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The truth is finally starting to trickle out about why the ISD 742 School Board wants to build a new Tech High School. The truth is that the ISD 742 School Board is planning on renovating Tech. According to the article, the “St. Cloud school district plans to renovate portions of Technical High School to house the district’s administrative offices and welcome center if a school construction bond question passes in November.”

What?

The district, from Superintendent Jett to the School Cartel, insisted that Tech was a mess than couldn’t be renovated. The St. Cloud Education Cartel insists that we have to build a new Tech High School at a cost of $104,500,000 and renovate Apollo at an additional cost of $38,750,000.

What’s insulting is that the Education Cartel insists it’s speaking with the voice of the people. Specifically, Superintendent Willie Jett said “One of the general things (we heard) was ‘we need to know what you’re doing with Tech High School, the future of that.” I’ve gotten dozens of phone calls from people throughout the district. The most frequently asked question I’ve received have asked why we can’t renovate Tech rather than build a new school. The most frequently stated statements have said that they won’t vote for that big of a property tax increase without the District first seriously considering renovating Tech.

This Board has insisted on killing Clark Field, one of the most charming football fields in the state, and killing Tech High School. I wrote this post last fall to highlight the Education Cartel’s arrogance:

Finally, it’s time that Ms. Starling understood that lots of citizens voted against the referendum because the School Board didn’t even have the decency of telling the taxpayers what the new Tech High School would look like. They couldn’t because, according to Barclay Carriar, 80% of the building wouldn’t be designed until after the referendum vote.

That sounds like what a political machine would do. It doesn’t sound like something a citizen-oriented board would do. A citizen-oriented board would start the process over rather than seek input on the plan they’re trying to shove down people’s throats.

The Cartel is scrambling in its attempt to get what it wants after voters emphatically rejected their initial proposal. This proposal is virtually the same proposal, just a little smaller. (The first proposal would’ve cost $167,000,000. This would cost $143,250,000.) Like last year’s referendum, this year’s proposal should be rejected until all options are seriously considered.

Barbara Banaian’s monthly column highlights the arrogance of the St. Cloud School Board while highlighting the fact that the school board hasn’t examined all of the different options available with regard to Tech High School.

If I sound like a broken record on the subject, it’s because the School Board hasn’t changed its plan much. They haven’t explained why a new Tech High School needs to be built. Based on some of the comments by a school board member, it’s apparent that they don’t think they need to justify their actions.

Mrs. Banaian nails the crux of the problem when she wrote “We can all agree they can’t make do with Tech in its current condition. But should we pay to build a new high school? The proposed new Tech is slightly smaller and slightly less expensive than the one rejected in the 2015 vote. The school board and interested parties have invested time and money in a detailed design for a new building. But what have they given for the option to renovate Tech?”

Then Mrs. Banaian drops the hammer:

A scant “cost opinion” based on what contractor R.A. Morton said was “limited information.” “A complete facility assessment would be required to accurately assess the mechanical, electrical and structural conditions of the existing building. An educational assessment would be required to assess the flow, function and viability of educational programming of any renovations completed,” Morton wrote to the board June 2.

When the contractor indicates that they couldn’t do a legitimate estimate because of “limited information”, that’s proof that the School Board isn’t interested in finding out how much a Tech renovation would cost. When the Board cites a “cost opinion”, it should be rejected as worthless.

This is the same problem that Claire VanderEyk and Sarah Murphy ran into when they looked into the situation.

There’s a two-step solution to this situation. The first step is in voting no against the Tech referendum. The other step is in electing members to the school board that will actually address citizens’ questions. The School Board, as currently configured, is nothing more than a rubber stamp for the ‘education community’. We need citizen leadership, not vested special interests. This group should be voted out of office ASAP:

Eliminating the Board’s institutional arrogance is the only way to fix this problem.

This article offers proof that, for all their speechifying to the contrary, the Democrats aren’t the party of the little guy anymore.

We know that with certainty because they said no to a scholarship program that was helping minority and other low-income students escape the grinding poverty their parents endured. The opening paragraphs of the article says “Less than a month before the new school year starts, state budget cuts are hitting some parents hard. Some state-issued scholarships that allow low-income families to send their children to private schools have been revoked. Nicole Jack is looking forward to starting first grade at Our Lady of Prompt Succor, in Westwego, this fall. ‘My daughter is very gifted. She makes straight A’s, she reads beyond her grade level, so she deserves to go to a better school,’ said Nikesha Hudson.”

It isn’t surprising that Louisiana’s newly-elected governor isn’t keeping his campaign promise to not cut the scholarship program:

She was told her daughter would be placed on a waitlist, and she may be contacted at a later date if funding becomes available and the scholarship award can be reinstated. “The governor said no child would lose the scholarship because of the budget cuts,” Hudson said of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ campaign promises.

For now Hudson is considering finding a way to pay the tuition herself to avoid disappointing her daughter.

Rest assured that Gov. Edwards will return to these people to ask for their votes after cutting the budget on their highest legislative priority. It’s unfortunate that, with Democrats, it’s about the outreach, not the accomplishment.

There’s nothing new with Hillary, just like there’s nothing new under the sun with Democrats, either.

There are other programs that can be cut but this program was cut. It isn’t coincidence that this program is getting cut. The teachers unions are among the Democrats’ most consistent special interest allies. Like I said, however, there’s nothing new under the sun with Democrats. I wrote this post in March, 2009:

Last week, the Democrat-controlled House passed a spending bill that spells the end, after the 2009-10 school year, of the federally funded program that enables poor students to attend private schools with scholarships of up to $7,500. A statement signed by Mr. Obey as Appropriations Committee chairman that accompanied the $410 billion spending package directs D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to “promptly take steps to minimize potential disruption and ensure smooth transition” for students forced back into the public schools.

Sounds incredibly similar, doesn’t it? When it comes to pandering to the Democrats’ special interest allies, there’s definitely nothing new under the sun.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders were both right that the system is rigged. Sen. Warren and Sen. Sanders were both wrong, though, because they didn’t identify the Democratic Party as guilty of participating in rigging the system against those that need it most.

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For years, the Twin Cities drew high marks as two of the best cities in America to live in. They rate high in “their green spaces, culinary scene and jobs. High median incomes, low unemployment and poverty rates and affordable housing” contribute to the Twin Cities’ high ratings. Apparently, there’s a secret for the Twin Cities’ high ratings. According to this article, the secret is “you have to be white.”

Politico Magazine then adds that “Twin Cities, it turns out, are also home to some of the worst racial disparities in the country. In metrics across the board—household income, unemployment rates, poverty rates and education attainment—the gap between white people and people of color is significantly larger in Minnesota than it is most everywhere else. Earlier this year, WalletHub used government data to measure financial inequality among racial groups in each state and found that in 2015, Minnesota ranked dead last overall.”

It’s wise to take this article with a grain of salt because the article is written with a definite lefty perspective:

It seems illogical that inequality could thrive in one of the country’s most liberal states, home to past progressive icons like Paul Wellstone and Hubert Humphrey.

~~~~~

Academics, activists and researchers offer different conjectures as to how Minnesota achieved the ignominious title of “Worst in the Country,” for racial differences in wealth, status and education. Their analyses told a story of misguided attempts at desegregation, ignorance surrounding the state’s racist history and a systemic negligence that prevents communities of color from partaking in the state’s prosperity.

Actually, it isn’t difficult to imagine that there’s income inequality in the Twin Cities. Education Minnesota is a powerful lobbyist that essentially intimidates DFL politicians into following Education Minnesota’s agenda to a T. That includes DFL politicians voting against meaningful school reforms. Education Minnesota prides itself in opposing school reforms.

I wrote this post to highlight the Board of Teaching’s corruption:

Ramsey County Judge Shawn Bartsh “blasted the state’s Board of Teaching for suddenly stopping a program that allowed experienced teachers, often from out of state, to get teaching licenses through an alternate method called ‘licensure via portfolio.’ The judge ordered the agency to resume the program, as required by law.”

Many of these teachers want to teach in the inner city, where their help would help shrink the achievement gap significantly. Instead, the EdMinn-influenced Board of Teaching ignores laws it doesn’t like.

With corruption like that, it isn’t difficult to see why income inequality is so prominent in the Twin Cities. It would surprising not to find income inequality in a place like that.

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Had Donald Trump given the speech that Donald Trump Jr. gave at the Republican National Convention, the party would’ve been united by mid-February and Donald Trump Sr. would’ve locked up the nomination on March 1. The GOP presidential nominee spent most of his time projecting an image of strength. Tuesday night, Donald Trump, Jr., projected strength and policy expertise that his father hasn’t shown yet.

Early in his speech, Donald Trump Jr. said “The other party gave us public schools that far too often fail our students, especially those who have no options. Growing up, my siblings and I we were truly fortunate to have choices and options that others don’t have. We want all Americans to have those same opportunities.” The crowd immediately responded with enthusiastic applause.

The applause got louder when Trump Jr. said “Our schools used to be an elevator to the middle class, now they’re stalled on the ground floor. They’re like Soviet-era department stores that are run for the benefit of the clerks and not the customers, for the teachers and the administrators and not the students. You know why other countries do better on K through 12? They let parents choose where to send their own children to school. That’s called competition. It’s called the free market. And it’s what the other party fears.”

That was just the start of the policies Mr. Trump Jr. rolled out. The next policy goal was hard-hitting if you read Mr. Trump Jr.’s speech:

The other party gave us a regulatory state on steroids. Dodd-Frank was a thousand pages long and it’s already spun off 22,000 pages in regulations. Imagine trying to digest all that before you even open your doors for business. That doesn’t help consumers. What it does is destroy small business in favor of big businesses who can afford the vast number of lawyers and accountants needed to comply. Dodd-Frank is consumer protection for billionaires.

If Donald Trump Sr. puts Donald Trump Jr. in charge of making speeches explaining how regulators kill jobs, Mrs. Clinton won’t be able to fight that, especially in Rust Belt states, the Midwest and in the Mountain West.

Then Donald Jr. took a machete after Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy/national security credentials:

Let me tell you something about risk. If Hillary Clinton were elected, she’d be the first president who couldn’t pass a basic background check. It’s incredible.

If Donald Jr. wants a career in politics, it’s easy seeing him succeeding. Tuesday night, he fired up the crowd while telling the nation watching on TV what a Trump agenda would look like.

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According to this article, Jim Nobles, Minnesota’s legislative auditor, thinks the Board of Teaching is dysfunctional. He’s published this report, complete with findings of facts and recommendations.

One of Nobles’ finding of fact is that “the Board of Teaching (BoT) and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE)—share responsibility for licensing teachers. In general, BoT establishes requirements for teacher licensure, and MDE reviews license applications, makes licensure decisions, and issues teaching licenses.” His recommendation that “The Legislature should consolidate all teacher-licensure activities into one state entity” certainly makes sense. Sharing responsibilities doesn’t work. Both parties point fingers at the other.

When I wrote this post, I highlighted the fact that “Ramsey County Judge Shawn Bartsh ‘blasted the state’s Board of Teaching'” for “suddenly stopping a program that allowed experienced teachers, often from out of state, to get teaching licenses through an alternate method called ‘licensure via portfolio.’ The judge ordered the agency to resume the program, as required by law.”

It’s clear that the BoT and MDE aren’t solutions-oriented. The people working in those departments clearly haven’t communicated the need to simplify the licensure procedures. They’re still pointing fingers at each other instead of fixing the problem or obeying clearly written law. Further, it’s clear that they’ve let different institutions decide what out-of-state credentialed teachers must do to get licensed in Minnesota.

When the U of M requires a teacher who’s taught 12 years in another state and who has a Master’s degree to do student teaching again, that’s ridiculous. Further, when Minnesota State University, Mankato says the same teacher doesn’t need to do a semester of student teaching, something’s totally off kilter. It’s one thing for the U to require different courses than Mankato requires. It’s a different thing to require a credentialed teacher to do student teaching. That’s more than a significant difference.

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It’s impossible to go a day without finding another example of the DFL’s culture of corruption. This time, the Minnesota Board of Teaching got cited for contempt of court after Ramsey County Judge Shawn Bartsh “blasted the state’s Board of Teaching for suddenly stopping a program that allowed experienced teachers, often from out of state, to get teaching licenses through an alternate method called ‘licensure via portfolio.’ The judge ordered the agency to resume the program, as required by law.” Judge Bartsh ordered the program to resume on Dec. 31, 2015.

In his contempt order, Judge Bartsh said that “the board ‘had no excuse for not contacting’ one of the teachers attempting to get a license” adding that “the Court does not take the granting of sanctions lightly and would far have preferred [the board] to simply follow the law.”

After reading this article, it’s pretty clear that the Board isn’t interested in following the law:

Kirstin Rogers taught history and English in Utah for 12 years. She has a master’s degree and a handful of other certificates. Still, when she moved to Minnesota the state gave her only a temporary teacher’s license. She learned she’d have to do a lot of work to get a permanent one.

State law is supposed to allow experienced teachers like Rogers to submit a portfolio demonstrating their competence instead of doing coursework. But the Board of Teaching stopped accepting portfolios three years ago. The board reopened the process under a court order last month but has appealed the ruling.

Rogers contacted the University of Minnesota to see what she’d have to do to gain a permanent teacher’s license. The answer was daunting. “I would be required to student teach again,” Rogers said. “And then all these additional courses.”

Clearly, this teacher is qualified. The notion that she’d have to student teach again is silly. She taught for 12 years in Utah. What possible reason could the Board of Teaching have for not giving her a permanent teaching license? Rather than explaining their reason, they simply appealed the judge’s ruling. Instead, they stood behind political double-speak:

Board director Erin Doan won’t talk specifically about the case, but she said the state needs to be careful about whom it allows in the classroom. “We have one of the largest achievement gaps in the nation,” Doan said. “And we want to make sure every child in our state has a teacher in front of them that is able to be highly trained in their ability to look at reading difficulty, highly trained in their ability to diagnose math difficulties.”

Ms. Doan’s explanation is BS. Rather than accepting a qualified, experienced teacher, the Board cited Minnesota’s large achievement gaps, then saying that they “want to make sure every child in our state has a teacher in front of them that is able to be highly trained in their ability to look at reading difficulty, highly trained in their ability to diagnose math difficulties.”

Simply put, that’s politic-speak for saying that the Board was willing to defy a judge. Check back later today for more on this corruption.

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Dave Unze’s latest article about ISD742’s new bonding referendum is must-reading for the districts’ residents because of its multiple potential impacts.

First, it’s important to consider the impact the referendum will have on local property taxes. The impact will undoubtedly be gigantic, especially for people living on fixed incomes. Next, it’s important that residents question whether this is the wisest choice in terms of whether School Superintendent Willie Jett’s proposal fits St. Cloud’s and the area’s future. Many residents see the city and the region looking much different than it currently looks. Third, residents should tell the district that they’re voting no unless they see the blueprint for the proposed Tech High School. They should tell the School Board that the questions must be worded so that no changes to the blueprints can be made once voters approve the issuing of bonds.

Last year, when the proposed bonding referendum was defeated 8,460-7,393, many voters that I spoke with said that they weren’t willing to approve a blank check to the school board. They said that there wasn’t much information put out there about what the new Tech High School would look like.

Since then, the landscape has changed significantly. People question whether there’s a need to build a new Tech. Voters should question whether refurbishing Tech might not be a better option. Residents should also question the size of the new Tech building. Last year’s referendum called for Tech and Apollo to both hold 1,800 students. This past year, there were approximately 2,700 students attending the 2 schools.

It’s foolish to think that enrollment will increase by one-third over the next 25 years. If anything, it’s likely to continue shrinking. Here are the basics of the proposal as reported by Unze:

St. Cloud schools superintendent Willie Jett is recommending that school board members ask voters for $137.9 million to build a new Technical High School and renovate Apollo High School.

The vote would be Nov. 8, with two questions on the ballot. The first, asking for funding to build a new Tech, would have to pass in order for the money to renovate Apollo to be provided. The Apollo funding would be a second ballot question. Jett recommends asking voters for $100.5 million for a new Tech and $37.3 million for Apollo renovations.

Voters should keep this in mind when they vote this November:

School board members at a work session Thursday morning all voiced support for Jett’s recommendations.

What did these people base their support on? If they’re just going to rubberstamp Jett’s recommendations, why do they even exist? Seriously, it’s time to vote for new ideas on the board. I don’t care what age the people are. I care about whether they’re willing to question conventional wisdom.

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Now that we’re in the 6th painful year of Gov. Dayton’s administration, we have a historical record to judge his administration on. It isn’t a history of successful negotiating. In 2011, Gov. Dayton attempted to push the GOP legislature into accepting his tax increase proposal when Gov. Dayton shut down the government. Let there be no doubt about this. Gov. Dayton planned the government shutdown. Insiders at HHS saw a memo that outlined the strategy a week after the end of the regular session and a month before the official shutdown. The memo explained how Gov. Dayton and the DFL would exploit the media in their attempt to vilify the GOP.

After that fizzled, Gov. Dayton announced that he was going to tour the state to raise support for his budget. Originally, it was planned to hit Rochester, then St. Cloud, Moorhead, Duluth, Brainerd and Bemidji. The Rochester stop fizzled even though they planned on heavy union participation in Rochester.

That afternoon, St. Cloud got word that Rochester had fizzled. When Gov. Dayton appeared at Apollo High School, Steve Gottwalt stole the show, telling Gov. Dayton that they could resolve the budget impasse by getting Dayton’s administration out of St. Paul and bringing Gov. Dayton’s number crunchers to St. Cloud. After the Apollo meeting, it was announced that the rest of Gov. Dayton’s trips were canceled. A week later, the special session was held. The shutdown ended.

Last year, Gov. Dayton tried the same gambit. He did his utmost to portray Republicans as heartless politicians who don’t care about people. Gov. Dayton insisted on funding Universal Pre-K. Rather than caving, Speaker Daudt met with Dr. Art Rolnick. During the regular session, Dr. Rolnick said that universal Pre-K wasn’t the way to go:

Also, interestingly enough, early education advocates throughout the state, including myself, a person like Art Rolnick, a person who has pushed early childhood learning to the head of our state, is saying that the Governor’s plan to implement is wrong. We should be targeting resources to those kids most in need.

It wasn’t until a month later that Gov. Dayton caved on universal Pre-K. Again, Gov. Dayton’s top priority, the thing he wanted most of all, he didn’t get it. Speaker Daudt made a fantastic policy statement, bringing in Dr. Rolnick and making the case against universal Pre-K.

This year, Gov. Dayton wants funding for SWLRT and a ton of additional spending. Gov. Dayton is again touring the state. Friday, he’ll be at SCSU. I’ll be there to cover the event. Thus far, the DFL playbook has been pretty much what it’s always been, that Republicans don’t care about the little guy, that they only look out for millionaires and billionaires and multi-national corporations. This week, the GOP turned the tables on Gov. Dayton. They had Ryan Visher, a store owner from Madelia, MN, explain how Gov. Dayton’s veto of the Tax Bill will hurt him.

Predictably, the things that Gov. Dayton is pushing for aren’t popular outside of the DFL. It’s just a matter of time before everyone realizes that. Predictably, it’ll take a little time before DFL legislators will tell him that his pressure ploy isn’t working. Shortly after that, we’ll get a special session largely on Speaker Daudt’s terms.

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If this LTE doesn’t put Sartell’s bonding referendum in perspective, nothing will. The LTE’s second paragraph contains the first red flag. That paragraph says “It’s just one meal out at a restaurant a month, right? It will only lengthen your mortgage payments for up to six months on the average home. No big deal; what’s six months? Most residents won’t live in their home for 25 years, which is the length of this bond.”

While the writer didn’t say that she got the “one meal at a restaurant a month” figure from the school board, it isn’t a stretch to think that that’s where she got it from. It’s an old sales technique that’s used to make something sound inexpensive. It’s like the TV sales pitch for leasing a vehicle. Rather than saying what the cost of a vehicle is, these types of ads usually say something like ‘you can lease a brand new Mercedes for only $295 a month’ right before they tell you that they require $5,000 down at signing.

What they don’t tell you is how much money you’d spend during the cost of the lease only to have to lease another vehicle. That isn’t the case in this LTE. Instead of glossing over that statistic, Tammy Hagerty puts it into perspective by saying “But say you are a farmer owning 140 acres and rent another 400 acres from other landowners in this district. (Landowners rent their land to cover their taxes.) Taxes on that farmer’s homestead and acreage are $2,319.39 a year. With the projected increase of $948 a year, the family farm that you’ve owned for over 35 years will cost you an additional $81,610.75 over the next 25 years.”

It’s one thing to hear that a property tax increase would only cost “one meal at a restaurant a month.” That’s pretty reasonable sounding. It’s another when the taxpayers hear that that bonding initiative alone will cost a farmer $81,610.75 over the course of 25 years.

Taxpayers, it’s time to stop accepting sales pitch figures that politicians use. It’s time to demand that they use dollars and cents figures. Further, we should insist that school board members that don’t tell the truth should be immediately thrown off he board. I wrote this post about Colleen Donovan’s LTE because of this information:

“The Dec. 19 Times report “St. Cloud schools hike tax levy 14.75%” reported the district stating an owner of a home valued at $150,000, if their home value did not increase, would pay $49 more in taxes due to the 2015 levy increase. My 2015 tax statement showed that levy increased my taxes by 54.5 percent, or an increase of $79.59. And my house is valued under $100,000. This is far from the $49 on a $150,000 the district reported in December. The district did not need voter approval to do this.”

In short, these school board members don’t automatically tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Unfortunately, it sometimes requires citizen pressure.

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