The question of who will fill the last of the five school board seats up for election this fall in the South Washington County School District is expected to be decided next week.
Molly Lutz, a middle-school PTO president who had finished just five votes out of a tie for the final four-year seat on the Nov. 5 ballot, exercised her right this week to seek a free recount.
The recount will begin at 9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 21, at the Washington County Government Center.
Lutz finished just behind Sharon Van Leer, a multicultural affairs specialist, in a field that included 17 candidates. Fourteen were competing for four four-year seats; three sought a two-year term.
Van Leer and Lutz were among 11 candidates to speak at an Oct. 22 candidates forum, and were united in citing transportation decisions as points of concern.
Lutz said that the district's decision to lengthen bus service boundaries was an example of not listening to residents. Winning the community's trust was an "emerging issue," she said. Van Leer found fault with both the bus service decision and the district's new assigned seating policy for school bus riders.
The top vote-getter among four-year candidates was challenger Katie Schwartz, a full-time student and stay-at-home mom who said the board needed new faces and new ideas. Incumbents Tracy Brunnette and Katy McElwee-Stevens captured four-year seats and incumbent Laurie Johnson won the two-year term.
Voters also were asked to decide three school spending questions. Proposals to renew existing levies and to provide an additional $6.9 million in annual operating funds were approved. But the third question -- a proposal to dedicate $8 million toward the purchase of land for future building needs -- was narrowly defeated, with 5,076 votes for and 5,045 against, a 31-vote margin.
Barbara Brown, a district spokeswoman, said that district residents could petition for a recount on the ballot question. But no one had come forward as of earlier this week.
Forty-five Minnesota high schools have been named among the best 2,000 best public high schools in the U.S., according to rankings released by The Daily Beast website.
Edina High School was the highest ranked school in the state at No. 121. A total of seven local schools made the top 500: Eastview High School (302) and Mounds View High School (381), Eden Prairie High School (418), Mahtomedi High School (431), Eagan High School (452), Orono High School (453) and St. Anthony Village High School (487).
The website used six variables to rank the schools: graduation rate (weighted 25 percent), college acceptance rate (25 percent), AP/IB/AICE tests taken per student (25 percent), average SAT/ACT scores (10 percent), average AP/IB/AICE scores (10 percent), and percent of students enrolled in at least one AP/IB/AICE course (5 percent).
The best school in the country was Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky in Bowling Green, Ky., according to the rankings.
Federal legislation is set to be introduced today that seeks to expand low and middle income families' access to early education.
Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowar, and Reps. George Miller, D-California and Richard Hanna, R-NY, the legislation aims to provide access to high-qaulity, full-day preschool programs for four-year olds.
The "Strong Start for America's Children Act" was already being lauded as a signfiicant step toward making sure all children are ready for kindergarten.
Among those supporters on hand in Washington D.C today was Hennepin County Sherrif Richard Stanek who is representing the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids campaign, which is comprised of more than 5,000 law enforcement officials.
Stanek and other members of the group argue that investing in early education prevents prive.
"Nationwide, 7 out of 10 inmates in state prisons don't have a high school diploma," he said. "That’s a tough statistic. But I see the human toll every day when we arrest and lock up people who can barely read or write. But I also know that no child is destined at birth to end up in jail . . . and that we'd all much rather see kids in caps and gowns as opposed to handcuffs and jumpsuits.”
Stanek shared the stage with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the actress Jennifer Garner, both of whom urged Congress to support the legislation.
In Minnesota, early education got a big boost when legislators funded $40 million worth of early learning scholarships. Those funds are expected to begin being given to families by the end of this year.
Photo by the U.S. Department of Education
Minnesota fourth-graders are the the best in the nation when it comes to math, according to results of a nationwide test released Thursday.
Considered the best comparison of students from state to state, the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results show Minnesota fourth-graders outperform their counterparts in every state in math. Eighth graders had the fifth-best scores in math.
In reading, fourth-graders had the 10th highest scores in country while eighth-graders had the 11th highest score.
Perhaps even more notable - Minnesota appears to be narrowing the persistent achievement gap between white and non-white students.
For example, African-American fourth-graders had the fourth highest math scores on the NAEP test. In 2011, that same group of students ranked 22nd.
"Today's results are first and foremost a testament to the incredible work of teachers who know that every child matters," said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius.
Gov. Mark Dayton said the state's most recent investment in early learning scholarships and all-day kindergarten will only help improve students' performance in the future.
"These results are very encouraging, especially among our state's youngest children," he said. "I congratulate Minnesota students, educators, and parents for their hard work."
The NAEP test is given every two years to randomly selected fourth- and eighth-graders. About 3,000 Minnesota students were selected to take the 2013 NAEP test.
The results should help ease parents’ concerns after Minnesota students experienced a sharp decline in the reading portion of the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments.
State education officials chalked up the drop to the fact that the test was based on the tough, new Common Core standards.
Minnesota adopted those standards for reading but decided to forgo them for math. At the time, then-Education Commissioner Alice Seagren argued that the state’s math standards were tougher than Common Core and ultimately would lead to better academic results.
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, welcomed the improvements but warned that the test results were a “mixed bag” for Minnesota.
“We didn’t see the same improvements at the eighth grade level,” Daudt said, who credited the fourth graders’ improvement to policies put in place when Republicans ran the Legislature; policies “that really focused on third graders reading at grade level and provided literacy.”
Nationally, the results show some improvement among fourth- and eighth-grade students taking the math exam and eighth-grade students taking the reading test.
"Today’s results give me hope, as more students are performing at or above the proficient level, which tells me that they are demonstrating competency over challenging subject matter when it comes to math and reading,” said David Driscoll, chairman of the NAEP governing board. “Even though the gains since 2011 are modest, some states have notable improvements, and over time all of these improvements add up to higher achievement overall.”
The NAEP results show a persistent achievement gap between white and non-white students across the country. Florida is the only state to have narrowed the gap between black and white students at both grade levels and in both subjects.
For a deeper look at the results, click here
Education Minnesota has named Ingrid Miera, an English language support professional in the Osseo school district, as its Education Support Professional of the Year for 2013.
English language support professionals like Miera teach lessons developed by classroom teachers to small groups of students. Miera, who works at Fair Oaks Elementary School in Brooklyn Park, is known for developing special bonds with her students.
"Ingrid is everything the parent of a young English learner could want," said Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota. "She's attentive to students, inventive in her instruction and enthusiastic about her community."
Miera is active in her community, volunteering for school-sponsored family math, family literacy and multicultural nights. She has also been the chairwoman of the school garage sale, a fundraiser than helps Fair Oaks families find affordable household items and clothing.
Osseo educators have been on quite a roll this year when it comes to picking up statewide awards.
Recently, the Minnesota Association of School Administrators named Kate Maguire of Osseo as its Superintendent of the Year.