, we don’t support a school board that is a cheerleader for the administration. We believe that the board should govern the administration.

Our recommended candidates believe that data on academic performance needs to be open and available, and decisions need to be driven by what clearly works.

The following article "Good Intentions, Bad Results" explains our recommendations on the Edina School Board race. Please also CLICK HERE for more on each candidate's positions.


Good Intentions, Bad Results Lead to Edina Board Recommendations

In the election for Edina School Board, I will be voting for the candidates who

  • For_Newsletter_School_Scrabble_pexels-photo-256428.jpegbelieve that Edina Schools should focus on helping each student become the best they can be.
  • support grouping students in classes according to their abilities and allow the teachers to set the pace for their students.

I will be voting for Sarah Patzloff, Linda Friede, and Lou Nanne.

Why?

In 2013 the Edina School Board adopted a policy of “All for All”. There was, and still is, an education gap in Edina schools. One key focus of the plan was “looking at all district work and initiatives through a lens of racial equity”.

While the goal was noble, it did not work. State test scores (MCA) are one measure of academic achievement. 8th grade math scores ranked South View middle school as the number 1 middle school in Minnesota in 2008. In 2017 it was the 37th best school. MCA test results for 10th Grade Reading declined from 1st in 2013 to 19th in 2018. The test changes every year so there is some variability in results each year. The ranking of Edina Schools dropping relative to other Minnesota schools is very concerning because everyone takes the same test.

Another way to look at academic performance is to evaluate students to see if they are at, below, or above grade level. In 2017 65.6% of students were at or above grade level in math. In 2019 only 49.1% of students were at grade level in math. Reading had 63.5% of students at or above grade level in 2017. That declined to 59.0% in 2019.

All of the focus on racial equity has not improved the scores of those it was meant to help. All groups have declined.

So what happened? The purpose of education is to grow each individual toward their full potential in order to pursue their dreams. Previously classes had been organized by student’s abilities. The “All for All” program, in the search for racial equity, classes have a mix of abilities. This made the job of our great teachers, much more difficult.

How can you push and challenge the high achievers without leaving everyone else behind. Conversely how do you set the pace where the bottom 1/3 of the class really learns the material, without boring other students.

We need to go back to a focus on educational excellence, not racial equity.  Sarah Patzloff, Linda Friede, and Lou Nanne are committed to achieving education excellence in Edina schools.

 


Hundreds Attend Protect Kids Rally at the Capitol

For_Newsletter_crowd_at_Sept_22_Protect_Kids_rally.jpgHundreds of Minnesotans, including many from SD49, attended the Protect Kids Rally September 22 at the Capitol. There was no coverage / reporting on the event from the Star Tribune or Pioneer Press, but the Mille Lacs News and this week's Alpha News provided information about the attendees, speakers, and the issues. The Child Protection League offered this Press Release on the Rally, which they organized, and estimated the crowd size as close to 800.


Six Years Ago: Lessons of Detroit’s Bankruptcy

Detroit_bankruptcy_abandoned_bldg.jpgAs we prepare for the 2020 elections, we should reflect again on the tragedy of Detroit’s bankruptcy (July 18, 2013). Then MN GOP Chair Keith Downey’s “Three Lessons” from that event sound a warning for MN now. As explained below, Detroit’s failure was due to 1) High Taxes, 2) One-Party Rule and 3) Corruption.

It is telling to consider whether our Minnesota DFL governor and House legislators learned anything.

On July 18, 2013, the city of Detroit, Michigan, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. It was the largest municipal bankruptcy filing in U.S. history by debt, estimated at $18–20 billion. Detroit is also the largest city by population in the U.S. history to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy.

From a peak of 1.8 million in 1950, the population of this once-great city was reported by The New York Times to have dropped by July 2013 to "700,000 people, as well as to tens of thousands of abandoned buildings, vacant lots and unlit streets."

Six years ago, Keith Downey reflected on three lessons policymakers should take away from the Detroit bankruptcy. Let’s look at Keith Downey’s Three Lessons :

Lesson 1 -- High Taxes. The most important lesson is understanding why Detroit failed. Governments receive most of their revenue from taxes. Taxes come from the local economy. A tipping point was finally reached when well-meaning liberal policies outweighed the taxpayer’s ability to pay and government leaders could not say “no” to the spending. Eventually, enough businesses and taxpayers left the core city, decimating their tax base until they could not pay for all of the things they wanted the government to fund.

The question for Minnesota policymakers is “Where is our tipping point?” Over the past six years, Republican leaders in the legislature have forced first Gov. Dayton and then Gov Walz to say “no” to some of the spending the DFL has sought in order to balance the budget without raising the taxes. We all know now how this has turned out – low unemployment, more jobs, increased funding for schools, higher consumer confidence and increased revenues to the state treasury.

With one exception. In 2013, when the DFL had a majority in the House and Senate, nobody in state government said “no.”

 

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Water Park at the Mall of America in the News in August

MOA_Water_Park_(2).JPGIn an article in the Sunday, August 11 edition of the Star Tribune (front page, Minnesota section) entitled, “Owner uses MOA as project collateral”, Eric Roper wrote about the 49% stake in MOA that the Triple Five Group pledged as collateral to secure the construction loan for their New Jersey mega-mall. “This leveraging of MOA came as a surprise to Bloomington officials, concerned that the megamall makes up about 10% of the city’s tax base.

The article goes on to quote Baltimore-based retail consultant Nick Egelanian, “They are making a huge bet on American Dream and obviously putting part of the Mall of America at risk in it.” He noted that the Triple Five Group is banking on high-profile attractions to stimulate retail sales, and there’s no agreement among the industry experts he consults with about whether it will work.

Eric Roper noted that “tax dollars would pay $50 million for a parking ramp and skyway to the mall, as well as up to $8 million to clean up the site.” The article did not make clear if these figures include the $20 million that the city has paid as its share of the water park design effort. It is important to note that Bloomington tax payers are also being asked to consider more than $50 million for a community center.

In an opinion piece in the Thursday, August 15 edition of the Star Tribune (front page, Business section) entitled, “Financing for MOA water park is baffling”, Lee Schafer wrote, “Taking on the risk of a big entertainment venture isn’t a typical burden for local governments anywhere … The problem is that the water park – which would cost about $250 million just for construction – does not seem viable with private market money.”

Schafer points out, “if you need a nonprofit to own what sure looks like a private entertainment business that can’t be financed in the private capital markets, you can simply rent one. If you need a public agency to issue the bonds that will finance the deal, one of those can be rented, too.” So the City of Bloomington is proposing to have a Wisconsin agency issue tax-exempt bonds to finance an entertainment project in Minnesota owned by a special-purpose affiliate of a Louisiana non-profit. And Bloomington would back all of this up by imposing additional sales and use taxes at the Mall of America that would kick in to cover any shortfall in cash flow.

So more taxes may have to be paid by tenants at the Mall of America to help attract.more visitors to the Mall of America. As Lee Schafer concludes, “Is everybody really OK with all this?”


Franzen Ignores Concern with U of M Funding

49Franzen.jpgIn May, one of our readers wrote to Sen. Melisa Franzen asking why the Minnesota legislature was approving more funding to the University of Minnesota, especially when the University openly intended to give money to non-citizens for tuition. Calling out the University administration statement that it is “dedicated to supporting student success, regardless of a student’s immigration status,” the reader asked Franzen why Minnesota taxpayer dollars should be spent to help non-citizens.

Almost three months later, the reader received a response from Sen. Franzen that appears to miss the point. “I understand the importance of continuing to provide strong funding to the University,” she wrote. “I am in support of increasing the accessibility of higher education to those residing in Minnesota first and also bringing talent from outside of our state.”

Franzen then seemed to acknowledge an obligation to respect the source of state-provided funding. “I am in full support of the funding for the U of M as long as it is accountable to taxpayers of the state.”

Then, turning on a dime, she concluded, “These funding decisions benefit our state as they lead to a more educated workforce fostering economic growth and encouraging businesses in our state to stay and hire local.”

Does she not realize it is a crime for an employer to knowingly hire an illegal immigrant, even if that new hire has a U of M diploma?



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