I started this blog in 2003 when I was appointed to Governor Tim Pawlenty's Academic Standards Committee, under the leadership of then-Education commissioner Cheri Pierson-Yecke. That newly-appointed Commissioner Yecke restored her department's name to Education from the "Department of Children, Families, and Learning," and replaced the fuzzy, process-oriented Profile of Learning with the more knowledge-oriented state academic standards, is a testament to the sweeping, high-velocity changes made possible by the 2002 elections. In 2002, Pawlenty beat DFL candidate Roger Moe by eight points, with 80 percent of Minnesotans voting. Republicans held an 82-52 majority in the state House, while the DFL held a slim 35-31 majority in the Senate. Since then I have documented on this blog Pawlenty's persistent advocacy for meaningful education reforms.
Under a year to the end of his administration, Pawlenty this week unveiled another sweeping education reform agenda. Some of his initiatives are new, some are dusted off from previous legislative sessions, and some are being touted by the governor as an attempt to attract federal education funds, but all are consistent with his ongoing commitment to innovative education reforms. They include:
Expanded Q Comp Minnesota's Quality Compensation for Teachers — Pawlenty's signature education reform includes professional development, teacher evaluations, and a performance-based alternative pay system. In 2010, Pawlenty proposes an extension of the program to include principals and strengthening teacher preparation.
Alternative teacher licensure — providing jobs for mid-career professionals and providing "real world" prospective to classrooms would be a win-win from this proposed new pathway to teaching. If you have any doubts about how well this could work, take a look at a similar approach used by Teach for America.
Easing the expansion of successful charter schools — nationally-proven programs like KIPP (Knowledge Is Power Program) would be encouraged by Governor Pawlenty to expand in Minnesota by streamlining the charter school application process for them.
In a statement, Pawlenty said, "The national education reform landscape is changing and leading reform states are adopting these kinds of changes. Eventually these measures will be enacted here, too. The only question is whether Minnesota will lead or be late to the game."