Staff Directory 6370447

Erin Golden

Reporter | Education
Phone: 612-673-4790

Erin Golden is the statewide education reporter for the Star Tribune. She previously spent two years covering Minnesota politics and government and another two years covering Minneapolis City Hall. 

Before joining the Star Tribune, Golden covered business, city government, public safety and other topics at newspapers in Nebraska and Oregon.
Recent content from Erin Golden
Teresa Jakubowski dropped off the last students on her route Monday in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district. She has been driving a bus for nine

State's school bus drivers say shortage exposes deeper issues

On top of longstanding challenges like pay and irregular hours, they said many drivers have opted out of the field because of COVID-19-related health concerns, more frequent schedule shifts, and other pandemic-related complications.
Twin Cities Academy charter school Special Education Paraprofessional Torrean Shaw and other staffers greeted students back with hugs and high-fives o

Many Minnesota schools begin anew, shadowed by COVID

The state's largest district, Anoka-Hennepin, was among the school systems resuming classes. Many, particularly in metro-area schools, are wearing masks because of school district-imposed mask mandates.
Maneeya Leung, right, a student at Eden Prairie High School, met with a group of her classmates for an equity council meeting Wednesday.

Minnesota students brace for uncertainty, hope for normalcy

Across Minnesota, students are leaping — or trudging — into a third school year shaded by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This file photo shows a school bus outside the Minnesota State Capitol in February 2020.

Lawsuit seeks statewide mask mandate for Minnesota schools

A parents group says Walz should require masks to protect students' rights.
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller spoke at a news conference in May. AARON LAVINSKY •

Minnesota student math, reading scores drop in pandemic year

More than 20% of eligible students did not take statewide tests.
Anoka-Hennepin schools will require masks for students in kindergarten through 6th grade when COVID-19 is circulating widely in surrounding communitie

Anoka-Hennepin mandates masks for youngest students when COVID-19 spread is high

The mask requirement will be reviewed weekly.
Dr. Elizabeth Reed spoke at a school board meeting last week in favor of using masks in the Minnetonka Public Schools.

Minn. schools wrestle with mask decisions just weeks before classes start

In patchwork of last-minute decisions, more districts issue mandates.
Dylan Feddersen, from the IT staff at Big Lake High School, worked on prepping hundreds of laptops for students at Big Lake High School.

As Minnesota schools' online options grow, so do complications

Close to 100 public schools are set to open new virtual academies this fall. On that list are programs built over years of careful study and others assembled in a matter of months. A few are still making those decisions, even with the new school year just weeks away.
In this photo from June, first graders raised their hands to offer an answer during Katie Nelson’s summer school class at Vista View Elementary in B

State recommends masks in schools, but districts can decide

Minnesota officials cited rising COVID-19 case rates and the risk of spread among unvaccinated people in schools.
This file photo shows a school bus outside the Minnesota State Capitol in February 2020. More than 50 school board members in Minnesota have left thei

More Minnesota school board members resign in turbulent year

Record number have resigned in Minnesota this year amid controversies.
Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Heather Mueller spoke at a news conference in May. AARON LAVINSKY •

More Minnesota schools can continue online option, will make local choices on pandemic precautions

The state will issue guidance, but no new COVID-19 rules for schools.
Joseph Gomm

Family sues over Minnesota corrections officer's death

The relatives of Joseph Gomm say negligence contributed to Gomm's murder.
A first grade classroom at Vista View Elementary in  Burnsville during summer school.

State budget help too late to head off some school cuts

Legislature raised per-pupil spending, but districts were hurt by enrollment drops.
First grader Leilany was delighted as she and a partner looked for ways to connect string to a cardboard roll as they learned the principle of how an

Minnesota summer school programs see surge in enrollment

With in-person learning and relaxed pandemic rules, the classes could be a preview of fall.
William Bailey

William Bailey, trailblazing businessman and banker, dies at 83

"He shared with me: 'You can tear down walls or barriers one brick at a time — and you're that brick,' " said nephew Marcus Glenn.
Edina’s Uma Corniea (41) makes a pad save against Minnetonka on Tuesday night Feb. 2, 2021. Corniea turned aside 23 shots in the Hornets’ 3-2 vict

Edina's hornet mascot benched amid logo dispute

A long-running copyright dispute went public this month, when Edina announced it would pause the use of the logo after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the man who designed it.
The Eagle Ridge Academy robotics team poses with the robot used in this year's competition season.

After scoring errors, two teams named champions of Minnesota state robotics championship

Faribault High School and Eagle Ridge Academy will share this year's state title.
In this file photo from 2020, children arrive for classes at Forest View Elementary in Forest Lake.  RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII • richard.tsong-taatarii

Masks will be optional for many Minnesota students taking summer classes

Minnesota students and teachers returning to classrooms for summer school may see one clear shift in pandemic precautions: fewer people wearing masks.
In Owatonna, Minn., the Hadt siblings, from left, Riley, 14, Carter, 11, and Abigail, 7, took advantage of the weather to read outside.

Boom in online programs could reshape Minn. education

From Albert Lea to Bemidji to St. Paul, the number of public school districts and charters racing to build online academies is soaring.
In this file photo, a Duluth Denfeld High School graduating senior walked into the auditorium in May 2020. ALEX KORMANN • alex.kormann@startribune.c

Minnesota graduation rates hold steady in 2020, despite pandemic

About 84% of high school seniors graduated on time.
The Eagle Ridge Academy robotics team poses with the robot used in this year’s competition season. (Photo provided by Eagle Ridge Academy.)

Scoring error prompts confusion over Minnesota state robotics championship results

Faribault was named the winner but a scoring shake-up could shift the results.
The agreement between the families who sued and the state of Minnesota calls for requiring all metro schools to provide free busing to students from d

School integration plan awaits Minnesota lawmakers' action, may end up back in court

The case could return to court if no action is taken on a legal settlement.
Principal Anne Gattman took students’ temperatures as they arrived at St. Jerome School in Maplewood.

How the pandemic forever altered education in Minnesota

Academics collided with life challenges, but there were some triumphs — and many see more hope ahead.
Children arrived for classes at Forest View Elementary in the summer of 2020.

With an extra $75 million, Minnesota schools plan for summer classes

The new funds will help expand programs after the school year's disruptions.
Lakeville North High School.

Lakeville police: Threat that closed schools was not credible

Lakeville school activities will resume Saturday.
Many schools are facing budget deficits because of declining enrollment and effects of the pandemic, including Anoka-Hennepin. Shown is Jackson Middle

Minnesota schools brace for big budget cuts amid pandemic

Minnesota school districts are preparing to lay off teachers, drop programs and increase class sizes as they begin to feel the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their budgets.
Qorsho Hassan, Minnesota’s 2020 Teacher of the Year, teaches at Echo Park Elementary School in Burnsville.

Finalists named for Minnesota Teacher of the Year

The winner will be named at a ceremony later this year.
Students from Minneapolis schools gathered outside U.S. Bank Stadium on Monday afternoon as part of a statewide student walkout to protest against rac

Students walk out of class to protest racial injustice

The demonstrations came in response to the police shooting of Daunte Wright and concerns about racism in schools.
In this file photo from 2018, Minneapolis Schools Superintendent Ed Graff addressed the media.  ELIZABETH FLORES •

Minneapolis Public Schools to shift to distance learning for Chauvin verdict

The move comes just as some students are returning to school buildings.
Tom Shinnick

Tom Shinnick, dedicated Brooklyn Center volunteer and community leader, dies at 85

If you spent any time at community events in Brooklyn Center in the last six decades, it's likely you would have run into Tom Shinnick.You'd…
RICHARD TSONG-TAATARII Social distancing guidelines were enforced when children arrived during last summer�

With funding uncertain, schools make plans for expanded summer school

Districts want to make up for pandemic setbacks but worry about funding.
Lakeville police seek help in finding suspect in park assault

Lakeville police seek help in finding suspect in park assault

A woman in her 40s told police she was assaulted in East Lake Community Park by a man who said he needed help.
Heather Mueller, who starts April 1, said the response to the pandemic shows the school system can make major changes, like closing the achievement ga

Minnesota's new education commissioner says safe, in-person learning remains top goal

New commissioner says system showed ability to adapt quickly.
In 2015, Ramsey Middle School students made their way up a flight of stairs at the school in St. Paul.

St. Paul will consider renaming Ramsey Middle School

The community will be asked to participate.
Minnesota state law requires a review and revision of standards for each academic subject every 10 years, and social studies was due for its turn in t

Minnesota's K-12 social studies review looks to broaden class lessons

Revisions aim to include more voices and have attracted more attention than usual.
Fourth-grade teacher Kelly Brant stands in her classroom as she talks to her students who were learning remotely Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021 at Park Brook

Enrollment, funding drops challenge Minn. school budgets

Local districts are set to lose millions of dollars in state aid for the 2021-22 school year — a time when many of those missing students are expected to finally return to classrooms.
In this file photo, kindergartners at South Ridge School in Culver, Minn., lined up in their winter clothes before going outside to play during recess

Minnesota's public school enrollment drops 2% as parents explore pandemic options

Enrollment is down by 2% statewide, with bigger drops in kindergarten and the other early grades.
Students left class at the end of the day Wednesday at Jackson Middle School in Champlin.

Gov. Walz: 'It's time to get our students back in school'

Gov. Tim Walz announced that all Minnesota middle and high schools can opt to bring students back for hybrid or in-person learning as soon as Feb. 22, and all schools should offer it by March 8.
In this file photo, a student works with a computer and a calculator in Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Minn. schools fast-track plans for permanent online learning options

A rising number of Minnesota school districts are planning to make full-time online school a permanent option for thousands of students. Some school leaders are pushing hard to launch their own online schools as soon as this fall.
In this file photos, Lisa Larson read a book to her students on the first day of in-person class at Piedmont Elementary School in Duluth in September.

Teacher shortage hits schools in rural, urban districts across Minnesota

A new report finds that half of licensed teachers in Minnesota are out of the classroom.
Michael Muñoz

Rochester schools chief resigns after plagiarism accusations

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to accept Michael Muñoz's resignation, effective June 30.
A few weeks ago, Poplar Elementary School kindergarten teacher Ruth Haugstad worked with her class where she separated tables with shower curtains, du

Bloomington schools return to distance learning after COVID-19 outbreak

An outbreak of the virus among transportation staff forced the switch.
Michael Muñoz

Rochester superintendent faces new accusations of plagiarism

Michael Muñoz is under scrutiny over past communications.
Oxbow Creek Elementary school nurse Erika Bethke measured classrooms to calculate social distancing safety requirements.

Minnesota schools prepare for elementary students' return

It's like the first day of class again, but with real reasons for teachers, staff to have jitters.
Children arrived for classes at Forest View Elementary last year.

Summer school could be an option for more Minn. students this year

Some federal aid may go toward offsetting "learning loss"caused by pandemic hurdles.
From left, S’sence Adams, a fourth-grader at Friendship Academy of the Arts; Phoua Lee, a senior at Park Center High School, Brooklyn Park, and Gian

Minn. students try to navigate a chaotic pandemic school year

As students struggle with loss, they long for a return to routine. Nearing the halfway mark of the school year, school leaders are wrestling with how to get many of them back in the classroom.
Jesaias Jankowski watched as his second-grade teacher, Danielle Putzke explained how to do a math equation in class on Thursday December 3, 2020.

Minnesota schools eager for federal COVID-19 relief aid

As with the last round of stimulus funds, schools are expected to have some flexibility in deciding how to spend the money.
Educator Mila Velimirovich-Holtz taught about pollinators during a virtual field trip with first- and second-grade students from St. Peter Claver Cath

In the pandemic, field trips go virtual for Minnesota students

In classrooms or at home, students have more options for virtual tours and visits.
Jesaias Jankowski watched as his second grade teacher, Danielle Putzke, explained how to do a math equation in class at South Ridge School on Dec. 3.

Minnesota schools announce plans for elementary students' return

Several large school districts plans to reopen elementary schools.
(Left) Olivia Sharp and Elijah Seppi watched their teacher Christina Anderson explained how to finish a math problem in class on Thursday December 3,

Elementary schools in Minn. can open Jan. 18 with new safety protocols

The state will leave the decision to reopen to local school districts.
An empty classroom at an elementary school in Baltimore after closing during the coronavirus pandemic, April 14, 2020. Across the U.S., some large sch

Minnesota sticks with its school plans as pressure to reopen grows

Rising spread of COVID-19 and staffing shortages have sent more than half of Minnesota's public districts and charter schools into full-time distance learning. And there's little indication that students could be back to schools anytime soon.
Gavin Lawrence embraced his girlfriend, Chace Johnson, in between classes at South Ridge School. It is one of only a few school buildings in Minnesota

As virus rages, a few Minnesota schools still offer in-person instruction

Just 45 of the state's 500 school districts had full-time in-person classes last week.
Michael Muñoz

Rochester superintendent apologizes after plagiarizing Thanksgiving message to staff

Michael Muñoz lifted passages from several sources in letter to staff.
Lisa Larson read a book to her students on the first day of in-person class at Piedmont Elementary School on Sept. 21. Lisa Larson read a book to her

Last big school districts in Minnesota shift to distance learning

Because of pandemic-related staffing shortages, most doubt a return to classrooms until at least January.
Teacher Gretchen Polkinghorne bagged donated books at Community of Peace Academy in St. Paul. Teenage sisters donated 600 children’s books.

A Minnesota teacher's online request for children's books yields a tale of generosity

Teenage sisters in Woodbury are sharing the gift of books with hundreds of students.
In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a student looks at questions during a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School.

Minnesota schools uncertain about standardized tests amid the pandemic

In-person assessments may resume this spring if the pandemic allows.
Annette Dreier

Annette Dreier, among first to marry in Minneapolis when same-sex unions legalized, dies at 61

Anyone who worked with Annette Dreier at the Wedge Community Co-op had a good chance of finding themselves chuckling over a reminder to turn in…
Michelle Dennard

Osseo special education staff member wins statewide award

Michelle Dennard is now a nominee for the national Education Support Professional award.
Sophie Gray Spehar disinfected each table in her art classroom at Duluth’s Piedmont Elementary School in September.

Virus pushes more Minnesota schools to distance learning

A few districts have provided tentative dates for when they hope to bring students back. But many school leaders are telling parents they don't know when distance learning might end.
Wayne Kazmierczak

White Bear Lake schools superintendent gets top honor

Wayne Kazmierczak was recognized for his work on equity and leadership.
Sarah Bestul teaches at Wilshire Park Elementary in St. Anthony. Her district has asked parents to become substitute teachers.

COVID-19 has Minnesota schools scrambling for substitute teachers

Surging community spread of COVID-19 is sidelining a staggering number of teachers and school staff — and forcing many districts to shift to distance learning…

Minn. school districts that failed to pass funding measures plan for cuts

Voters in several Minnesota communities rejected their school districts’ requests for additional local funding, prompting some schools to begin planning for major budget cuts. More…
Kitchen assistants Bettie Ronning, left, and Amy Coughlin handed out school lunches to students and residents at Richfield High School on Oct. 28.

Minnesota schools step up efforts to feed their 'kiddos' amid pandemic

To provide meals to students at school and at home, schools have had to adapt.

Minnesota students cast votes in mock election

The program from the YMCA of the North aimed to demystify the voting process.
The Department of Corrections said it is investigating why the virus has spread more quickly at Stillwater than at other facilities after an inmate di

COVID-19-positive inmate dies at Stillwater prison

A Stillwater prison inmate who tested positive for COVID-19 died Sunday, becoming the third Minnesota inmate to die after contracting the virus.The 61-year-old man, whose…
Second-grade kids stood with their belongings before joining other in-school day-care kids for supervision by YMCA staffers at Rosemount Elementary Sc

Osseo, Rosemount schools plan shift to distance learning

Co-curricular athletics and activities will continue through the end of the fall season in the Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan district.
More Minnesota schools move to distance learning, prompting questions about sports

More Minnesota schools move to distance learning, prompting questions about sports

Activities, sports raise safety concerns
With many voters casting their ballots well ahead of Nov. 3, it’s harder to tell how school measures will fare at the polls, Minnesota officials say

Minnesota schools seek voter-approved funding on crowded ballots

Early voting along with the focus on the presidential election make the outcomes hard to gauge.
In August, Anoka-Hennepin teachers rallied ahead of a school board meeting at Sandburg Education Center in Anoka.

Anoka-Hennepin shifts middle, high schools to distance learning

Elementary students in the state's largest school district will remain in a hybrid format after the Nov. 4 change, made amid the rising spread of COVID-19 in the area.
Dan Knuth

Dan Knuth, Minnesota lawmaker who shaped environmental policies, dies at 75

In his six years serving in the Minnesota Legislature, Dan Knuth's expertise in hydrology and environmental issues proved to be the right background for the…
Harvest Best Academy kindergarten teacher Sarah Swanson places students at a safe social distance during reading time in her learning pod, Tuesday, Se

Pandemic pushes down Minnesota kindergarten enrollment

Enrollment is down amid the pandemic, leaving districts to wonder if students will return.
Carlton High School students stood in line for lunch in the cafeteria on Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020.

COVID surge means fewer Minnesota schools meet in-person rules

More than 500 schools reported at least one positive case in the last two weeks, and 24 school buildings had outbreaks with at least five positive cases.
An ACT exam preparation book is seen in Springfield, Ill., in this photo from April 2014.

Minnesota keeps top spot among U.S. states for ACT scores

Average score in state has remained steady recently.
Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann, pictured at a briefing in January 2020.

Minnesota reports school virus data; 7 schools have outbreaks

The state reports more than 860 cases in schools since August.
At a July news conference, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz announced the learning plan for Minnesota schools for the 2020-21 school year.

Minnesota district rejects guidelines to reopen school, then reconsiders

The Sibley East school district tried to reopen over the objections of state officials, but later reversed course.