Education Conversations in the Media

As fall approaches and teachers gear up for another school year, education headlines start to creep back into the media spotlight. These community conversations and opinion pieces about our children’s future are key because they create an atmosphere for critical thinking, they spark a healthy debate on important issues and they stimulate innovative ideas to support student success.

Here is a round-up of four recent news accounts focused education reform. As the school year unfolds, we want to hear from you about trends you are seeing in the media and topics that haven’t been raised that you’d like to see addressed.

St. Paul: “Proceed with all due hast on St. Paul schools technology project

St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 13, 2013

Last fall, the citizens of St. Paul approved $9 million in new levies to improve technology in the city’s schools. The first of those improvements is taking place now.  But will the pace of change meet with approval? In this opinion piece we learn why it is important to walk before we run.

“The point: ‘We have a gap to close,’ Wilcox-Harris told us, referring to the persistent achievement gap that divides white students from their peers of color.

Without coupling the new technology with changes in instruction and a ‘focus on how a device enhances instruction and supports our teachers,’ she said, ‘it won’t have the impact we’re looking for.’”

Get Ready for ‘Disappointment,’ Political Spin With New School-Test Results

MinnPost, August 12, 2013

In this opinion piece, Hawkins takes us back to 2001 and reminds us how and why standardized tests took root. She covers the debate on the Common Core Standards and concludes by referencing the current movement afoot in Minnesota to curtail testing altogether. Hawkins provocative piece is worth a read:

“Efforts to curtail testing are on the table in the central cities, where teacher unions are negotiating contracts with their districts. The St. Paul Federation of Teachers has asked the district to scrap the legally mandated Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments and replace them with locally crafted ones. Minneapolis teachers, meanwhile, want the district to stop administering district-level tests.” 

A Five Point Plan for Higher Education

Star Tribune, August 13, 2013.

Richard Vedder directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and teaches economics at Ohio University. In this opinion piece, he offers a stunning solution to decreasing tuition costs. Vedder makes a case for scaling back federal student loan programs and eliminating loans to affluent parents.  His five point plan calls for a closer review:

“As students get ready to go to college this month, let me suggest ways to “shake up the system” and “tackle rising costs.”

Two things lead to higher prices: rising demand and falling supply. Any efficient solution to the explosion in college tuition and fees must either dampen demand or increase supply. With that in mind, here is a five-point ­federal-action plan.”


SIF 2015