Vote now on the seven school calendar concepts

At the April 30 community calendar meeting, participants identified the benefits and concerns of seven calendar concepts. At the end of the meeting, participants were asked to vote yes or no on each one (abstaining was also permitted), answering this question:

Does this calendar type have enough merit to move it forward for more consideration and "fleshing out" with specific detail and actual days?

If you were not able to attend the meeting, this calendar concepts online straw poll is your opportunity to weigh in.  You can vote yes or no on each calendar concept, or you can abstain.

The online straw poll closes at 8 am on Monday, May 13 so that results can be included in the calendar discussion by the Northfield School Board at the 7 PM meeting.

Northfield Public Schools calendar concepts straw poll

Click here to take calendar concepts straw poll.

And if you missed the April 24th 8 pm live video conference via Google Hangout Air, you can view the YouTube recording:

Do you live in/near downtown Northfield? Does the school calendar matter to you? Then your input is needed

Some news on the two Northfield-related citizen engagement projects that I’m working on:

NDDC's Ross Currier, making the roundsSchool Calendar Straw Poll
Left: my photo of the NDDC’s Ross Currier, navigating icy sidewalks last week to distribute invitations to residents who live near downtown, inviting them to a residential stakeholders meeting this Thursday, 8 pm at the Northfield Public Library. Details here.

Right: a screenshot of the Northfield School Calendar Conversation straw poll that’s now live. Details here.

Photo albums: engaged citizens and the Northfield Public School District

Back in mid-January, I took photos of people speaking at open mic at the Northfield Board of Education meeting about the proposed calendar (blog post here).  This week, I took photos of people attending the calendar conversation meeting at the High School (blog post here).  I had my consulting hat on for both events but I thought I’d blog the photos here on LoGro, adding to my collection of 15,000+ photos of Northfield-related events and scenes since 2003.

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 38 photos from the Jan. 14 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

See the large slideshow (recommended) of 32 photos from the Mar. 7 meeting, or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

A school calendar conversation with the Northfield community: back to square one

Back in early January, I blogged here on LoGro that Northfield Public Schools Superintendent Chris Richardson had hired me (with my Wigley and Associates consultant hat on) to manage the online engagement for the  ‘balanced calendar’ that was being proposed.   It never happened. Chris later wrote:

At the Jan. 14, 2013 Northfield Board of Education meeting, 26 parents, students and community members spoke with concern about the proposed change to the school district calendar structure for 2013-14. The board voted unanimously to stop consideration of a more balanced calendar for the 2013-14 school year. They directed the administration to recommend a 2013-14 calendar in an upcoming meeting based on the traditional academic year with an after-Labor Day start. In addition, the board requested that administration develop a plan to more deeply engage our community in a discussion about what kind of academic calendar will most benefit students in the future.

Instead, I worked with the District to manage the online engagement for the Transformational Technology proposal which was approved by the Board on Feb. 12.

Northfield Schools Calendar ConversationI’ve now been hired by the District to manage the online portion of a community discussion about school calendars.

I’ve got the project blogsite up and tonight, the District is hosting the first in a series of three community meetings led by Mary Grace Hanson, Director of Teaching and Learning.

(The other dates are April 2 and April 30. All meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. in the high school upper cafeteria.)

School Board Member Rob Hardy has been writing about school calendars on his Learning Curve blog.

And here’s a Feb. 27 Northfield Patch video by Supt. Chris Richardson talking about the calendar conversation:

Meetings and straw polls and chat, oh my

It’s not been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon Northfield for me.

bicycle commuters - stakeholders group meetingbuilding owners - stakeholders group meetingcommunity meeting - Transformational Technology proposal

live chat replay webinar archive transformationaltech staw poll

The face-to-face meetings and online engagement activities for both the  City of Northfield’s Downtown Parking Management plan and the Northfield School District’s Transformational Technology proposal have kept me busy this week.

Gillian Wigley, January, 2013crashed Toyota Gilly Wigley recovering at home

And to top it off, my daughter Gilly was in a serious car accident in Minneapolis earlier this week so I’ve been making daily treks to the Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) all week. As of this morning, she’s doing much better: no apparent complications from a concussion and a lacerated liver, and she doesn’t have to have surgery for her fractured pelvis. She’s moving over to the adjacent Knapp Rehabilitation Center later today.  If you know her, contact/follow her on Facebook.

Update 2/15: Gilly is now recovering at our house, camped in a bed in our living room (right photo)

An online engagement project for the Northfield Public Schools: getting feedback on the Transformational Technology proposal

The day after the ‘balanced calendar’ online engagement project for the Northfield Public Schools that I blogged about back in early January got postponed, I put my Wigley and Associates consultant hat back on and had a meeting at the Northfield Public Schools District office with Superintendent Chris Richardson and Matt Hillmann, Director of Human Resources and Technology.

Chris and Matt decided to use my online engagement services instead to get additional public feedback on the Transformational Technology proposal that’s now being considered by the School Board.

It’s happening on a blog that’s part of the District’s WordPress Multiuser platform:

Transformational Technology for Northfield Public Schools, ISD #659

Transformational Technology - Northfield Public Schools

 

Matt has been blogging about the project for nearly a year on Blogger and so we’ve imported all those posts into this new blog.  He presented the final draft of the proposal to the School Board earlier this week and the Board will likely vote on it at one of their February meetings.

Rob HardyRob Hardy has a comprehensive overview of the project with lots of links in a Northfield.org blog post titled Local Issue: iPads in the Schools.

Rob has also a post on his Learning Curve blog (“The Education of a Northfield School Board Member“) titled Transformational Technology Proposal: Paying for iPads.

And like the downtown parking management plan for the City of Northfield that I’m working on, this project with the District won’t happen here on LoGro.  So I’ve turned off comments here. If you’ve got questions about how it’s all going to work, see my blog post: How is the online engagement part of this project going to work?

Next up in the local online engagement department: a project with the Northfield Public Schools

Chris Richardson, Griff Wigley, Matt HillmannYesterday morning, I put on my Wigley and Associates consultant hat and had a meeting at the Northfield Public Schools District office with Superintendent Chris Richardson and Matt Hillmann, Director of Human Resources and Technology.

I told them to get their hair done for the meeting and that we’d also be practicing to use our index fingers for tablet use.  As you can see from the photo, my coaching was more than marginally effective.

Northfield Public SchoolsSo they hired me to help add an online engagement component to the public meetings planned this month for the proposed ‘modified balanced calendar.’   And like the development of a downtown parking management plan for the City of Northfield, this project with the District won’t happen here on LoGro. As soon as we have the blog site for it set up, I will announce it here.

And like I blogged back in December about my contract with the City of Northfield, this contract will change the nature of my blogging here on LoGro about the School District, i.e., my relationships with the District’s leaders take priority over my public opinionating about them or the District.  And I now have a conflict of interest when it comes to opinionating on District-related matters.

If I blog about anything related to the District or its leaders, the tone of my blog post will be along the lines of “Here’s something interesting. What do y’all think?” Essentially, my role will be more of a moderator. The opinionating (praise or criticism) will have to come from all of you.

Libraries in our schools and community: How much reinvention is needed?

I was surprised to read in the Dec. 25 Strib last week that Benilde-St. Margaret’s School has gotten rid of print books in its library and made it into a digital learning center: Stacks of books are history at Benilde library

Benilde libraryLeaders at the school in St. Louis Park decided against trying to duplicate what area public libraries offer. Instead, they will emphasize teaching the school’s 1,200 students to find reliable information electronically.

It is among the first schools in the state to take out stacks and transform its library into a digital learning center.

This is relevant for Northfielders, since the Transformational Technology Project at the Northfield Public Schools is moving to the next stage.

Two days later this article appeared in the Dec. 27 NY Times:  Libraries See Opening as Bookstores Close

Today’s libraries are reinventing themselves as vibrant town squares, showcasing the latest best sellers, lending Kindles loaded with e-books, and offering grass-roots technology training centers. Faced with the need to compete for shrinking municipal finances, libraries are determined to prove they can respond as quickly to the needs of the taxpayers as the police and fire department can.

… many libraries are culling their collections and adapting floor plans to accommodate technology training programs, as well as mini-conference rooms that offer private, quiet spaces frequently requested by self-employed consultants meeting with clients, as well as teenagers needing space to huddle over group projects.

This is relevant for Northfielders since A) the City of Northfield has begun a search for a new library/IT director; and B) the proposed expansion of the Northfield Public Library is likely to soon be considered by the Northfield City Council.

That NY Times article prompted this Room for Debate feature: Do We Still Need Libraries?

  • future of librariesFailing to Close the ‘Digital Divide’ by Susan Crawford, visiting professor, Harvard Law School. The demand for libraries’ limited resources has outstripped the supply of both computers and bandwidth.
  • More Relevant Than Ever by Luis Herrera, city librarian, San Francisco. Libraries are a place for personal growth and reinvention, a gathering place for civic engagement.
  • It’s Not Just Story Time and Bookmobiles by Buffy Hamilton, school librarian, Canton, Ga. An old institution is incorporating new roles: as “makerspaces,” as centers of community publishing, and as digital learning labs.
  • For Gathering and for Solitude by Matthew Battles, author, “Library: An Unquiet History.” We still need spaces for making knowledge and sharing change, and some of those, surely, we will continue to call “the library.”

Living Treasure 2013 Paul Niemisto and pals will be playing on Bridge Square tonight for Winter Walk

Paul NiemistoWinter Walk Entertainment GuidePaul Niemisto

I badgered Paul Niemisto (AKA Mr. Vintage Band Festival) into letting me take his photo today, as he and some of his pals from the newly formed Bridge Square Band will be playing on Bridge Square for Winter Walk tonight. He’s teaming up with Rob Schanilec and the gang at By All Means Graphics and the Entertainment Guide for an Open House.

Paul was recently named the 2013 recipient of the Living Treasure Award by the Arts and Culture Commission of the City of Northfield. See the Nfld News article.

Paul Krause, Dancing Sun Multimedia, alerted me to his video of Professor Niemisto’s Tuba Christmas at St. Olaf:

$35,000 and counting: It’s time to stop the outdated taxpayer subsidy to the Northfield News for City and School District public notices

Public-NoticeThere is a Minnesota state statute (Chapter 331A) requiring local units of government (cities, counties, townships, school boards) to publish public notices in newspapers, everything from minutes and agendas to tax levies, financial reports, project bids, forfeited properties, etc.

I blogged about this in early 2011 (Something Democrats and Republicans can agree on: Move public notices to the web) when there was a bill introduced at the legislature to change the law. Short description of the MN House version of the 2011 Bill:

Political subdivisions authorized to publish proceedings, official notices, and summaries on their Web sites in lieu of newspaper publication.

The bill didn’t get very far. See this 2011 MN House Session Daily story: Plan to post public notices online nixed.

I started thinking about this issue again when I saw this article in GovDelivery about the very same issue in the UK: Public notices: the case for radical reform.  So I requested information from the City of Northfield and the Northfield School District to see how much this was costing us taxpayers.

1. City of Northfield

The City of Northfield has a contract with Huckle Media LLC, the publishers of the Northfield News, to spend a minimum of $15,000 this year to publish public notices and other city-related ads. (See page 2 of the Jan. 3, 2012 minutes.)  The 2012 rate for legal ads is $13.35 per column inch.

Thus far in 2012, over $21,000 has been spent. Last year it was over $18,000.

Huckle Media 2012 Contract City of NorthfieldHuckle Media 2012 Check detail City of Northfield
The above is the 2012 documentation: 1) the 2012 contract with Huckle Media; and 2) the 2012 check detail. I have 2011 data as well.

2. Northfield School District 659

The District doesn’t have a contract with Huckle Media like the City, but just pays the legal ad rate of $13.35 per column inch. 

Northfield School District Public Notice Expenses Northfield News 2011 2012
In 2011, the District paid $14,000 to the Nothfield News, nearly all of it for publishing school board minutes. Through Oct. 15 this year, the total is $13,400. See the PDF.

3. Northfield Hospital; Rice County

A good reporter would have sought similar data from both of these bodies. If anyone reading this would like to request the info from them, I’m happy to add it to this blog post.

2011 articles present the arguments, pro and con

See:

The above articles contain many of the arguments, pro and con. 

One big issue is about government transparency, that requiring notices to be printed in a newspaper helps ensure this.  I disagree. Only a very small % of citizens are without internet access these days. (Over 85% of Northfielders had high speed internet access as of 2 years ago.) If local governments are required to post all public notices in public buildings (eg, post offices, libraries, etc) then that’s sufficient.  And the tens of thousands of tax dollars saved can then be put to better use.

A violation of the law?

State statute also stipulates that any paper that charges for subscriptions must put public notices on its website for free. Here’s the language from the Statute, Subd. 5. Posting notices on Web site:

If, in the normal course of its business, a qualified newspaper maintains a Web site, then as a condition of accepting and publishing public notices, the newspaper must agree to post all the notices on its Web site at no additional cost. The notice must remain on the Web site during the notice’s full publication period. Failure to post or maintain a public notice on the newspaper’s Web site does not affect the validity of the public notice.

The legals section page linked from the top nav bar of the Northfield News website is the same legals section used for all of Huckle Media’s newspapers in southern Minnesota. But only notices for the City of Faribault, Faribault Schools, and Rice County are listed there, an apparent violation of the law.

Our new DFL legislators

Kevin-DahleDavid-Bly

I’d like to see our new DFL legislators, Kevin Dahle and David Bly, team up with some of their Republican colleagues and get this antiquated law changed.  In 2011, then DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen and DFL Senate Minority Leader Tom Bakk were against changing the law.

Surely the combined efforts of the League of Minnesota Cities, the Minnesota School Boards Association, the Association of Minnesota Counties, and the Minnesota Association of Townships can muster enough influence to challenge the Minnesota Newspapers Association.

It has happened in other states. Follow the Legal Notice.org blog for the latest.

Downtown’s new recycling bins are a win for taxpayers and a lesson on collaboration, persistence, and civic problem-solving

Front: Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, Cliff Martin student welders Eco Gardens co-owner Howie Holt, welding coach student welder student welder

Last week, members of Northfield Transition Youth/YES (Youth Energy Summit) who worked on welding downtown’s new combination recycling/trash bins stopped by my corner office at GBM for a photo.  And they brought a few photos of themselves welding the bins with Eco Gardens co-owner Howie Holt.

In the photo on the left (L to R) are high schoolers Arlo Cristofaro-Hark, Helen Forsythe, Antonia Cristofaro-Hark, and Cliff Martin. Not pictured: Avery Swearer.  Behind them are two of the many adults who were involved in the project: George Kinney and Mary Jo Cristofaro. 

Back in July, I blogged about the arrival of the combination recycling/trash bins downtown.  Three commenters to that post told the story of how the project came to be. Northfield Councilor Betsey Buckheit wrote:

Betsey BuckheitNorthfield Transition Youth/YES developed the project to build recycling bins for downtown because, as Griff has complained, the plastic wheelie bins chained to the trash receptacles weren’t very attractive (and then they disappeared) and to encourage recycling. I believe they had a design competition, but their first design made of wood did not pass muster with the HPC. George Kinney was helping develop the project in its design/initial attempt, but I believe this was as a private citizen and not an EQC project.

The Downtown Streetscape Task Force was moving ahead to buy receptacles much like what has been created, but they cost $1500 apiece. Streetscape was willing, but that’s when Howie stepped in to say — Hey, we can do this cheaper here. I can teach kids to weld, we can cut apart old trash containers and “stretch” them with similar-looking slats. A bit more back and forth on this — keeping recycling dry is a big deal because wet paper, according to Joe Stapf, spoils the lot, so ensuring there were lids on the containers was critical. TJ Heinricy helped by providing old trash receptacles for creating a prototype. Streetscape Task Force worked out the details and is paying for the containers.

And, now they’re beginning to appear on the street. I understand from Howie that he’s got some great youth welding talent, too. The Transition youth, Mary Jo Cristafaro (another adult assistant), and Howie deserve a round of applause for their idea, persistence, and execution. Looks great; saves money.

NDDC’s Ross Currier wrote:

Ross CurrierBetsey, in addition to the much-deserving Joe Stapf and T. J. Heinricy, I think thanks, by name, are due to Bob Will, Chair of the Streetscape Task Force, Steve Edwins, Member of the Heritage Preservation Commission, and Betsey Buckheit, Second Ward Councilor, for walking down to Eco Gardens and checking out Howie’s prototype. They all went the extra mile (okay, maybe it was only half a mile) to give the local option a chance.

Although having a decision-making rubric is a great idea (it can promote fairness and efficiency), it would appear that sometimes it’s a good idea to add a little “common sense” or, for a lack of a better term, subjective valuation to the decision-making process. The decision had been made according to the proper policy/procedure and the process/organization was moving toward timely implementation when Howie basically asked, “Could you give it another minute or so?” and Joe, T. J., Bob, Steve, and Betsey said, “We can give it another minute or so”.

Understandably, it would be a challenge to municipal efficiency (in terms of time and, sometimes, money), if we essentially second-guessed every decision made by a public sector group or entity. However, in this particular example of a sometimes stumbling (or seemingly inefficient), and admittedly stop and go process, reviewing the decision, particularly double-checking both the explicit and implicit values likely to be used by the community to judge the results, before taking irreversible steps to implement the plan, resulted in a better outcome.

City of Northfield Environmental Quality Commission (EQC) member George Kinney wrote:

George KinneyWell deserved credit goes to the stalwarts of Transition Youth/YES, Mary Jo, and Mera Colling, who worked on quite a few designs over the past year and a half or more — lots of prototypes, many false starts, and I think we are so happy that the final design received everyone’s approval. TJ and Howie really came through for the group — helping to find solutions and getting the process moving. It wouldn’t have happened without their help. The group received additional support and encouragement from Northfield in Bloom and Curt Saffle of Waste Management.

As far as the EQC is concerned, we’ve been pushing for permanent downtown recycling options for probably close to 10 years, with Suzie Nakasian being the champion for several years on EQC (and then Planning Commission).

Happy to have had a hand in it.

In August, Jordan Osterman at the Northfield News did a story: Northfield youth group leads the way on recycling in parks, downtown

Thanks to the leadership of a group of Northfield High School and Arcadia Charter School students, along with the help of the community, city workers are now in the process of installing what will eventually be 28 new recycling/garbage bin combos in the downtown area and parks where no recycling bins were previously available.

In October, high school student Logan Regnier produced a video about the project and it’s up on Northfield Patch: Youth, City Collaborate on New Recycling Bins

Recycling bin video by Logan Regnier

Transformation Northfield and the election campaigns of Rhonda Pownell, Jeff Quinnell, and Dan Cupersmith

In Feb. of 2011, I published a post titled What is Transformation Northfield’s public agenda? that detailed my concerns about the local public officials who were involved with the group.

Two of the local political leaders I featured in that piece were At-large Northfield City Councilor Rhonda Pownell and Northfield School board member Jeff Quinnell.  Rhonda is running for mayor of Northfield; if she loses, she’ll retain her At-Large seat. Jeff has decided to not run again for the School Board and instead, is running for Rice County Commissioner, District 2.

New on the local political scene is Dan Cupersmith who’s running for Northfield School Board. Dan is a member of Transformation Northfield and Rejoice! Church.

1. Rhonda Pownell

Rhonda Pownell (2)I spoke with Rhonda after one of the election forums at the Cow and told her that while I was initially concerned about her connection to Transformation Northfield (TN) and Rejoice!, I was no longer worried.  Yes, she abstained on the marriage amendment vote and was the only council member to vote against the domestic partner registry ordinance this summer and I disagree with her on those issues. But those votes in my mind have been outweighed by her overall performance as a councilor and to my knowledge, she’s never spoken or acted in a way that would convey she believes God or Pastor Dan Clites are telling her what’s best for Northfield.

Am I voting for Rhonda or Dana Graham for mayor? I’m still undecided.

2. Jeff Quinnell

Jeff Quinnell (2)I haven’t followed the School Board very closely in the past four years and I have no specifics, pro or con, to say about Jeff’s performance.

It does bother me, however, that on one of his campaign websites he links to his personal Facebook profile where, if you become his ‘friend,’ you’ll see that he regularly posts Bible verses to his Wall, as well as, at times, questionable quotes for a school board member, for example:

"Education is useless without the Bible." — Noah Webster

So Jeff is still a concern to me. I’ll be voting for Galen Malecha.

3. Dan Cupersmith

Dan CupersmithDan and his wife Karianne just returned from the 23rd annual Harvest Evangelism conference in Hawaii with Dan Clites, Brett Reese (co-leaders of Transformation Northfield) and a dozen or more other Northfielders.  You can hear their testimonies in the Oct. 14, 2012 "Aloha to Transformation!" podcast, listed on the Rejoice! Weekly Sermon/Podcast page. A partial quote from Dan Cupersmith:

This is starting with the youth. One of the examples/testimonies that we saw was Valley Christian School in California, a school that was really on the down and out [garbled] and possibly being closed and now has turned around to be one of the top schools in the nation and it was all led through prayer evangelism.

Dan ClitesBrett ReeseThat may not seem like much but it’s worrisome to me, especially when you hear Brett Reese predicting that "Northfield will become a city of God" and Dan Clites proclaiming, "If you really want to change the world, you have to change the marketplace. You gotta change the atmosphere of the government, you gotta change the atmosphere of the education system…"

I will not be voting for Dan Cupersmith for Northfield School Board. I will be voting for Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, and Anne Maple.

The race for Northfield School Board: Cupersmith, Hardy, Iverson, Maple, Stratmoen

Dan Cupersmith, Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, Anne Maple, Noel Stratmoen  (Northfield Patch image)
It’s one month till the election and the race for Northfield School Board is between Dan Cupersmith, Rob Hardy, Ellen Iverson, Anne Maple, and Noel Stratmoen (top four vote-getters will serve).

If you’re looking for an online venue to discuss the race with your fellow Northfielders, this is it.

See the Northfield Patch article, Election 101: Meet Your School Board Candidates

Patch has compiled basic biographical information about this year’s five school board candidates. Click on their names for more information.

Close the gap! Accelerate Northfield’s Joe Amerman says teachers need community tutors for their students

Joe Amerman Joe Amerman and Fritz Bogott Accelerate Northfield home page

I got an email last week from AmeriCorps VISTA member Joe Amerman, asking my help in raising community awareness of Accelerate Northfield which

… recruits tutors from the community and the colleges to work with children in Northfield’s public elementary schools. Founded by Rachel Matney and Fritz Bogott, the program’s aim is to use one-on-one tutoring to close Northfield’s large achievement gap.

Joe stopped by my corner office at GBM for the obligatory promo photo and then a few days later, I saw him meeting with Accelerate Northfield co-founder Fritz Bogott.  Fritz and Joe said that their big goal since they launched the project a year ago was to raise awareness among more elementary teaches so that they’d list their students’ tutoring needs on the Accelerate Northfield website.  This fall, they’ve accomplished that beyond their expectations and now they’re in need of more tutors.  See the three ways that can you help.

And see the Aug 30, 2011 article on Nfld Patch  by Myrna Mibus:  Accelerate Northfield Aims to Bridge Achievement Gap.

Save the date: May 15 high school mountain bike racing team information mtg for student-athletes & parents

Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Team blogsite CVMTBT Team Director & Assistant Coach Griff Wigley at GBM Northfield Activities Director Tom Graupmann and Assistant Coach Griff Wigley with MTB poster at Northfield High School
I’ve had my Team Director hat on this past week, putting up a new website for the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team (also a Facebook page and a Twitter feed).

I also started plastering posters around the area promoting the first information meeting for student-athletes and parents: at misc retail locations, eg, GBM; with Activities Director Tom Graupmann at Northfield High School); at ARTech High School and the ALC; and at area bike shops FIT to be TRI’d, Mike’s Bicycle Shop, and Milltown Cycles.

It should be noted that this team does not yet exist! So this meeting is for those student-athletes (and their parents) who might be interested in joining this new team.  Details:

WHEN? Tuesday, May 15, 7 pm

WHERE? the Northfield High School cafeteria

Gary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling LeagueGary Sjoquist, Founding Chair of the Minnesota High School Cycling League and QBP’s Advocacy Director, will be presenting. Head coach Sue Welch and I will be there as well.

CVMBT-poster-May15-mtg

Help spread the word by downloading and printing out this poster (DropBox link) and putting it up in public places.

The QR code in the lower right corner of the poster links to the Cannon Valley Mountain Bike Racing Team website.

Photos & video: Out of the Silence, Onto the Streets march

Out of the Silence, Onto the StreetsNorthfield area high schoolers and a group of other high school students marched down Hennepin Ave today in Minneapolis from Uptown to Loring Park in an event they titled Out of the Silence, Onto the Streets.

See my Thursday blog post for more background.

View the large slideshow of 36 photos (recommended) or SLOW CLICK this small slideshow:

Watch this 30-second video clip:

Cliff and Sofie want you Out of the Silence & Onto the Streets for a LGBT rights march on Sat. May 5

Cliff Martin and Sofie ScheuermanLocal high school students Cliff Martin and Sofie Scheuerman stopped by my office at GBM today to let me know that they and a group of other high school students are leading a LGBT march on Saturday in Minneapolis titled Out of the Silence, Onto the Streets (Facebook event page). 

From the event page:

Out of the Silence, Onto the StreetsWe believe in the safety and equality of all youth; that everyone in the classroom is entitled to a safe environment. We also believe in the importance of the youth voice. We are youth promoting the acceptance of all genders, sexual orientations and gender expressions. This march is driven by our communal beliefs, and it aims to apply our zeal by exposing people to the challenges that face the LGBTQ community. We envision creating a welcoming environment for all voices to be heard.

See this week’s Nfld News: Northfield youth to lead gay rights march

Videos:

Do Northfield area educators still use cheesy self-esteem tactics on kids?

Doonesbury, April 13, 2012
I laughed at this Doonesbury cartoon last week, thinking that the self-esteem movement was long gone.

DSC08692 copy DSC08691 copy
But then on Saturday, I saw these posters at the Byron, MN Middle School, praising Melissa and Avery for their "outstanding participation" as musicians of the week. (Notice how I’ve redacted their last names from the photos of the posters.  I’d hate to have their self-esteem damaged by this blog post.)

Do any Northfield area educators still do this type of stuff?

StarTribune article on formation of high school mountain bike racing league

StarTribune article on formation of high school mountain bike racing league in MinnesotaToday’s StarTribune South Metro Section has an article by Calvin Swanson titled: Biking for School: Minnesota plans to join five other states that offer high school-level mountain bike racing, starting with four races this fall.

The article is not yet available online that I could find so I’ve taken a photo of it. This larger version of the photo of the article makes the text somewhat readable.

I’m quoted in the article (sounding like the blue-blooded Minnesotan that I am) as I’m one of many people around the state trying to form a local team.

Griff Wigley, 62, who is trying to start a team in Northfield, said, “Yeah, it’s a little pricey because you have to have some equipment, but compared to hockey or football, which pretty much ends for 99 percent of all kids as soon as high school is over, this is a heck of a deal. Pretty much everyone in their adult life has a bicycle.”

See the Minnesota High School Cycling League website for more, as well as my blog post from last month about the kick-off event at QPB HQ.

Where have you gone, Joycelyn Elders? We’re still afraid of talking to our kids about masturbation

When I met with mama- and sex blogger Anne Sabo back in January, I asked her if she knew much about the sex education programs at Northfield area schools, and more specifically, whether educators were allowed to talk to kids about masturbation.  She didn’t know but promised to find out.

Her blog post is now up: Talk with Your Kids about Masturbation. It’s primarily aimed at parents but she also includes a section in her post about the National Sexuality Education Standards that were just released in January.

National Sexuality Education Standards 2012New national minimum standards for sex education curriculum are not going to remedy the situation. These non-binding recommendations were recently released to states and school districts in an effort to encourage age-appropriate discussions about sex, bullying and healthy relationships. Though this may seem a positive measure, the recommendations reflect the disappointingly low level of quality sex education we have arrived at today after decades of funding and promoting abstinence-only programs, though abstinence-only programs have proven highly ineffective. The standards really do capture a bare minimum.

Anne didn’t include Northfield-specific sex ed info in her blog post since that blog has a wider audience. But she’s agreed to attach a comment here on what she’s found out.

For those of you wondering about Joycelyn Elders, she was appointed Surgeon General in 1993 by President Bill Clinton. The Wikipedia entry says:

633px-Joycelyn_Elders_official_photo_portraitIn 1994, she was invited to speak at a United Nations conference on AIDS. She was asked whether it would be appropriate to promote masturbation as a means of preventing young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity, and she replied, "I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught."

Ironically, Mr. Clinton fired her.

Anne’s blog post includes this YouTube video, a hilarious scene in an episode from the TV series Weeds in which "uncle Andy gives a lesson in how to masturbate well to one of his nephews."  For those of you reluctant to watch/listen/click, I’ve included the transcript below the video, courtesy of IMDB:

Alright, listen closely. I’m not going to beat around the bush. Ha ha ha. Your little body’s changing – it’s all good, believe me. Problem now is… every time we jerk the gerkin, we get a lot of unwanted sticky white stuff everywhere, right? Right. So… First order of business – no more socks. They’re expensive, gumming up the works plumming-wise. Now you might be thinking to yourself, "But, Uncle Andy, what do I do with all that pearl jam if I can’t spew it into Mr. Sock?" Glad you asked… You can have a lovely time tugging the tiger in the shower each morning – that eliminates the need for a goo glove. But, the day is long, masturbation’s fun, so unless we want to take 4 or 5 showers every day, we’re gonna need some other options.

So let’s start with the basics. Tissues. Perfectly acceptable backstop for all that Creamy Italian. They can be rough and dry on such soft, sensitive skin and it can stick to your dick head like a fuckin’ band-aid – ouch. From there we move on to more lubricated flack-catchers – specificially, bananas. Step one: Peel the banana. Step two: Slip the peel over your Randy Johnson and start pitching. Now for extra credit, warm up the peel in the microwave. Not too hot! Serious yowza. Also, olive oil, moisturizer, honey, spit, butter, hair conditioner, and Vaseline can all be used for lube. In my opinion, the best lube… is lube. So save your allowance and invest in some soon. Alright, moving on – when you tug your Thomas on the toilet – ffft – shoot right into the bowl. In bed – soft t-shirt, perhaps a downy hand towel of your very own that you don’t mind tossing after tossing. There’s no such thing as polishing the raised scepter of love too much. It reduces stress, it enhances immune function. Also, practice makes perfect. So work on your control now, while you’re a solo artist – you’ll be playing some long, happy duets in the future. Ok – class dismissed.

Minnesota has a new high school mountain bike racing league. Help needed now to form a Northfield area club

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Libby Hurley and colleagues at the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) booth Minnesota High School Cycling League 2012 schedule Josh Kleve
The Minnesota High School Cycling League held their Kick-Off Open House at QBP’s HQ last Sunday night. About 100 people attended.

Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house Gary Sjoquist, QBP's Advocacy Director at MN High School League's open house
Gary Sjoquist, QBP’s Advocacy Director, hosted the event and presented the detailed plans in two separate sessions. Here’s the 31-minute audio:

Click play to listen or download the MP3.

Gary said that the League’s first initiative is to form a high school mountain bike racing league in here in MN. Other cycling sports might be supported at a later date but that the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (NICA) believes that mountain biking is the ‘T-Ball’ of cycling.  The League’s events will be open to individual student riders but organizers also believe that forming high school teams is the best way for students to learn the skills and how to ride safely.

Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House Minnesota High School Cycling League Kick-Off Open House
Organizers helped the attendees meet each other in geographic groups to facilitate planning. I got together with some guys from Cannon Falls and Red Wing at the meeting and we’re exploring the possibility of forming a Cannon River Valley regional team, to include those towns plus Faribault and Northfield.

On Wednesday, I discussed all this with Northfield High School Activities Director Tom Graupmann and ARTech High School teacher Joe Pahr who both expressed interest and support for the idea. It would be a club sport like the NHS ski club, with no expectations of financial support from the schools.

I’m looking for others interested in helping to get an area team formed. The immediate goal is to get interested adults to attend the Leaders’ Summit, held in Bloomington on April 21-22.

This event is for parents who want to become head coaches, assistant coaches, or ride leaders for the new league. It’s a two-day school on how to work with high school-aged youth, how to teach young riders the skills necessary to become racers, information on Wilderness Training and CPR (both required to be a Head Coach), and is part of a required curriculum to become a licensed MN league coach. We’ll also do a little skills work outside, so come with bikes, helmets, ready to ride.

Interested? Got questions? Attach a comment here or contact me.

Northfield School Board hosts a reception honoring Chris Richardson, MN Superintendent of the Year

Supt of the Year invitation IMG_20120224_062300 IMG_20120224_062327
The Northfield School Board held a reception at the Northfield Golf Club last night honoring Chris Richardson for his MASA award as Minnesota’s 2012 Superintendent of the Year. See the Oct. 31, 2011 press release on the Northfield School District’s site for details on the honor.

High School teacher Kevin Dahle was the Master of Ceremonies and spiced things up throughout with his comedian routine, eg, "I’d like to thank the decorations committee for the wonderful country club theme" and "When the reception is over, please follow last in-first out protocol for your departure" and "The cake is sponsored by the MN legislature but you can only eat 60% of it now with the rest available…"  Clever guy, that Kevin.  Even Dave Neuger got into it: "Chris is a wonderful person, hard working, extremely talented, respected by… um… ah…. let’s see… help me out here, Chris, I’m having trouble reading your handwriting."  None of those are exact quotes but close enough.

Unfortunately, I only had my crappy smartphone camera to use for photos and as you’ll see, it doesn’t do well indoors.

School Board Chair Ellen Iverson; teacher Kevin Dahle Master of Ceremonies, comedian, teacher Kevin Dahle IMG_20120223_183456 School Board Vice Chair Kari Nelson

Dave Neuger Matt Hillman, District Director of HR and Technology Jessie Montano, Deputy Commissioner, MN Dept of Education Paul Erickson, President of ATS&R (award sponsor); Chris Richardson, Gary Amoroso, Executive Director, MASAPaul Erickson, President of ATS&R (award sponsor); Chris Richardson, Gary Amoroso, Executive Director, MASA Chris Richardson, Minnesota’s 2012 Superintendent of the Year IMG_20120223_192025

Is it time to scrap the "last in, first out" model for how K-12 teachers are laid off?

Earlier today on MPR: Minn. teachers weigh in on proposed tenure shakeup

A bill making its way through the Legislature would allow school administrators to consider a teacher’s performance in the classroom, instead of just seniority, when cutting jobs. The measure would eliminate the so-called "last in, first out" approach to layoffs. Although some teachers think it’s time to shake the system up, many are opposed to any change in the long-standing system of tenure, a form of job security for classroom veterans.

Recently on MPR:

Teacher seniority, NCLB top education issues in low-key legislative session

State Reps. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, and Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville, seen here in a file photo, are key players in education issues in this year's legislative session. (MPR File Photo/Tom Weber)A state House committee will hear a proposal Tuesday that would change several rules regarding teacher seniority and layoffs.

GOP lawmakers are pushing the legislation, one of several education-related proposals they hope to pass this year.

Last in, first out?

As federal dollars expire, teachers could face a higher number of layoffs than in previous years. Should teacher performance trump seniority when choosing who gets laid off? Keri’s guests are Professor Diane Ravitch from New York University, Tom Weber of MPR News, Tim Melton of Students First and Tom Dooher of Education Minnesota.

Post traumatic event counseling: New research shows it doesn’t work and may make things worse

This week’s shooting incident in Lake City makes me glad that the Northfield School District has an Emergency & Crisis Management Plan, revised in 2010.

However, there’s one big problem with it.

Section 2.29 of the District’s plan, Post-Crisis Intervention Procedures, advises that district leaders consider interventions known as Critical Incident Stress Debriefing (CISD) or Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM).

CISM is "designed to help people deal with their trauma one incident at a time, by allowing them to talk about the incident when it happens without judgment or criticism" (Wikipedia reference).

Redirect - The Surprising New Science of Psychological ChangeIt turns out, "CISD doesn’t do what it is supposed to do and may even prolong people’s distress," according to a new book I’m reading, Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change by Timothy D. Wilson, professor of psychology at the University of Virginia. (See Timothy Wilson’s blog, follow him on Twitter, and see the book’s Facebook page.)

Neither Carleton College nor St. Olaf College have CSID as part of their crisis management plans but it’s evidently not by design, according to those I contacted. I think it’s safe to assume that if there were a traumatic event of some kind at the colleges, post traumatic event counseling would be made available.

I’ll invite some Northfield area psychologists, therapists and counselors to chime in here with their comments and questions in hopes that we all can get smarter about this issue and be better prepared should something bad happen.

Here’s an extended excerpt from Wilson’s book about CISD:

Continue reading Post traumatic event counseling: New research shows it doesn’t work and may make things worse

Walking in a dismal wonderland

ARTech students singing xmas carols ARTech students singing xmas carols
A group of ARTech students appeared outside the window of my corner office at GBM this morning. They were walking around downtown singing Christmas carols.  When I went outside to take a photo, they were singing Winter Wonderland, one of my favorites. It was already in my head, as Trailer Trash performed their version of the song last night at A Trashy Little Xmas: Walkin’ in My Winter Underwear.

Given the crappy winter weather we’ve had this week (and projected to continue through xmas), it might be good for the students to add the song Summertime Summertime to their repertoire.

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