Reform Up North

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Not exactly a slouch in the schools department to begin with, Minnesota has just distinguished itself by being the first state to sign on to adopt (in theory) the reform principles put forward by The Teaching Commission, Lou Gerstner's effort to infuse new thinking into the structure of the teaching profession. Earlier this year, Gerstner chaired a 19-member commission which, in spite of the presence of some individuals who normally defend the status quo, managed to put out a fairly bold declaration of concrete steps the profession needs to take, including performance pay, equal status for alternative certification routes, and getting serious about demanding more rigor from teacher preparation programs.

In committing the state to Commission goals, Governor Tim Pawlenty promises to pump more state money into education--if legislators will agree to tie teacher compensation to performance. How likely that is isn't known since this is the same legislature that last year summarily dumped reformist state school chief Cheri Yecke, but Senate Education Chairman Steve Kelley didn't dismiss Pawlenty's plan, stating “I think we could make significant progress.??? Pawlenty is also currently urging Minnesota’s adoption of value-added test-score interpretation. The man’s on a roll.