Date: July 20, 2004
Subject: Education Commissioner Alice Seagren
Governor Pawlenty has appointed Rep. Alice Seagren as Minnesota's next education commissioner. Seagren is a six-term representative, chair of the House Education Finance Committee, and member of the House Education Policy Committee. Legislators will probably be relieved to have one of their own at the helm of the state Department of Education, after the often controversial and unconfirmed term of Cheri Pierson Yecke. But is this good news for education reform advocates? In the Legislature, Seagren had a cooperative relationship with DFL members, including Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee. There will no doubt be statements of her support of Gov. Pawlenty's education reform agenda, but some activists in the social studies standards debate feel that the former member of the Bloomington school board gave up too much too soon to the Minnesota Council on the Social Studies ("Kelley standards") crowd. Seagren's distinguished service in the Legislature should buy the new commissioner a generous honeymoon with her former colleagues and Education Minnesota, and a swift and low-key confirmation.