Education Dept. has red flags

Published 10:16 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Is it Shannon Savick or Rich Murray? Really, is there anyone who would oppose quality education for our children, especially when informed that after being first in the world for 200 years it is documented that we as a state and a nation have fallen between 29th and 34th (depending upon the researcher)? It is difficult to believe that any Minnesotan would not care about education and children, especially when we are learning that both friendly and enemy nations around the world are crushing our security with the superior education of their youth.

These two candidates frequently describe their ideas for the best design to collect and to allocate educational funds. This attempt is a fine debate and exercise in democracy, and as an independent-minded voter I am grateful for their efforts. However, the debate of how and where to spend money shrinks to insignificance when compared to the influence of a classroom instructor. Politicians often debate expenditures such as school toilets or the high-pressure sodium lighting on the football field, pale in comparison to the value of the instructors and principals in our educational system.

The common sense direction to return America to leadership in the world is to require our teachers to be more accountable. Pulitzer Prize-winner Thomas L. Freidman, and educational leaders professor Michael Mandelbaum, Bill and Melinda Gates, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and others all emphasize the overwhelming importance of strong accountability.

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Throughout my years as a businessman, I have employed more than 1,000 people. During this time I have grown to realize that even with the most vigorous evaluation of new job applicants, approximately 30 percent have been a miscalculation and misplaced, around 40 percent were a satisfactory fit for the described employment, and the remaining 30 percent would excel at their initial position. It appears that one of our large in-state educational systems mandated the replacement of only 0.0061 percent of their employees last year. Even allowing for all possible negative variables in these percentages, the large gap is a red flag signaling a horrendous lack of quality in personnel restructuring by management. Good teachers and principals love to be to be acknowledged and most are aware of the individuals that are under performing.

Likewise, as providers and users of products and services we know that any business that does not demand quality performance will fail. Of course, the system has many, many outstanding teachers, but there are many more sprouting from the fertile fields of Minnesota that would like to grow into the profession. Our dedicated teachers and principals certainly have many needs, such as, to be provided additional high-tech tools (iPads for students?) However to excel, and we must to maintain and increase the American lifestyle, they need to be held accountable for performance.

Our current educational model is not significant to meet our needs in the new global economy without adjustments in our accountability standards. Headed in this downward spiral, our current system cannot permanently succeed. So why would we allow our most valuable industry, the development and refinement of our children to self-destruct in this manner?

I intend to vote for Murray, one of the politicians that I feel might be strong enough to hold the Minnesota Department of Education firmly accountable.


Jerrold Dettle

Albert Lea