Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Together(A Song for Haiti)

Minnpost reports

Moved by the news reports of suffering in Haiti after last week’s earthquake, students at the High School for the Recording Arts in St. Paul responded in the way they knew best: They wrote, recorded and posted a music video that incorporates an original song with images from Haiti.

The school’s development director, Tony Simmons states

“Everyone has been impacted by what happened in Haiti and the visuals coming out, and our students responded intimately, with a lot of conversation about how poor and desperate the Haitian peeople were even prior to the earthquake. They were able to relate to it, because many of our students live in poverty. So they decided on their own to respond in a way they they can relate to as students here,”

Watch the video.


We are broke. (A song for the dumped)

Minnesota has ran out of money. I guess there’s no big suprise there as many states have ran out of money due to increased spending and lower amounts taken in by taxes due to the recession. (both sales taxes and payroll taxes are down)

The Strib reports State may force schools to lend it $1B

In a sign of the gravity of the state’s fiscal crisis, Minnesota budget officials may force public school districts to loan the state money so that it can continue paying its bills.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s administration could withhold nearly $1 billion in state aid payments to public schools through May, to ensure the state’s checkbook doesn’t run dry, under a plan unveiled Wednesday at a legislative committee meeting.

The state already has the legal authority to do so, although it has never exercised it.

The state has never exercised it’s right to do this, but now it’s under strong consideration. That is broke. I don’t know how many times it’s been considered, but I can’t recall any. My gut instinct tells me to go get some numbers and point out the insane spending policies that have dovetailed with the poor economy and brought us to the brink of bankruptcy, but prior posts have lead me to believe that numbers just get in the way. It seems the only number people are interested in is “more”. More money for police will stop crime! Hell, we almost have this drug war won. So let’s throw some more money for prisons. More money for trains! More money for planes! More money for automobiles! More money for stadiums! More money for everything!

Well, except for anything that helps people. We don’t want to be a welfare state, after all.

Meanwhile Minnesota Public Radio’s question of the day is “How could Minnesota schools get and keep the best teachers?” To which I respond

This is a false choice as Minnesota does have the best teachers. Our teachers can go anywhere and teach and are sought after across the country.

There are multiple issues here, one is that funding keeps getting cut and the first thing to be cut along with funding are the teachers,typically the youngest and most enthused about teaching.

So often, after years of trying to get a stable job teachers simply give up and switch professions which is, in part, responsible for the average career of a teacher being 3-5 years in Minnesota.

We don’t have a teacher talent issue in this state, we do have an administration problem. Administrators that work in a revolving door world where each new big boss decides to impliment some new teaching philosophy and by the time things start to roll a new Big Boss comes to town. Wash rinse and repeat.

We also have a problem with parents that have checked out on their children, but there’s no way the state can legislate a cure for that.

We also have a problem with NCLB.

Sure, there are a lot of problems with the Minnesota Eductional System, but teacher talent is not one of them.

*Note, I am not a teacher.

Suprise, suprise the predominant answer boils down to “pay teachers more money”

I guess if we paid teachers more money the state would have more money it could withhold in order to keep things running.

Is that a system we can all get behind?

Cynical much?

Here’s a little song for our hard working gov’t officials.

Naked Award Winner – Jamie Oliver wins TED Prize


Jamie Oliver, who revolutionized how many people cook with his groundbreaking “Naked Chef” television series and cookbooks has been named the recipient of the 2010 TED Prize.  With the prize Oliver wins $100,000 to grant a wish to “change the world.”

Changing the world is nothing new to Oliver, who as a very young chef took his training in Great Britain and Italy and showed that food can be stripped down to its very essence, “Naked” and enjoyed by all.  His father owned a pub in Essex where his love of cooking began to be fostered.  He went onto Westminster Catering College and then trained in France. And after time at prestigious restaurants it was while a documentary was being filmed at the River Café where Oliver’s irreverent style and what he calls “cheeky” nature found the cameras.  Soon after “The Naked Chef” was born and Oliver became one of the newest and certainly youngest of the celebrity chefs.

jamies-america-largeBut the British kid who plays drums in a rock band didn’t just cook food. He was passionate about it, where it came from, and especially how food was affecting the youth of Britain.   With his celebrity Oliver launched a campaign to improve the food in UK school lunch programs. He filmed a multi-part documentary and worked with the British government to change policies about what was being served to the UK children in his battle to fight obesity and ensure they were eating healthier foods.

Oliver didn’t stop with school lunches, he founded the Fifteen Foundation a program that exists to help disadvantaged youth, now across Europe, assisting them to build careers in the restaurant industry. The concept is based on an apprenticeship model with a working restaurant, foundation and training program all together.  The  Fifteen program has graduated 159 students at a cost of $49,500 each through the start of 2009.

He also took his love for good food to the British television airwaves in a documentary to dramatically demonstrate how chickens live and die to reach consumers’ plates in the UK. Olivers’ “Fowl Dinners” on Channel Four has directly lead to a dramatic increase in the demand for free range chickens at grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury.

Following the chicken across the road, Oliver also launched a fight to save British pork in his series “Jamie Saves our Bacon.” Which discusses UK pig breeding and the heritage of local pork.   His other special focuses on getting people back into the kitchen. Oliver’s “Ministry of Food” shows how simple healthy cooking is just as easy as nuking frozen school-dinners-featuredinners and is an important part of a good diet; how making your own food is most often less expensive than buying pre-made, pre-assembled and pre-packaged foods. Oliver has also fought for clear and accurate food labeling in supermarkets and grocery stores in Great Britain.

Jamie has launched his own wines and foods as well as dinnerware and other products like most celebrity chefs. Unfortunately for us Yanks, the food and wines do not seem to be available in the United States yet and shipping on most of the other products is obviously spendy, but it can be well worth it.

Of course, the cookbooks are still his bread and butter,excuse the pun. In fact the Fifteen Foundation is funded entirely by an endowment from sales of one of his cookbooks. Oliver continues to come out with unique approaches to food to surprise and entertain.  His latest, Jamie’s America, includes his take on American cuisine after filming recent specials and a BBC Series in the United States.  He is also about to launch his fight against childhood obesity and toward healthy foods for children in schools across the pond to the American market in Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution USA to be aired as a television special on ABC.  You can sign Jamie’s petition for better food in US school lunches here.

As the  recipient of the TED prize, Oliver is certainly one person who use that $100,000 prize and take “One wish to change the world”, he has already done so in so many ways.

On Saint Paul Schools

In today’s Strib a retired teacher offeres up some words of advice for Saint Paul’s new district superintendent, Valeria Silva.

To sum up Steve Ford’s thoughts in a nutshell would be “Listen to teachers. Set policies and be decisive about them. Address the basics.”, but reading the opinion piece, Steve Ford: Advice for St. Paul’s new schools chief , there is a lot more going on.

I’d like to address one such topic, discipline. Mr. Ford writes,

•Address the discipline problem. Teachers know that troubled kids need more attention than they can give, that parents are too often in denial, that administrators find themselves stuck in the middle, and that we all feel frustrated, inadequate and guilty. Meanwhile, students who simply want to learn find themselves in a toxic, unproductive environment. The public education landscape is littered with failed discipline curricula. Wisdom says that it’s not so much about the curriculum itself as it is about its implementation and continued practice.

Define a policy, put it in place and enforce it. You cannot cure society’s ills; you can establish rules and consequences. Be strong.

Whenever I think about this topic the old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” comes to mind. From what I’ve heard by listening to teachers is that they spend a large amount of time dealing with discipline issues and all too often the source of the issue is problems at home. I’m not sure how any amount of school based discipline policy can correct that, especially in the time of NCLB where no matter the issues a student may have a teacher is expected to keep them in class and educate them according to the NCLB test.

One thing is certain Valeria Silva has a big job in front of her and there aren’t any easy answers to the problems that she’s inherited from the last cut and run Super Maria Carstarphen.

I wish her the best of luck and have heard nothing but good things (full disclosure my wife used to work for her) , but the people of Saint Paul are expecting results. Maybe more than usual, since it she was a “local hire”.

I’d love to hear some teachers point of view.

What do you think, can a superintendent really make much of a difference?


Talking Minnesotan – 12/18/2009

It was eerily quite in Minnesota this week. No major media brawls, no yelling at kids to get off the snowbank, no polite discussion about the weather, it was strange. All told there were maybe three words uttered in the entire 7 days, but my team of fact checkers were unable to verify they actually happened.

I suppose this is part of an inevitible shift towards texting and twittering all communications.

Though, Minnesotan Al Franken has had a few things to say in D.C. and my homies at In The Loop made this video in his honor.
Night Before Christmas (Joe Lieberman -style)

Finally, someone is speaking again. Now maybe now we can get back to the accustomed “Cold enough for ya?” and “LEARN TO DRIVE YOU MOTHERF*&$#NG SON OF A WH@RE” that usually permeates the air this time of year.

Speaking of air, The Uptake has real time Climate Conference video and check out their tweet bar for some sweet data. mmmmmm data.

Need some food-N-Booze? SOTC has Holiday Cocktails and Beyond

Have you heard that They think they found Dark Matter at the bottome of a Minnesota mine? I’m sure it’s either that or a hockey puck.

Marrina ponders beauty MeiselPic: What Your Facebook Friends Might Look Like If They Were Super-Hot Models

Want to hear something cool? Cathy Wurzer of Minnesota Public Radio brings us the Minnesota Beatle Project

a new CD that features 16 Minnesota-based artists interpreting Beatles songs. One of the more intriguing tracks in the collection is a version of “Norwegian Wood” by Jeremy Messersmith and Zach Coulter.

Sadly, I wasn’t invited to sing; even though it’s widely known no one in Minnesota can cover McCartney like I. JET! Whooooo ooooooo JET!
Though I’m not bitter,but there will be blood. Fake blood made of pistachio pudding and and boiled okra.
Using fake blood clots to train real nurses

Blood not your thing? Fair enough, not really mine either so let’s calm down Minnesota style with some Owl City.

Talking Minnesotan – 12/11/2009

MPR has a picture of a man in a snowsuit and somepeople think it’s a sasquatch sighting. And here I thought dope wasn’t legal yet.

Tis the Season and How Was The Show has The Guthrie’s 2009 A CHRISTMAS CAROL by the numbers

Minnesota’s prodigal video son Chuck Olsen is in Copenhagen for the UN Climate Change Conference and he’s live tweeting the entire event. You can also follow #COP15

The uptake has video and here’s some protestors being arrested

My favorite Chuck tweet so far?

I openly questioned the value of covering any more #COP15 demonstrations. @kk notes: Coverage is valued by people outside my jaded bubble.

Here’s Chuck’s Flickr feed, check it.

Is there still a media war going on?
Minnpost interviews “a lovable little fuzz ball” and things explode. Citypages responds with flair and hyperbole The worst of MinnPost’s Michele Bachmann puff piece and once again BrauerPower is the voice of reason

You know? What’s so civil about war anyway?

So I’m going to close out with the gents from In The Loop jamming with Kermit the Frog.

This place is going nuclear

Strib reports A push to scrap Minn. law barring new nuclear power plants gains influential supporters

Two congressmen — Democratic Rep. Tim Walz and Republican Rep. Erik Paulsen — joined leaders of labor unions and the state Chamber of Commerce in seeking the repeal of Minnesota’s nuclear moratorium.

Their public backing could put pressure on legislators from their areas considered swing votes in the debate. In April, a bid to lift the ban fell eight votes short in the House after convincingly winning approval in the Senate

Walz, who represents much of southern Minnesota, said he doesn’t discount concerns over long-term waste storage. But he said there are environmental consequences to keeping the nuclear ban in place, too.

“Without a baseload of other alternatives here in Minnesota, quite honestly we’ve encouraged people and forced them into the coal business,” he said. “We want to give them other options.”

I have no questions that ending this law and building nuclear is the right thing to do. I believe that newer nuclear technology is safer and more efficient than the plants of the past. (See Also: Wind vs. Nuclear Power: Which Is Safer?
) And it’s my understanding that we are now able to get more power due to recycling nuclear waste.

Still, that’s just like, my opinion man.

What do you think?


How do you cast an uninformed vote?

Last night Jason DeRusha asked Good Question: Should Uninformed Voters Stay Home?

It’s a constant message on Election Day: get out and vote. It’s generally accepted that the more voters, the better. The higher turnout, the better. But what about people who admit they don’t know anything about the issues or the candidates in a given race? Is an uninformed vote better than not voting at all?

A number of people chimed in with thoughtful response and many took the safe road saying they abstain if they are uninformed.

Now it’s honest time, at some point in our voting life we’ve all voted for someone that we didn’t know much about.

Hey, we’re all friends here, I’m not judging.

@howwastheshow ponied up some truth that inspired this post:

@justacoolcat @DeRushaJ’s GQ tonight was awesome. Seriously thought about it today. Was only informed on 50% of ballot, but voted on 75%.

When I was 18 I was known for picking based on a funny name or using the infinite-naughty-possibility-generator the write-in box. ( I know write-in isn’t exactly an uninformed vote, but for all practical purposes it’s a wasteful vote)

So here’s my question:



Corn Ethanol Fails Again

The strib reports MPCA hits Minn. ethanol producer with $425k penalty

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said today that the violations by Bushmills Ethanol Inc. of Atwater stretched from 2006 to 2009. They included producing ethanol beyond the facility’s permitted capacity, failure to inspect and maintain production and pollution-control equipment, and exceeding allowable wastewater discharge limits.

Because of Bushmill’s violations, the MPCA said in a statement, the cooperative of more than 400 farmers “created a situation where the facility could potentially emit more regulated air pollutants than allowed by its permit.”

I just want to know when we start to get holding the flaks, that push the BS as “green”, responsible for the damage?

This line really strikes me as interesting “could potentially emit more regulated air pollutants than allowed by its permit”

Hmmm, if only Minnesota had a group that was constantly harping about any air pollutants being bad air pollutants.

… that is if only they weren’t in bed with the Minnesota Corn Growers Association. . .

It’s Saturday so get your get-going got-on.

I’ve been outside all morning and I can tell you it’s going to be a great day in the T.C.

Need something to do?
Check out this video TwinkieJiggles sent me in the middle of the night.

Need a little more to do? Go follow to Public Media Camp or just check the Twit feed #PubCamp. Via @juliaschrenkler

Dollar, dollar bill. Ya’ll


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