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Stillwater Critical Thinking Club

TOPIC: The Necessity of Education Reforms

Recent data reported by the US Department of Education indicates that Minnesota has the worst graduation rates in the nation for Latino and Native American Indian Students and the second lowest rate for African-American and Asian/Pacific Island students. Many will argue that if we continue to ignore this crisis -- and what it means for the children who are most in need -- Minnesota's ability to produce a highly educated workforce that can compete in a global economy will be greatly diminished. For students, it is also an issue of social justice. This talk will focus on common sense education reforms and the need to change current laws and policies that put up significant barriers to higher student achievement and force effective educators and innovators to operate in a bureaucratic, out-of-date environment.

SPEAKER: Kathy Saltzman
Over the past 16 years, while serving as a state senator, the executive director of the nation's largest state AmeriCorps program and legislative advocate for both state and national organizations, Kathy has focused on improving achievement for Minnesota students. She currently serves as the State Director for StudentsFirst, a national grassroots movement founded and led by former DC School Chancellor Michelle Rhee that is committed to transforming public education and closing the achievement gap. As part of the Political Engagement team, she is responsible for turning the StudentsFirst’s policy agenda into governing law and advocating for pro-student, common sense reform measures.

Prior to her present position, she was Executive Director of the Minnesota Education Corps, placing over 900 AmeriCorps members in a year of national service in the Minnesota Math Crops, Opportunity Corps, and nationally recognized Minnesota Reading Corps.

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  • Douglas H.

    I don't totally blame the speaker for not knowing what a "Critical Thinking Club" would be looking for and what the reception would be. Most elementary / secondary students today know very well what critical thinking involves. I am surprised by a speaker presenting on the subject of what to do to make education "better" than todays performance, not being prepared beyond speaking points dealing with an obviously national roll out of the "Michelle Rhee" view of "fixing education". While some of these "goals" may have great value, I question the (once again) blind drive to change things (my way) without scientificly based investigation, testing and evaluation by peers. What it has done is raise my interest to investigate why a national effort (students first) is now a "movement" to change our (successful) education system which has worked well for nearly 200 years. Note: Minnesota, even now, produces some of the best students in the world. We need not to trash it.

    March 12, 2013

  • Lee S.

    As meeting facilitator, what I appreciate is widespread participation. The speaker certainly stimulated much participation and got people thinking. were there oros and cons in the presentation?...yes, that's the norm especially with such a challenging topic as education reform.

    1 · March 12, 2013

  • Don O.

    I appreciated the interest, energy, personal passion, and dedication of the speaker.

    The primary issue being addressed was "What should be done about MN's 'education gap' between whites & minority students?"

    The proposed "Students First" pamphlet seemed to be just that - a marketing pamphlet. There was very little offered in terms of possible 'Root causes" (with or without supporting evidence), let alone any credible rationale as to why the "3 Pillars" proposed were therefore more or less appropriate than any others considered.

    One very good question was asked, but the speaker didn't seem to respond to it's wisdom: "It seems that some schools/districts could be more affected by this "gap" than others - yet an apparent State-wide solution was being proposed. Why is that appropriate?"

    If a speaker meets with Critical Thinkers, she might provide at least some evidence of her version of Root Cause, and some linkage to Why her proposed Solution is Better than any others.

    1 · March 11, 2013

  • John T.

    I believe my sister Ruth is coming, and I do not know if she is signed up.

    March 10, 2013

  • Dan T. O.

    This is hard to believe ! Is the data bundled in a host of confusing census tracts or is it an anomaly of the more recent influx of immigrant populations ? What was the data experience of earlier arrivals of Vietnamese,Cambodian,Mung populations ?

    March 6, 2013

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