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MN Progressive Project: Al Franken’s thoughts on education

“The race to the middle is insane,” stated Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN).

I spoke to Al at Netroots Nation last Saturday. He was referring to the concept in education in which teachers ignore the highest scoring students on the standardized tests because they’ll pass easily. They also ignore the students with no chance of passing the tests and focus on the students in the middle of the pack to make sure the overall percentages of students who pass are highest.


“The race to the middle is insane,” stated Sen. Al Franken (DFL-MN).

I spoke to Al at Netroots Nation last Saturday. He was referring to the concept in education in which teachers ignore the highest scoring students on the standardized tests because they’ll pass easily. They also ignore the students with no chance of passing the tests and focus on the students in the middle of the pack to make sure the overall percentages of students who pass are highest.

“The solution is to measure growth,” he continued. “Franni (Al’s wife) and I had dinner with Sen. Enzi (R-WY) and we talked about this. He agreed that measuring growth was a much better solution to the achievement gap and failing schools.”

This gives me the slightest bit of hope for education reform. After all, I didn’t believe him and Franni when they said we’d pass health care reform.

“We also need to figure out alternative pay and evaluations,” Al said. “The AFT (American Federation of Teachers, the national teacher’s union) is trying to work with Arne Duncan (Obama’s Secretary of Education).”

Hopefully, the AFT can steer Duncan and the Obama Administration away from their current proclivity for punishing teachers and toward something more helpful.

“We need to reward good teachers for doing great work, but avoid the petty politics of the school where a principal might have it in for a teacher,”
Al continued. “We need basic changes to NCLB (No Child Left Behind).”

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