Date: August 12, 2003
Subject: Back to school

I have been hitting the books over the last several days, revising our draft standards in preparation for posting them in our threaded discussion area. It has felt a little like going back to college. At one point I had the following books and materials open next to my computer: Minnesota Legislative Manual, which includes the full text of most of our founding documents, including the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Northwest Ordinance, and even earlier documents such as the Magna Carta; a study guide for Advanced Placement (AP) Government and Politics; and numerous e-mails and other articles. In college, however, we with non-education majors didn't have to worry about a myriad of criteria for writing good standards, in addition to the subject matter.

Speaking of college, due to the apparent convergence of destiny on Saturday, November 1, not only has a Social Studies committee meeting moved to that date, but so has the University of Minnesota Homecoming football game. Thanks to my dedication to the Academic Standards Committee, I will probably miss Gopher Homecoming for the first time since 1982. If you're at the meeting, look for a class of 1982 alum who looks as though he lost his the way to the game.

Beth Aune, Director of Academic Standards & Professional Development, sent us (members of the science and social studies committees) some tips on conducting public meetings that comply with state law, including info on copying and viewing of committee information. The latter is based on legal advice given to MDE regarding the Minnesota Data Practices Act:

In compliance with the MN Data Practices Act, committees will handle requests for copying and viewing of information according to these guidelines—

A. Copies of documents distributed to members of the committees should be made available to the public (citizen observers who ask for them) at the same time. Once distributed, they are public documents.
B. Copies of information such as wall charts or brainstorming charts (that will not be transcribed but are for discussion only) can be requested but do not have to be transcribed. Citizen observers are welcome to make their own notes of the discussions.
C. Members of the public who request documents that committee members do not have at hand should place the request in writing, and copies will be sent within a reasonable time (within two weeks). The law provides that there will be charges for photocopies and staff time for such requests. Requests should be sent to Marsha Davis, MN Dept. of Education, 1500 Highway 36 West, Roseville, MN 55113-4266.