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
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 • liz.flores@startribune.com

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 richard.tsong-taatarii@startribune.com 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-timedistance 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.
A “Black Lives Matter” sign in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

Lakeville schools' ban on Black Lives Matter signs prompts debate

District cites policy against staff political advocacy.
North High School Principal Mauri Friestleben, at far right, and more than 40 Minneapolis and metro-area school principals gathered last week for a �

Minnesota schools seize momentum to tackle racism, achievement gaps

Minnesota schools, reopening amid a pandemic and a national reckoning over systemic racism, are sharpening their focus on the state’s decadeslong problems with achievement gaps…
A reading teacher at Centennial Elementary School in Circle Pines colored around letters of the alphabet with kindergarten students in 2008.

Eight Minnesota schools get 'Blue Ribbon' recognition

The schools were recognized by the U.S. Department of Education for progress in narrowing achievement gaps.
The pandemic has disrupted just about every part of school but band and choir programs are making adjustments. At top, Farmington High School 10th gra

School music programs play on, despite the pandemic

From specialized masks to band practice in the gym, music programs adapt
Tracy Bockbrader guided her class on how they would be using their Google Chromebooks to partake in distance learning as part of Carlton High Schools'

As outbreaks emerge, school leaders put contingency plans to test

No sooner had classes begun when many shifted gears.
It was back to school for some students at Harvest Best Academy Tuesday in Minneapolis, but with masks, plastic barriers and other new precautions in

Minnesota students return to online, in-person classes reshaped by COVID-19

The state's traditional post-Labor Day start to the school year is anything but typical, with various distance strategies at work.
At South St. Paul Secondary, history teacher Mark Westpfahl is starting a new school year in a new school. “I know I need to adapt, and it’s hard,

Return to school comes with mix of excitement, anxiety across Minnesota

Students, teachers and families across state face academic experience like never before.
Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, seen July 30, said leaders of both public and private schools worked closely with the state to decide how

School leaders monitor COVID case counts as classes begin

While many of the state's largest districts are starting their year with remote instruction, others are combining online classes with shortened weeks at school — or fully reopening.
Tanisha Kota, 15, checked in on another student tutor over a video chat at her home in Eagan.

Industrious Minnesota students create virtual tutoring services to give back in the pandemic

Powered by volunteer teen tutors, student-created organizations are connecting struggling learners in Minnesota and around the world.
Several Minnesota school districts, including Anoka-Hennepin, are delaying the start of the academic year. In this file photo from 2018, students atte

Many Minnesota districts are pushing back the first day of school

Some won't start just after Labor Day, citing the need for more time to get ready.
Teachers held a socially distanced rally before Monday's school board meeting at Sandburg Education Center in Anoka asking for safety and equity to be

Minnesota schools make last-minute pivot to distance learning

Staffing shortages and safety concerns driving change in strategies.
All Minnesota school districts have to offer a distance learning option for students who opt not to return to the classroom during the pandemic.

Minnesota schools plan for students studying from home during the pandemic

Districts' plans vary, but many are promising parents that it will be better than last spring's "crisis mode" efforts.
South Washington County Schools selected Julie Nielsen as new superintendent.

South Washington County Schools select new superintendent

Julie Nielsen previously served in several roles for the east metro district.
School districts across Minnesota are announcing their plans to reopen for the new year. Here, students walked between the portable classrooms and the

Several of state's largest school districts plan to start year in hybrid mode

Districts across Minnesota have begun to announce their reopening plans for the new school year, with many opting for a “hybrid” blend of in-person instruction…
Fourth-grade teacher Qorsho Hassan reacted to being named Education Minnesota's 2020 Teacher of the Year during a ceremony at the State Capitol in St.

Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan educator picked Minnesota Teacher of Year

Qorsho Hassan, 30, who teaches fourth grade, will represent Minnesota in the national contest.
Children arrive for classes at Forest View Elementary, where social distancing is enforced. Kids are back to school. Sort of. In what could be a previ

How COVID-19 case rates will affect each Minn. school district's reopening plan

The state's Safe Learning Plan relies on many variables.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s plan for the fall left many decisions up to the schools.

Minnesota schools and parents brace for a scramble to the start

Teachers and districts have less than six weeks to prepare their volatile reopening plans.
The Discovery Club summer childcare program is in session at Randolph Heights Elementary in St. Paul, where a game of jacks had kids active on Thursda

Minn. plan to reopen schools needs officials to pivot quickly

Gov. Tim Walz's "Safe Learning Plan" also outlines a need for schools to maintain strict cleaning procedures, make accommodations for physical distancing and enforce near-universal mask wearing.
The "distance learning with supports" model Minneapolis is planning involves instruction and coursework happening remotely — but with school buildin

Minneapolis Public Schools plan remote start to school year

Superintendent Ed Graff said district officials want the school year to begin Sept. 8 with what they're calling "distance learning with supports," a model in which instruction and coursework would happen remotely.