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Minnesota Panel Sees Schools at 'Turning Point'

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The Minnesota Governor's Commission on Education for Economic Growth has recommended tightened curriculum requirements, increased pay and differentiated career paths for teachers, and improved business-education partnerships among its 28 proposals for improving education throughout the state.

"Unlike various national studies, the commission does not find Minnesota's schools to be 'at risk,"' the report maintains. "It finds, rather, our schools at a turning point where the most thoughtful decisions must be made for the future."

The Minnesota commission, which was created by Gov. Rudy Perpich last fall, was headed by N. Bud Grossman, chairman of Gelco Corporation, and Wendell R. Anderson, a former Minnesota governor and U.S. Senator.

Relying largely on the testimony of citizens, educators, state officers, and business leaders, the group assessed the state's response to ''Action for Excellence," the report of the Task Force on Education for Economic Growth of the Education Commission of the States.

The panel addressed neither the costs nor the strategies for putting its recommended changes into effect.

Academic Standards

The commission recommended that the state set specific requirements for time allocations and curriculum at both the elementary and secondary levels to maximize the classroom time devoted to mathematics, science, language arts, and social studies.

The commission also called on schools, parents, students, and community members to develop a "code of conduct" to clearly define expectations for attendance, absences, and homework.

Salary Increases

For teachers and other education professionals, the commission recommended salary increases to reflect the salary levels of other jobs requiring similar education, training, and responsibility.

The panel also recommended:

That teacher-training programs upgrade their entrance requirements and that prospective teachers be tested before they receive licenses.

That local districts develop differentiated career paths or programs for teachers and that districts improve their teacher-evaluation processes by involving a committee of parents, peers, administrators, and others who work regularly with teachers.

That the state develop a test to be used as a requirement for high-school graduation, along with student-mastery and diagnostic/prescriptive testing programs to be used by school districts at their option.

That the state provide funds for research and development efforts at the local level to increase the effectiveness of individual schools.

The commission also suggested ways to improve school-business partnerships, to better serve students who are unserved or underserved, and to upgrade school-leadership programs.--ab

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