Monday, November 30, 2009


(More) Fiddling while Rome burns....


November 30, 2009 - St. Paul, Minn. - Macalester College will be the new home of the Center for School Change, a nationally known program to improve K-12 education.

“We're delighted to welcome the Center for School Change to Macalester. We are looking forward to developing mutually-beneficial connections, building on the strengths of our Educational Studies Department and other academic programs, and increasing student engagement in our local schools,” said Kathleen Murray, provost. “Simply, it’s a win-win for both the Center and Macalester.”

The Center for School Change, founded and led by Joe Nathan, PhD, was established at the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota in 1990. Under a new agreement, Macalester will house the program, which includes two staff people, and act as its fiscal agent.

“Joe Nathan and the Center for School Change have a record of sustained achievement in advancing K-12 education,” said Brian Atwood, dean, University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute. “We at the Humphrey Institute have shared in this success over the years. We wish Joe all the best as he prepares to write a new chapter of the center's story with Macalester College and are glad that he will retain an affiliation with the Institute going forward.”

Murray explained that Macalester students will benefit from the new relationship through:

  • Expanded access to community-based research projects, internship, and service opportunities in K-12 schools
  • Involvement in new types of educational research projects
  • Opportunities to forge new partnerships with communities and foundations
    Increased national visibility as home to innovative K-12 policy research

“We chose Macalester because its commitment to service and academic rigor complements the Center’s mission and values,” said Nathan. “We are excited about the opportunities this new partnership with one of the nation’s leading liberal arts colleges brings to the Center.” Nathan and Sheena Thao, the Center’s Outreach and Public Information Coordinator, will be moving to Macalester.

The Center for School Change has a record of successfully working with educators, parents, business people, students, policy-makers and other concerned people throughout the United States to increase student achievement, raise graduation rates, improve student attitudes toward learning, their schools, and their communities, and strengthen communities by building stronger working relationships among educators, parents, students and other community members. Current Center projects include work with governors in six states and with public schools in a number of communities to help increase achievement and the percentage of students who graduate ready to do college level work.

The Center is entirely grant and contract-funded. Since its inception, the Center has received support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the State of Minnesota, and the Annenberg, Blandin, Carlson, Helzberg, Frey, Rockefeller and Walton, Minneapolis, and St. Paul foundations, among others. The new relationship is budget-neutral to Macalester; the Center will cover the full cost of its space, and grants administration and other fiscal services Macalester will provide. The parties have finalized the partnership agreement and are planning for the Center to move January 1, 2010.

To my untutored eye, this looks like a tremendous loss. Oh, well, we've always got TERI at the U...




TERI on Twitter

Teacher Education Redesign (TERI) at the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development

[Note added December 1, 2009

Evidently, Matthew has declined my request for a discussion about #TERI on UThink:

wbgleason Earlier invited @mathewcw to discuss #TERI on UThink http://bit.ly/8dZ7pQ Declined: http://bit.ly/5VnIW3 (comment 29) Molotov cocktail kinda guy?

Added Dec. 2: The Chronicle has just put up a fairly even-handed discussion of the #TERI matter. I've put some of it up and invite those who are actually interested in a discussion rather than name calling to comment there.

Added December 10: Matthew has wisely decided to go underground..

wbgleason Want to flame on in protected mode? Here's how to do it - @matthewcw All for discussion? Why not allow comments on blog? #TERI]
_________________

wbgleason @matthewcw "Much more worth discussing, glad for opportunity." http://bit.ly/8dZ7pQ Or would you rather continue sniping? #TERI #UMN

matthewcw "Preparing teachers to work with diverse learning populations" (http://bit.ly/86ILDs ) Key concept and problem #TERI tries understand. #UMN

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Jean Quam, Dean of CEHD calmly responds to #TERI issue: http://bit.ly/86ILDs . See comments: Dear Dean Quam, #UMN #Minnesota

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Core of #TERI issue: those who believe "Truth" is indepen of race & those who know otherwise}Believe vs. know? How fairminded

matthewcw Jean Quam, Dean of CEHD calmly responds to #TERI issue: http://bit.ly/86ILDs . Much more worth discussing, glad for opportunity. #UMN

matthewcw Core of #TERI issue = 2 incommensurable systems of knowledge: those who believe "Truth" is independent of race & those who know otherwise.

wbgleason RT @JoannaOC @wbgleason Jean Quam's response to KKersten's was a reasonable refutation to the FIRE #TERI Don't agree - disposition business?

JoannaOC @wbgleason I though Jean Quam's response to KKersten's column in the Strib was a reasonble refutation to the FIRE fear-mongering. #TERI

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Can racist teachers be effective teachers in 2009? Apparently so}Is this rhetoric any different from tparty/thall shout? #TERI

wbgleason Once again we find ourselves at #UMN in a situation that leaves us open to national ridicule ... http://bit.ly/z6VpS #TERI #Minnesota

matthewcw The #TERI proposals are starting points for discussion. Sad / unfortunate to see adults acting like the tea-party / town hall shouters #UMN

matthewcw “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.” - Du Bois. Race, whiteness, privilege STILL difficult topics #TERI

matthewcw We know how #TERI will be attacked; we've seen this play before from the right wing. Misrepresentation and fear are their tactics. #UMN

wbgleason RT @matthewcw #TERI @ #UMN is merely a proxy, a ... space to express a fear of diversity. }Unsupported assertion & you actually teach here?

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Media outlets fanning fear over #TERI usually have conservative / neo-con ads. #UMN FIRE? It's conservative => it's wrong?

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Let's be honest about the "outrage" over #TERI @ #UMN. This is about race and racism. }So anyone who disagrees is dishonest?

matthewcw At the end of 2009, #TERI is the new #ACORN. Like ACORN, #TERI @ #UMN is merely a proxy, a discursive space to express a fear of diversity.


matthewcw But let's be honest about the "outrage" over #TERI @ #UMN. This is about race and racism in America. Let's not hide from that discussion.

matthewcw Careful readers will quickly note "media" outlets fanning fear over #TERI usually also have conservative / neo-con ads on them.

wbgleason The University of Minnesota redesigns teachers http://bit.ly/8CwKiR #UMN #Minnesota #TERI


wbgleason FIRE Letter to University of Minnesota - Twin Cities President Bruininks http://bit.ly/862GMI #UMN #Minnesota #TERI disposition assessment

wbgleason RT @matthewcw Can racist teachers be effective teachers in 2009? Apparently so: http://bit.ly/85JNa6 #TERI #UMN Racist? Careful...

matthewcw Can racist teachers be effective teachers in 2009? Apparently so: http://bit.ly/65Fjkm http://bit.ly/85JNa6 http://bit.ly/8r6dbZ #TERI #UMN

matthewcw How strange it is that the academic "left" sounds more like right wing talk radio when it comes to defending their own privilege #TERI #UMN

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The FIRE Letter to President Bruininks

Concerning Disposition Assessment

at the University of Minnesota

College of Education and Human Development

Selections from the full letter:

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE; www.thefire.org) unites leaders in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, legal equality, academic freedom, due process, freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and religion, and freedom of association on America's college campuses.

FIRE is deeply concerned about new policies at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities proposed by the College of Education and Human Development. According to documents published by the college (see http://blog.lib.umn.edu/cehd/teri), it intends to mandate certain beliefs and values-"dispositions"-for future teachers. The college also intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the "wrong" beliefs and values-those who either do not have sufficient "cultural competence" or those who the college judges will not be able to be converted to the "correct" beliefs and values even after remedial re-education. These intentions violate the freedom of conscience of the university's students. As a public university bound by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, the university is both legally and morally obligated to uphold this fundamental right.

On the level of "Self," the task group seeks to require that:

Our future teachers will be able to discuss their own histories and current thinking drawing on notions of white privilege, hegemonic masculinity, heteronormativity, and internalized oppression.

Future teachers will understand that they are privileged & marginalized depending on context ... It is about the development of cultural empathy, if you will. Teachers first have to discover their own privilege, oppression, or marginalization and also are able to describe their cultural identity.

Future teachers will recognize & demonstrate understanding of white privilege[.]

Future teachers will understand the importance of cultural identity and develop a positive sense of racial/cultural identity[.]

In addition, this area demands that "Future teachers create & fight for social justice."

In the final section, "What Makes the University of Minnesota's Programs Distinctive from Other Programs in the State?" the task force even presumes to demand commitments from the college's faculty, in violation of their academic freedom:

Every faculty member at our university that trains our teachers must comprehend and commit to the centrality of race, class, culture, and gender issues in teaching and learning, and consequently, frame their teaching and course foci accordingly.

FIRE urges you to consider the Supreme Court's ruling in West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943), which invalidated mandated allegiances to political ideologies at public schools. Writing for the Court, Justice Robert H. Jackson declared:
Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.

FIRE understands that the college intends to consult with the university's general counsel regarding its "dispositions assessment" in the summer of 2010. Let us urge you today not to wait until the college wastes valuable resources in taking several more months to plan such an unconstitutional and morally unconscionable set of demands on future teachers.

Indeed, the university's general counsel should be asked to comment as soon as possible. If the Race, Culture, Class, and Gender Task Group achieves its stated goals, the result will be political and ideological screening of applicants, remedial re-education for those with the "wrong" views and values, and withholding of degrees from those upon whom the university's political reeducation efforts proved ineffective. While the task group appears to have attempted to take matters of "social justice" to heart, it seems to have persuaded the College of Education and Human Development to adopt requirements that, by any non-totalitarian standard, are severely unjust and impermissibly intrude into matters of individual conscience. As these demands for "cultural competence" stand today, they are a severe affront to liberty and a disservice to the very ideal of a liberating education that appears to be behind the task group's ideas. It is a shame that the College of Education and Human Development has embraced such an illiberal view of education.

Please recognize your legal and moral obligation to respect the freedom of conscience of the future teachers of Minnesota. The College of Education and Human Development has a chance to demonstrate that it shares an understanding of the basic premises of a liberal education and truly embraces human diversity on its most profound and essential level. Great teachers come in all shapes and sizes, from all backgrounds and all beliefs. Let the college's policies reflect this reality.

FIRE requests a response by Thursday, December 17, 2009.

Sincerely,

Adam Kissel

Director, Individual Rights Defense Program

Note that there is unfortunately more distressing commentary in the letter - this is only an excerpt.

Once again we find ourselves at the University of Minnesota in a situation that leaves us open to national ridicule if we continue in our pigheadedness.

That our president and provost - who is a lawyer - tolerate it is disgraceful.
Leadership matters. Time for change in Morrill Hall?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Political Litmus Test

for Teachers

at the University of Minnesota?

Please see:

"All signs are that the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities is planning to enforce a political litmus test for future teachers. The university's College of Education and Human Development intends to mandate certain beliefs and values—"dispositions"—for future teachers. Yet that is not enough. It even intends to redesign its admissions process so that it screens out people with the wrong beliefs and values-those who it judges will not be able to be brought around to the correct beliefs and values of "cultural competence" even after remedial training."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Just Say No...

Kabuki Continues on Light Rail

Board of Regents November Meeting


video

Board of Regents Chairman Blows Off


Request for Meeting With Former Regent

and Met Council Chairman, Peter Bell

[In the above video, Regent Allen claims that no new items have been placed on the table during Light Rail negotiations. He also implies that the U's sole motive for intransigence is protecting the research of the University. Neither claim stands up to scrutiny.]

The Pioneer Press has a good handle on this. I've abstracted a recent article on the Periodic Table: The Arrogance Continues at University of Minnesota...

"Negotiations between the University of Minnesota and Central Corridor light-rail-line officials stumbled again this week, with the U apparently reinstating tens of millions of dollars to its wish list of payouts and Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell alleging "arrogance" in response."

"The dust-up has caught the attention of state lawmakers, and it looks like they're going to step in. On Friday, state Rep. Alice Hausman, a St. Paul Democrat, said she's planning to convene a meeting Wednesday in Ramsey County offices with leading lawmakers and both sides to try to sort things out. "

As for the question of whether the university is hogging taxpayer money that could go elsewhere, O'Brien said: "The university has a great deal of sympathy with others along the line. Our job as officers is to represent the interests of the university."

Bell, himself a former member of the university's board of regents, bristles at comments like that.

"The arrogance is just counterproductive to moving this project forward," Bell said Friday. "They need to understand that, yes, they have a fiduciary duty to the university, but they also have a duty to the public. ... I always say and believe that the university has legitimate concerns. They need to acknowledge that we have legitimate constraints, and they have refused to do that."

Hausman said she was "very disappointed and alarmed" to learn that on Monday the university reiterated prior demands to be reimbursed perhaps $2 million for U-hired consultants, perhaps $20 million for lost revenue from two parking lots that would be disrupted and for a "free-fare zone" for students traveling between stations on-campus.

"It did feel to me that there were suddenly four or five new things plunked on the table," said the St. Paul lawmaker.

Bell said he has requested a meeting to speak directly to the regents. He said he has been refused.

______________

Breathtaking, sad, arrogant.

Ms. Hausman is the person responsible for the upcoming bonding bill in the legislature. The Morrill Hall crowd would be well advised to pay attention to what she has to say...

Leadership matters. How about showing some, President Bruininks?

Board Chair Allen's remarks are also very disappointing and do not seem to be in accord with the facts. The lack of respect shown for Peter Bell is most telling, especially since he is a former member of the Board of Regents.

Perhaps Chair Allen prefers not to engage in a frank and honest discussion with someone who has views other than those of the University of Minnesota administration?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conflict of Interest Policy at the U of Minnesota

Painful and Unnecessarily Slow Progress Continues

From the Star-Tribune:

Grassley Reacts: In a brief statement, Sen. Charles Grassley said he is concerned that the University of Minnesota's new conflict of interest policy will not provide enough details about faculty's income from outside firms. "Sen. Grassley looks for requirements that the amounts of money to be reported are meaningful and for specificity about what the money is for. We've looked at what's publicly available about the new policy ... It's not clear what the new policy at the University of Minnesota will make public.''


It's time to put an aggressive approach in place.


The new policy, however, doesn't go far enough in querying professors about outside income.

The old policy simply had them check off if they earned $10,000 or more. Under the new plan they would have to check off annual income categories, such as $50,000 to $100,000; its highest category is $250,000 or more. Why not simply disclose the actual amount?

Rotenberg has an unsatisfactory answer: This is the disclosure approach other public entities use. The U should seize the opportunity to set an aggressive standard.

[Par for the course for General Counsel Rotenberg.]

Legislators also need to do their part. A misguided state law that prevents the U from publicly disclosing outside income should be changed. The public deserves to know more about the ties between state experts and industry.

The proposal's language governing industry-funded continuing education also needs sharpening in the months ahead. And the U should make another small but significant change and delete language that allows for consideration of a professor's "unique value" when weighing a potential conflict of interest. Some critics contend it means faculty stars will get special treatment, [e.g. the case of the double dippers?] and it could give opponents ammunition to hold up the proposal.

That would be unfortunate. The university's medical school has been under fire for not putting an aggressive conflict management plan in place sooner. [As well it should.] The U now has a strong, far more comprehensive policy almost ready to go. It's time to put the finishing touches on the plan and make it happen.

The policy is not explicit enough about what sort of gifts to medical students - including textbooks with drug company logos - are allowed. And the question needs to be answered: where does this new policy put us on the American Medical Student Association scorecard? We started out at D and were given, provisionally, a C based on an earlier draft of the policy. Where do we stand now? It should be noted that the Mayo Clinic has received an A rating.


Sunday, November 8, 2009


The Arrogance Continues at University of Minnesota...

From the Pioneer Press:


Negotiations between the University of Minnesota and Central Corridor light-rail-line officials stumbled again this week, with the U apparently reinstating tens of millions of dollars to its wish list of payouts and Metropolitan Council Chairman Peter Bell alleging "arrogance" in response.

The dust-up has caught the attention of state lawmakers, and it looks like they're going to step in. On Friday, state Rep. Alice Hausman, a St. Paul Democrat, said she's planning to convene a meeting Wednesday in Ramsey County offices with leading lawmakers and both sides to try to sort things out.

"The stakes are pretty high, so it seems to be a time to try to pull everything together," Hausman said. "It's not just St. Paul. It's Minneapolis and the whole state."

"The FTA has clearly sent the message that this project is not going forward until (an agreement with the U) is done," said Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, who also chairs the county Regional Rail Authority. "The U continues to say they want to get this resolved, but their actions have not been consistent with that. I'm not so sure that their concern is as paramount as ours, which is getting this done on time and on budget."

So far, the plan is to spend $27 million on the U. Politically, some of those expenses are touchy. For example, negotiations have included discussions on the size of trees to be planted and the design of lampposts along the mall. But on University Avenue in St. Paul — where businesses and residents have been clamoring for assistance — there is no project money for anything. No trees, no streetlights, just tracks and stations.

"This $11.1 million transit mall is going to be, quite candidly, better and nicer than any other station," Bell said.

Hausman said she was "very disappointed and alarmed" to learn that on Monday the university reiterated prior demands to be reimbursed perhaps $2 million for U-hired consultants, perhaps $20 million for lost revenue from two parking lots that would be disrupted and for a "free-fare zone" for students traveling between stations on-campus.

"It did feel to me that there were suddenly four or five new things plunked on the table," said the St. Paul lawmaker.

As for the question of whether the university is hogging taxpayer money that could go elsewhere, O'Brien said: "The university has a great deal of sympathy with others along the line. Our job as officers is to represent the interests of the university."

Bell, himself a former member of the university's board of regents, bristles at comments like that.

"The arrogance is just counterproductive to moving this project forward," Bell said Friday. "They need to understand that, yes, they have a fiduciary duty to the university, but they also have a duty to the public. ... I always say and believe that the university has legitimate concerns. They need to acknowledge that we have legitimate constraints, and they have refused to do that."

Both Bell and O'Brien said they'll be at Hausman's meeting.

Bell said he has requested a meeting to speak directly to the regents. He said he has been refused.

Breathtaking, sad, arrogant...



Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mr. Bonzo Cuts Back on Blogging

I will be going on sabbatical/research leave to Brandeis University in Boston from 1/1/10 until 6/1/11. In the next two months I have much to do to prepare for this move, so I am cutting back to posting only on Sundays. This will probably continue while I'm gone.

I appreciate very much the kind words and encouragement that I have received over the years from readers. I also know that the people to whom much of this has been directed - the Morrill Hall crowd - are aware of what has been written on this blog and its brother, The Periodic Table, Too.

The current financial situation at the U is going to force a serious re-evaluation of our mission, values, and priorities. My fear is that the ambitious aspirations of our administration will continue unchecked because of a lack of inclusion and true consultation with students, faculty, and staff.

I wish the University nothing but the best. Honest dissent from the Morrill Hall party line is my responsibility as a Minnesota citizen, and university alum/faculty member.


The Morrill Hall crowd should look on the face of Northrop every day to remind themselves of these profound words:


The University of Minnesota

Founded in the Faith that Men are Enobled by Understanding

Dedicated to the Advancement of Learning and the Search for Truth

Devoted to the Instruction of Youth and the Welfare of the State

It used to be quite easy to walk out the front door of Morrill and read the Northrop inscription. But the front door of Morrill is now locked and only the side and back doors are accessible.

Symbolic of what has been happening in Morrill Hall?