Wednesday, May 19, 2010

School Resources

Today, my follow-up column on the Rochester Public Schools budget cuts comes out. I got an unprecedented response to the original column (originally printed in the 5/5 Post-Bulletin).

I have to say I'm feeling unsettled about the follow up. I received so much information that I would've liked to bring to readers' attention -- including the entire transcript of my interview with Dr. Dallemand -- but I just didn't have the room to do it. This is a topic with much weight in Rochester, and I'm disappointed that it hasn't been covered with more ink in the Post-Bulletin.

I did send two files of supporting material to the P-B for inclusion on -- including the full interview with Dr. Dallemand. I don't know that they'll make it on, however. (The downside to being a lowly freelancer. I guess my editors didn't take me seriously when I asked, "How many pages do I get this week?")

I'll watch the P-B site and provide links if the interview with Dr. D goes live. And if it doesn't, I'll post it here. In the meantime, here's some advice and resources from two Jen's World readers:

Long-time teacher Chuck Handlon from Century High School, for instance, offered these suggestions for taking an active role in your child’s education:

1. Be involved in your child's school. Volunteer to help, visit sometimes, show you care.

2. Be positive in your comments and interactions with the school. If you are constantly complaining and critical of school, teachers, district administration etc. you are training your child to be negative.

3. Be informed. Ask questions, try to understand what your child faces at school.

4. Advocate for your child. You know your child best and you can help the teacher understand your child's needs. As our class sizes balloon we are less able to have the time to spend with your child. We make mistakes, but most of us care about your child.

Handlon wrote, "As an educator with 34 years experience I have seen the huge difference between students who have supportive, involved parents and those who do not."

Handlon also offered a link to an organization that has information related to school. It’s called Parents United, and it’s an advocacy group in St. Paul:

Additionally, a parent with children in Rochester public schools wrote this message:

The Minnesota 2020 website has a treasure trove of information on the education situation in Minnesota, especially their Hindsight Blog. It can be found at:

They just had three great articles in a row: one on Race to the Top, another on the claim that teacher’s salaries are too high and that’s the problem with school funding, and a third that has some great info on how state aid to Minnesota K-12 public schools has been cut by $1,400 per pupil in real (i.e., inflation-adjusted) dollars since Pawlenty has been governor. These are all factors in what we face here in Rochester.



  1. As a former teacher in the district, I very much agree that we need more cheerleaders. Our kids really do watch and learn from our attitudes. I appreciate that you mentioned Dr. D. as a man who has honorable intentions.

    I don't like big class sizes, but there are much worse things that could happen to our kids. (I was just thinking about the "schools" described in "Three Cups of Tea") I had a little room full of fourth graders during my very first year of teaching, so it's not that I'm speaking from inexperience. Good teachers will rise above the circumstances because they love the kids. It's not that people who disagree are bad teachers. But there's something to be said for resiliency and making the best out of a situation. Together.

  2. I believe that is the point Dr. Dallemand was making -- that good teachers can rise above class sizes. And I do, wholeheartedly, believe that our superintendent is working with our children foremost in his mind. But I still would like to see class sizes shrink. Is it going to happen in the current economic climate? Nope, don't think so.

    I have to say: The most educational part of my interview with Dr. D was the information on how districts all over the country are dealing with similar situations. It's not just us. And, you know, as much as I detest these cuts -- there is a little comfort in numbers.