Thursday, October 19, 2006

No Options Left Behind

While working late at my home office a couple nights this week I was watching our local cable access channel which aired a recent debate between our area’s Minnesota state legislators and their November 7th election challengers. One state representative participating in this debate -- whose name I did not note unfortunately -- made a comment that really caught my attention. This gentleman challenged his opponent who called for extending the Minnesota school year by responding with, “I agree that we should extend the school year but we should not mandate one school year for all the school districts in Minnesota. A school year calendar that works well for a Twin Cities school is not necessarily good for a small town Up North which might be more affected by weather conditions and the very different dynamics of the local economy……….”

Personally I love this idea for numerous reasons:

-It further decentralizes the current public school fortress overall
-It allows local leaders and economic factors to determine how best to use education resources
-This idea harnesses the “power of competition” to generate innovative ideas across the hundreds of school districts in Minnesota
-It empowers teachers to work in new, dynamic work environments

Unfortunately we Minnesotans might have seen much more of this innovation being generated by our state department of education had the Minnesota Senate not refused to confirm Governor Pawlenty’s appointee, Cheri Pierson Yecke, who subsequently left Minnesota to become the Chancellor of K-12 Education for the State of Florida. Chancellor Yecke is leading the charge to allow high school students to “choose a major”; much the way college students do today, beginning in 2007. This is a great way to empower students via personal choice to help them better prepare for college or guide them into vocational options.

Hopefully such thinking among our public officials will continue to spread since decentralization and personal choice are perfect complements of each other that serve to maximize consumer benefits.

Use your voice for choice,


No comments: