Date: August 2, 2004
Subject: The Peacemaker

The City of Wayzata celebrated its 150th year on Saturday. It was a wonderful, small-town celebration, well-attended but not crowded. The kids and I wrote "postcards to the future" for the time capsule that will be sealed today and not opened until 2054. I took their photo next to the time capsule and the restored school bell from the first Wayzata High School. We spent the afternoon at the beach, where the antique streetcar boat Minnetonka carried passengers from Wayzata to Excelsior and back. My daughter won a free sesquicentennial pin (I had to buy mine). In the evening, we listened to two choruses perform while feasting on hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches.

Between bites of my Kempswich, I got some more local reaction to the appointment of Alice Seagren as state commissioner of education. One person referred to the new commissioner as a "peacemaker." This image seems to comfort educators and concern activists. Reform by definition is going to ruffle a few feathers. As Jesus said, "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. "

Governor Pawlenty assures us that Seagren will be the "iron fist in the velvet glove," and that his reform agenda will proceed apace. Peace and reconciliation would be good things in this state's education ecosystem at this point, but any commissioner will have to break a few eggs before she or he can make an omelet. The hard work of replacing the Profile of Learning in statute is done, but the devil is in the implementation details. A revised suite of Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments and decisions made by your local directors of curriculum and instruction, and testing and assessment, will be important influences on the direction of education in Minnesota. Vigilance will be the watchword in 2005 and beyond.