Category Archives: K-12

It’s a system that puts the needs of adults first

This story on the front page of today’s Strib caught my attention:

Scholarship foundation drops Edison: A funding and control dispute leads a scholarship donor to Minneapolis schools to pull money from Edison High.

school_sketch.jpgThe systemic factor not mentioned in the story: the adults in the system — teachers, administrators, and school board members — are now all uncomfortable and having to work harder. The Edison principal already was showing his displeasure with the ‘disruption’ of external money. Now it’s reverberating throughout the district.

It’s another example of what those Carleton College grads, Joe Nathan (Director, Center for School Change at the Humphrey Institute) and Ted Kolderie (Senior Associate, Center for Policy Studies) refer to when critiqueing the traditional public school system:

“It’s a system that puts the needs of adults first.”

This isn’t a critique of the individual teachers or administrators or school board members. They all want to put the needs of the kids first and often succeed at it. But in the long run, the system is usually stronger and defeats the best intentions.

I wonder to what extent the people, both inside and outside the system, who are working to improve the schools owned and operated by the Northfield School District see this and factor it into their strategic plan?

School Board to Produce Nude Calendar?

calendar_girls.jpgAt a social gathering last weekend, I heard a rumor that the Northfield School Board was producing a calendar. I inquired if it was intended as a fund-raising effort, along the lines of the women who posed in support of the Leukaemia Reasearch Fund. My inquiry was neither confirmed or denied.

Further rumors suggested that Noel Stratmoen will be pictured in an athletic pose, screened by a timely basketball, with the title “Rebounding for Resources” and that Paul Hager will be captured in a theatrical pose, covered by a well-placed top hat, with the caption “Singing for Schools”. Requests for details from Wendy Smith were met with “Wouldn’t you like to know…”. An alleged spokesperson for Kari Nelson quoted “I’d rather take off my clothes than go through another levy referendum”.

I hope that the calendars will be available at Bookfellows, Fine Groove, Monkey Reads, and River City Books, although, of course, by request only. This morning I heard another rumor that the Board is setting up a website: Well, it sure beats a bake sale.

Why I’m voting for the school district levy referenda


The Northfield CQE held a Vote Yes! wine-tasting event last night at the James Gang Hideaway in support of the proposed operating levy and capital projects referenda on Nov. 7. Left photo (click to enlarge): Anne Maple and Julie Pritchard speaking to the crowd; right: HideAway owners Joan and Jim Spaulding. (Full disclosure: I work on their website. Joan will soon be a blogger.)

See the album for the event for two dozen more photos.

I’ve decided to vote yes on both referenda, and not just because I consumed a lot of free food and wine on the premises of a client. I still don’t think the School Board has been as transparent as I’d like them to be about all the factors that have contributed to the current financial crunch. They’re hoping that the public will see the legislature and external events as the only culprits. I’d like to see a little “in retrospect, we board members could/should have done X and Y…” I don’t think that would hurt their cause — that kind of transparency would sure win me over.

But I do believe the near-doomsday scenarios on program and staff cutbacks if the first levy question doesn’t pass. My LG colleague and co-host Ross Currier made the prediction, based on conversations he’d had with local businesses, that the failure of the levy could have a longer-term economic impact on the area. Fewer families would be inclined to relocate here. Fewer businesses would be inclined to expand or locate here. Prospective employees may be less inclined to accept jobs here.

Now if I could just get a couple of Board members and the Superintendent blogging…

Locally Grown: show for week of 10.01

IMG_4153w800.jpgOur guest this week was Kari Nelson, Chair of the Northfield School Board, discussing the upcoming levy referenda.

(If you’re reading this on Monday, October 2, the district is hosting another forum at the high school auditorium tonight at 7 pm.)

You’ll need the latest version of Adobe Flash Player to access this content.

Click play to listen (30 minutes). You can also download the MP3 File, subscribe to the podcast feed, or subscribe with iTunes. The show airs and streams on the web on Tuesdays at 4:30 PM on KRLX 88.1 FM.

We seek your comments and suggestions. Attach a comment to this blog post, use the Contact Us page to send us email, or submit an audio comment.

School District levy referenda: questions, issues for upcoming podcast

IMG_3921_cropped.JPGWe’ve got School Board Chair Kari Nelson on our show next week. I attended (see photos and audio) the district’s forum on earlier this week to try to get better informed about the issues. (They’re repeating the forum next Monday Oct. 2, 7 p.m. at the High School Auditorium.) Below are some of the issues I hope we address with Kari on the podcast.

If you have questions or comments you’d like us to consider for the show, attach a comment to this blog entry, send us a comment using our Contact Us page, or submit an audio comment.

Continue reading School District levy referenda: questions, issues for upcoming podcast

School district presentation on levy referenda

chris_and_kari.jpg diane_and_mike.jpg anne_and_julie.jpg
I attend last night’s presentation by the Northfield Public Schools on their upcoming levy referenda. Ten (yep, 10) citizens attended, with another ten or so staff and board members there. Photos (click to enlarge):
Left: Superindendent Chris Richardson and Board Chair Kari Nelson.
Center: Board members Diane Cirksena and Mike Berthelsen
Right: Anne Maple and Julie Pritchard of the Citizens for Quality Education

Click play to listen. 1 hour.

0 to 3:55: Kari Nelson
3:55 to 32:20: Chris Richardson
32:20 to 59:20: Question and answers. (I had more than my share of questions.)
59:20 to 60:00 Kari Nelson

I’ll have another blog post later this week in preparation for next week’s show on this issue with guest Kari Nelson, Board Chair.