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KARE11’s Boyd Huppert traveled to Somerset, WI, to see if Justin Rivard’s invention would save lives. While DC-based politicians and special interests retreat to their predictable positions, Justin applied a little American ingenuity to the school shooting crisis situation to see if he could make a difference. What he created in shop class might impact more students’ lives than anything that the politicians and special interests come up with.

The article opens by saying “The flag at Somerset High School flies at half-staff in honor lives lost in Florida. Inside, Somerset senior Justin Rivard was inspired in his shop class to try to save lives here. “I call this the JustinKase,” Justin says of his invention. “You don’t want to use it, but just in case you need it, it’ll be there. Made of steel plates and connecting rods, Justin’s device slips beneath a classroom door and latches to the door’s jam. With his device in place, Justin has yet to find a person who can push a classroom door open, including linemen from his high school football team. “You can lock a door with a lock, it can get shot out,” Justin says. “You can lock a door with this, it can’t get shot out. You can’t get around it.”

It’s time for politicians and special interests to step aside. It looks like Justin Rivard just built a better mouse trap:

What’s not to love about this invention? It doesn’t violate a person’s civil rights. Politicians can sit on the sideline and applaud old-fashioned ingenuity. Gangbangers can’t get past it.

When a shooter is stalking the hallways, the police are 5 minutes away. Justin’s device helps protects students and teachers until the first responders and law enforcement get there. Isn’t it time the politicians and the special interests got out of the American people’s way so they can fix this problem?

When a shop teacher challenged his students to build a device which could increase school safety, Justin Rivard rose to the occasion. Only 15 at the time, he researched current products and then sought to learn their strengths and weaknesses. After months of refinements, JustinKase was engineered, built, refined, and is now helping protect hundreds of students with orders meaning thousands of students in Wisconsin & Minnesota will soon be made safer due to his innovation.

Justin Rivard should get an award from the White House, Congress and others. Everyone knows there’s a problem with school safety. Justin Rivard didn’t complain that politicians weren’t protecting him or his classmates. He just started innovating until he fixed a big problem. I won’t pretend that this is the only thing that’s needed to stop mass shootings. It isn’t. The JustinKase will protect students until police arrive, though, which is a huge deal.

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Yesterday, I wrote this post, which I titled “SCSU: flunking the basics?” One of the categories I included was financial management. In that section, I talked about specific examples of financial mismanagement. While relaxing Sunday, I remembered an oldie but goodie that I’d omitted. Specifically, I’d forgotten about the Masters Degree St. Cloud State offered for a while. I wrote about it in this post in 2011.

I opened the post with a quote ‘explaining’ why Aviation had to be shut down. At the time, President Potter said that “We have very fine students in a very strong program we can no longer afford.” I found that to be more than a little dishonest. I replied to that quote by noting that the salaries for the professors for the Masters Degree in Social Responsibility was $1,218,000 whereas the salaries of the professors for Aviation was less than $300,000.

Why would the University spend that much money in salaries for a marginal (at best) victimology degree when they could’ve used that money to expand the Aviation program to include drone training? Graduates from drone training get hired almost immediately after graduation to salaries starting at $50,000 a year.

MnSCU is partially to blame for this. Specifically, former Chancellor Rosenstone is partially to blame. Several years ago, he said that he’d consider reinstating Aviation if President Potter asked for it to be reinstated. That’s a classic dodge. It was his way of not leading. Devinder Malhotra, currently the interim chancellor of ‘Minnesota State’, aka MnSCU, refuses to lead, too. The chancellors both deserve a D- grade because they haven’t lead and they haven’t solved MnSCU’s problems.

St. Cloud’s community leaders have been apathetic at best. Various leaders have praised the University for being more involved in the community. That’s fair. Unfortunately, they’ve been silent about the University’s inability to produce a well-trained workforce. The chief responsibility of SCSU isn’t to be involved in the community. SCSU’s chief responsibility is to train St. Cloud’s workforce of the future. Considering what Dick Andzenge wrote in his monthly column, there’s no way they’re meeting that responsibility. Here’s what Andzenge wrote:

My granddaughter is a college-bound senior in one of the area high schools. Since last year, she has received weekly solicitations in the form of email, fliers and postcards from universities and colleges from several universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, other universities in Minnesota, and New York. Some offer her special status consideration and include routine updates of events at the university. I asked her if she and her friends have received such solicitations from St. Cloud State University. She said she has not received anything and does not know of her classmates who did.

It’s one thing to lose a competition with another school. There’s no shame in that. Losing without a stiff fight for local students, though, that’s unacceptable.

Similarly, it’s one thing to praise the University for its civic involvement. It’s inexcusable to sit silent for years while the University doesn’t meet its primary responsibility. This pertains equally to the politicians, too. That isn’t to say that they’ve done nothing. It’s fair to say, though, that they haven’t done enough or that they haven’t been effective in changing SCSU’s direction.

Apathy and ineffectiveness are hurting SCSU. That must end ASAP.

Finally, too many of the faculty at St. Cloud State have operated in a ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude for years. Too many of them have played politics to establish cushy little do-nothing jobs. It’s time for the University to either get rid of that dead weight or to force them to teach classes. It’s time to declare ‘no more free lunches’ at taxpayers’ expense.

Towards the end of Dick Andzenge’s monthly column, Professor Andzenge wrote “My granddaughter is a college-bound senior in one of the area high schools. Since last year, she has received weekly solicitations in the form of email, fliers and postcards from universities and colleges from several universities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Montana, South Dakota, other universities in Minnesota, and New York. Some offer her special status consideration and include routine updates of events at the university. I asked her if she and her friends have received such solicitations from St. Cloud State University. She said she has not received anything and does not know of her classmates who did.”

Earlier in Andzenge’s column, he wrote “Regional comprehensive universities, such as St. Cloud State, have the clear purpose of serving university-bound high school graduates from the region in which they are located. High school students enrolling at the university do not commit to staying at the university. In fact, many of them do not. They do not pay regular tuition and therefore cannot be the solution. The expectation of transferred students from two-year colleges is also not a solution.”

This is appalling. St. Cloud State is in the midst of an eight year enrollment decline but they can’t be bothered to send a simple email to prospective college-bound high school seniors pitching their campus as a place to get an education? Why wouldn’t the University have someone tasked with talking with every high school junior or senior within a 75-mile radius of the University? Especially for a university in St. Cloud State’s predicament, isn’t this a display of utter incompetence? If it isn’t, why isn’t it?

There’s no question that President Potter’s death stunned the campus community. Still, shouldn’t the community ask what was being done in the most important functions of the University? It’s fair to say that the primary function of a university is to provide a great learning experience. What grade has the University earned in this respect? One of the worst-kept secrets in town is that some types of businesses won’t even interview a recent SCSU graduate. This isn’t true of all of the University programs. Still, it happens often enough to warrant concern.

Another important responsibility of universities is to make sound financial decisions. On this front, there’s more than sufficient evidence to conclude that SCSU has failed this responsibility. The highest-profile example of financial incompetence is the University’s lease with the Wedum Foundation. That lease has cost SCSU approximately $10,000,000 since it opened. That’s just the checks that the University sent to the Foundation. That isn’t counting the lost dorm revenue.

Another financial boondoggle was paying the City of St. Cloud $240,000 per year for 3 police officers who didn’t police the campus. The original contract was for 3 years. The sad news is that that contract was extended. It’s incomprehensible that a university that’s experiencing enrollment declines and that’s sending $1,000,000 checks each year to a foundation for rooms not getting rented would then spend $250,000 a year for something that the city is responsible for. I wouldn’t agree to that policing arrangement if the University was flush with money, much less when it’s running multi-million dollar annual deficits.

That’s before the one-time expense of rebranding. SCSU spent almost $450,000 on that project. (I still get a kick out of the fact that EMG opaquely said that LFR was responsible for the University’s negative image.) Five years later, it’s apparent that the reason why the University has a negative image is because it isn’t being run properly from a financial standpoint.

That’s before the $50,000 Great Place to Work Institute boondoggle.

As of this morning, the University is paying a professor not to teach. Instead, he’s being paid to do union work and be a political activist in the community. That’s been going on at least 3 years at $70,000/yr.

As for the community and the politicians, they’ve been invisible for the most part. Zach Dorholt was the vice-chair of the House Higher Ed Committee. He did nothing. This year’s DFL candidate, Dan Wolgamott, has talked a big game about “bringing people together.” Thus far, he hasn’t said anything about the crisis. As a real estate agent, he’s seen the drain of wealth from St. Cloud. Why hasn’t he done anything to turn SCSU around?

For that matter, why hasn’t the business community stepped forward and insisted that the University become relevant again? It isn’t like their workforce needs are being met. It isn’t like businesses are racing to buy land to build ‘value-added’ companies. When was the last time that St. Cloud built a new factory?

I’ve said this before but I’ll repeat it here. SCSU needs a turnaround artist with leadership skills. They haven’t had that in years. That shortcoming needs to stop ASAP.

After reading this email, there’s little doubt that Sartell High School’s principal, Brenda Steve, engaged in political activism on the public’s time:

From: Brenda Steve
Date: Sat, Feb 10, 2018 at 1:01 PM
Subject: Message from Gender Equality Club

Hello Sabres! This year, for International Women’s Day, Gender Equality Club is selling shirts to fundraise for Planned Parenthood! All of the proceeds will be directly donated to the charity to protect the healthcare rights of women locally and around the globe. On March 8th, Women’s Day, everyone is encouraged to wear their shirt in celebration! Thank you!

Shirts can be purchased via this link. Feel free to share the link, too! Additional donations are welcome :)

www.customink.com/fundraising/womens-day-sartell

Again, thank you!
GEC Presidents Monte Belmont & Belle LeBlanc

Here are email links to school officials:

Sartell HS Principal Brenda Steve: steve@SARTELL.K12.MN.US

Sartell Schools Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert: Jeff.Schwiebert@SARTELL.K12.MN.US

Link to contact the school board: dist-schoolboard@sartell.k12.mn.us

This is political activism. If it was nonpartisan, both pro-life and pro-choice organizations would have been listed. Further, Principal Steve would have listed the community health care clinics created through the ACA.

Taxpayers shouldn’t pay for political activism. If Sartell High School’s principal wants to be involved, that’s the principal’s right. That’s only if it isn’t taking time away from her official responsibilities.

When President Potter’s legacy solidifies, one of his biggest failures will be closing the Aviation program. This article, written years after the fact, verifies the foolishness of that decision.

The article starts by talking about a major problem, saying “As baby boomers gear up for retirement it has left the aviation industry struggling to replace positions quickly. Boeing, for example, is estimating that over the next 20 years, North America will need about 117,000 more pilots.” Next, it talks about a possible solution to this major problem, saying “Most recently, Rochester Community and Technical College announced they are looking at starting an Aviation Pilot Education Program. If the program is approved, the college says it will be designed for students to get an associate’s degree in aviation and then transfer to Minnesota State University, Mankato to finish their bachelor’s degree. Here in St. Cloud, St. Cloud State University discontinued their aviation program in 2011. The last students graduated from the program in 2014. As for the future, St. Cloud State says they are not considering bringing back the program leaving just one option for Central Minnesota students who wish to soar the sky, Wright Aero.”

Shutting down the Aviation program was stupid, both in the long- and short-term. The Aviation program was one of St. Cloud State’s anchor programs but it didn’t fit President Potter’s or Dean DeGroote’s blueprint for the future. The question isn’t whether shutting the program down was the right thing to do. The question is why the leadership team isn’t considering re-instating a successful program.

As I wrote back then, the program had a significant following. Also, the University’s costs associated with it were minimal. The simulator, for instance, was bought with student fees. When Aviation shut down, the flight simulator was sold; the cash went into the University’s general fund. (In light of the University’s ongoing financial difficulties, that isn’t surprising.)

Before the St. Cloud State University program was discontinued, on average Mavencamp says about 200 students were learning through Wright Aero. If a program through either institution was to start up again, Mavencamp thinks it would take about 5-10 years to get it to the successful point of the former St. Cloud State program.

I don’t doubt Mavencamp’s figures if the program were to be rebuilt to what it used to be. That being said, it would be foolish to not expand the Aviation program to include drone training and aerial firefighting. Those disciplines are growing new opportunities. With St. Cloud State’s declining enrollments and chronic deficits, why shouldn’t the program be re-opened and expanded?

The job opportunities in both those new disciplines are high, with jobs being virtually guaranteed upon graduation. I’ll ask the previously unasked question: why was the Aviation program shut down? Apparently, the people in charge were allergic to success.

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At a time when SJWs run most suburban schools, I had difficulty reading this post. The opening paragraph states “Last fall, the state Department of Human Rights delivered letters to 43 Minnesota school districts and charters, notifying them that — based on significant disparities in their student discipline data — they were under investigation for violating the state Human Rights Act.”

My initial reaction was that these investigations weren’t complaint-driven. If they were complaint-driven, why would the MDHR send notifications to entire school districts? Doesn’t that sound like a scattergun approach? It certainly isn’t a focused investigation.

That theory is verified by the MDHR’s Hostile Environment in Education webpage. According to the website, a “hostile educational environment (hostile environment) is created when a child is subjected to conduct that interferes with or denies the child from participating in or enjoying the benefits, services or opportunities in the school’s programs and the conduct is intimidating or abusive on the basis of actual or perceived protected class status. The Act identifies the following protected classes: race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, sexual orientation or disability.”

A later paragraph says “In assessing whether the conduct created a hostile environment, school officials should assess whether the conduct was subjectively and objectively offensive.” I’m betting that the vast majority of instances are subjective. This paragraph is frightening in the age of snowflakes:

If the school determines that a hostile environment was created, school officials should address the needs of the student who was the target of the hostile conduct and take action to stop the conduct from occurring again, which may include taking adverse action against the individuals who engaged in the harassing conduct.

Again, there’s no talk about addressing specific complaints. If you want something to be effective, it has to address specific offenses, not nebulous conditions that are as much perceived as real. This webinar video ‘explains’ how people with good intentions can still do “bad things”:

Specifically, that webinar talks about “implicit bias.” It’s a way for progressives to explain how ‘good’ people can still be racists and how we need government to protect people from good people who are subconsciously racists.

According to this website, everyone has implicit biases:

A Few Key Characteristics of Implicit Biases

  1. Implicit biases are pervasive. Everyone possesses them, even people with avowed commitments to impartiality such as judges.
  2. Implicit and explicit biases are related but distinct mental constructs. They are not mutually exclusive and may even reinforce each other.
  3. The implicit associations we hold do not necessarily align with our declared beliefs or even reflect stances we would explicitly endorse.
  4. We generally tend to hold implicit biases that favor our own ingroup, though research has shown that we can still hold implicit biases against our ingroup.
  5. Implicit biases are malleable. Our brains are incredibly complex, and the implicit associations that we have formed can be gradually unlearned through a variety of debiasing techniques.

Apparently, Commissioner Lindsey’s ‘investigators’ think that these school districts are filled with racists that don’t know that they’re racists. The first question I’d ask these people is whether they’ve visited the schools in these districts or if they’re just relying on reports from these districts. If these investigators haven’t done much in the way of investigating, then this office should be shut down or, at minimum, be dramatically transformed. As it exists right now, it’s place where SJWs bully people.

Prof. Mark Jaede’s LTE is intellectually insulting. Speaking of President Trump’s recent comments about immigration, Prof. Jaede apparently took President Trump’s statements literally. In the LTE, Prof. Jaede wrote “Our president has called black-majority nations ‘s—holes’ and announced his preference for immigrants from Norway. This is a call to return to the race-based immigration policies of 1882-1964, excluding most Asians, favoring Western Europeans, and severely limiting immigration of ‘inferior’ Southern and Eastern Europeans.”

First, the St. Cloud Times should be ashamed of themselves for publishing this content. Several U.S. senators in the room disputed Sen. Durbin’s statement. These senators insist that President Trump never used that disgusting word. Prof. Jaede, like other Democrat activists, isn’t afraid of using statements that were never spoken to win a political fight. (Think Al Sharpton using Hands Up, Don’t Shoot.)

Prof. Jaede essentially is a paid DFL activist. While it’s true that he’s professor at St. Cloud State, it’s also true that most of his time is spent working on union-related issues. That’s the euphemism used to describe union activism. Last fall, I wrote this post about some local vandalism visited upon Granite City Baptist Church. Prior to the event, Prof. Jaede used SCSU’s listserv to talk about the upcoming event:

This is political activism, something that shouldn’t be permitted while using taxpayer-funded resources. If Prof. Jaede wants to promote a political event, he should use his private email address and private email list. Apparently, that thought didn’t appeal to Prof. Jaede.

Here’s a word of advice to Prof. Jaede: If you’re going to accuse people of corrupt acts, it’s best not to be corrupt yourself.

It’s safe to say that, from a statistical standpoint, St. Cloud State has been in decline since the 2010 academic year. At the end of AY2010 FYE enrollment was 15,096. Without a change of direction, it won’t take more than 3 additional years before FYE enrollment will dip below 10,000. Community leaders and politicians that aren’t working to fix this crisis are part of the problem.

While they’re part of the problem, they aren’t the heart of the problem. They’re merely enablers. The decision-makers are the heart of the problem. What’s required is leadership and commitment to a rebuilding plan. The past 2 administrations, including the soon-to-be former administration, have managed St. Cloud State’s decline. Too much time was spent on rebranding. Not enough time was spent rebuilding. The University needs a culture change. This post is about identifying the leader that will bring about that change and his plan.

The leader’s name is John Palmer and this is part of his plan:

Place the top priority on teaching by having all Minnesota State Administrators and Minnesota State University Administrative & Academic Support Faculty teach at least one three credit class during the academic year, thus reducing the use of overload assignments and adjunct faculty. Minimize the use of reassignment for IFO Faculty to reflect teaching as the top priority of the University. Use the salary and fringe benefit savings from the two previous actions to close the gap between revenue and expense.

Closing the gap between revenue and expense is an important action but more import to the reversal of declining enrollment is the visible and promoted top priority effort on teaching and course availability. Actions will speak louder than words but it will be important to let prospective students know that SCSU has changed course and that teaching and learning is the University’s highest priority.

Use the occasion of the 150th anniversary of SCSU’s founding as the launch of the next decade of service and grow for the Normal School (emphasis on teaching) that grew up to be a University. Show the Red and Black at every High School and Community College within a 90 mile radius of St. Cloud by having the President and Provost visit each school and college twice a year. These visits will include interaction with students, teachers, staff and administrators. The visits will be in addition to regular recruiting activities of the office of Admissions staff.

Reduce international travel by faculty, staff and administrators. Reduce in and out of state travel by faculty, staff and administrators, too. Substitute electronic communication and smaller delegations for international travel. This should be done consistent with the priority given to teaching. This is another example where actions will speak louder than words.

Finally and most importantly, the new president deserves the opportunity to put their team in place. They shouldn’t have to worry about a collection of people who may not have primary allegiance to the University. To operationalize the creation of a team of leaders with primary allegiance to the future of the University, each at will employee will tender their resignation effective the day the new president begins employment thus allowing the new president the opportunity to pick their team.

This is what leadership looks like. Dr. Palmer isn’t interested in managing St. Cloud State’s financial and educational decline. Instead, he’s interested in rebuilding the University he invested 39 years of his life to.

In the past, administrations spent too much money on rebranding the University. That’s just putting lipstick on the same ugly pig. Rebuilding the University is required so students and parents know that St. Cloud State places a higher priority on teaching and educating than it puts on diversity.

It isn’t that diversity is a bad thing. It’s that touting the University’s diversity while enrollment declines is a bad thing.

The search committee can shut down. That’s partially because it isn’t likely that they’ll find anyone qualified that’s interested in this job. Dr. Palmer isn’t just qualified. He’s interested, too.

It’s time to turn this ship around.

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Anyone who’s seen Gov. Dayton’s proposed bonding bill know it’s filled with pork. Fortunately, passing it is an uphill fight. The legislature should scrutinize Gov. Dayton’s proposal for the pork that’s in it. A perfect example of this pork is that Gov. Dayton “recommends $19.901 million in general obligation bonds to make mechanical, architectural, and electrical improvements to correct safety, energy, and operational efficiency issues at the joint Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) Laboratory.” The question should be asked why the building needs $20,000,000 to correct safety issues and improve energy and operational efficiencies. That’s a ton of money on something that frivolous.

Another part of Gov. Dayton’s proposal is to spend “$2.5 million to demolish and reconstruct a maintenance building at the National Sports Center in Blaine” and to spend an additional $1,500,000 “for asset preservation for projects at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine. These projects are intended to ensure the safety and health of participants and staff using the stadium and indoor ice arena.”

These are just a couple examples of the pork thrown into the DFL’s pork bill.

Rep. Dean Urdahl, the House Capital Investment Committee chairman, issued a statement Tuesday, saying “(The governor’s) proposal (calls for spending) $600 million more than we have planned for in the budget forecast. Last session, the Legislature passed a $1 billion, geographically balanced bonding bill which focused heavily on infrastructure and transportation needs. Any bill that takes shape this year will need to follow that same blueprint.”

In other words, Republicans are insisting on tilting the Bonding Bill as much towards transportation infrastructure that will help improve Minnesota’s economy. Gov. Dayton and the DFL want to borrow money for government buildings. There’s money in the Dayton/DFL bill for fixing Como Park, university campuses and bike trails.

Here’s the question the DFL needs to be asked: Why isn’t your proposal focused on Minnesota’s priorities instead of on feel-good pork projects? Republicans are serious about what Minnesota spends money on. The DFL isn’t.

In Walter Williams’ latest column, Prof. Williams wrote “Donna Riley, a professor at Purdue University’s School of Engineering Education, published an article in the most recent issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of Engineering Education, positing that academic rigor is a ‘dirty deed’ that upholds ‘white male heterosexual privilege.’ Riley added that ‘scientific knowledge itself is gendered, raced, and colonizing.'”

Prof. Williams’ question is the right question to ask. He asked “Would you hire an engineering education graduate who has little mastery of the rigor of engineering? What does Riley’s vision, if actually practiced by her colleagues, do to the worth of degrees in engineering education from Purdue held by female and black students?”

Frankly, the value of an engineering degree from Purdue just dropped significantly, almost to the point of being worthless. If I was just graduating from high school and I was interested in getting a degree in engineering, a statement like Prof. Riley’s would immediately eliminate Purdue from my list of universities to be considered.

Let’s be clear about something. When I say let’s blacklist universities, I’m talking about private citizens telling universities that they aren’t being considered by their son or daughter, then tell them why they’re no longer being considered. If this keeps happening, one of two things will happen. Either the university will get the hint or students will steer clear of universities that don’t take academics seriously. (That’s why competition is important. If it doesn’t exist, quality drops.)

It’s time for students and parents to start officially ranking the universities. Those that take academics seriously should be spotlighted. Those that preach victimology should be ridiculed. It’s that simple.