• Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Minnesota needs tougher standards in mathematics and science, starting in 8th grade, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said in his annual State of the State Address.
Mr. Pawlenty, a Republican who is seeking re-election this year, also said the state needs to include digital literacy as part of school standards so children know how to access and use technology as a basic skill.
During his March 9 address, the governor reminded lawmakers of changes he has helped establish over the three years since he took office, including the adoption of a performance-pay system for teachers.
But the primary need for the future, he said, is to transform high schools and prepare the young people of Minnesota for the global economy.
“We also need to realize that science and math are the currency of our new economy. We need more rigor in these areas,” he said. He urged that school standards should be upgraded to require Algebra 1 by the 8th grade.
Listen to the complete podcast of Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s 2006 State of the State Address. Posted by Minnesota’s Office of the Governor. (Windows Media Player required.)
To graduate from high school, all students should be required to take Algebra 2 and chemistry, he added. As it is, high school students in Minnesota are required to take three credits each in math and science, but Algebra 2 and chemistry are not mandatory.
CHARTER SCHOOLS: Mr. Pawlenty proposed that the state provide $7 million in incentives for at least 10 school districts to use Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses for all students in all grades.
Pointing out that academic progress in secondary schools has “flattened out,” Mr. Pawlenty said the state should provide funding to up to five high schools that can overhaul the way they operate to focus on college preparedness or technical training.
He also said he would direct the state education department to authorize more charter schools run by the Knowledge Is Power Program, or KIPP.
In 1991, Minnesota became the first state to pass a law allowing for the establishment of charter schools. There are 125 such public but largely independent schools operating in the state this school year, according to the Minnesota Association of Charter Schools, based in St. Paul.
A version of this article appeared in the March 15, 2006 edition of Education Week