And now for something completely different

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and the Minnetonka School District have something in common. They are both thinking outside the box (outside the country in the Governor's case) for ideas to improve how schools work.

The Minnetonka School District has decided to look at five different "instructional models" to see what they can learn to improve an already high-achieving suburban district. Over eighty individuals from the district, including parents, have volunteered to participate in the Instructional Models Study process. They will be studying:

  1. Primary and Middle years International Baccalaureate
  2. Language Immersion
  3. Magnet/Specialized Programming
  4. Study of High Potential programming models
  5. Montessori and Continuous Progress
The first meeting of the entire group was on December 13. The groups will work through January and February with their final reports expected in March.

Scholar is disappointed that Core Knowledge, which was on the initial list of potential study models, didn't make the final cut. Our friends at EdWatch have warned us about the radical environmental, multicultural, and global governance elements of IB. But hooray for Minnetonka for inviting parents and the public at large into the process (and congratulations Skippers, from this Wayzata parent, on your state championship football team).

Meanwhile, up in the Great White North of Edmonton, Canada, Governor Pawlenty got a gander at that city's site-based management for schools, which allows spending and personnel decisions to be made at the building, rather than district level. He also got what the Strib called "cold water" thrown on his ideas about performance pay for teachers and fast-tracking professionals into teaching positions.

Kudos to Minnetonka and Governor Pawlenty for their innovative thinking to improve Minnesota's schools.