Pawlenty to schools: ‘We are SO not BFF’

Tim Nelson, formerly of City Hall Scoop, is — lucky for us — now at Minnesota Public Radio. They haven’t given him his own blog yet, but he’s always welcome to News Cut space. And so, the following is from Tim.


Maybe it’s not so good to be the king.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke before hundreds of school board members from across Minnesota gathered in Minneapolis this morning for their annual leadership conference. He dutifully touched on his well known policy positions: dealing with declining enrollment, Q-comp, teacher training, market-based teacher compensation.

And then came middle school.

It was an interesting aside on his own experience with his daughter Mara at an undisclosed Eagan middle school, showing that even potential veep contenders still weigh lunch room politics. (Listen – MP3):

But, as ever, they do it for keeps. (Listen – MP3)

Bob here, again.

OK, let’s see if we have this straight: The governor of the state doesn’t want to go talk to his daughter’s teacher about the lack of homework because “nothing will change” and “they’ll talk bad about me in the lunch room”?

Let’s hit the Wayback Machine:

The governor’s 2003 State of the State address: “School accountability begins with parents.”

On CNN’s Lou Dobbs tonight in 2005:

The number one determinant of how children are going to do in schools, of course, is their parents. The second most thing is the effectiveness of their teachers, and a lot of kids, unfortunately, don’t have high functioning or engaged or involved parents. This is the next best thing we can do.

And, again, in his address today on the subject of his dissatisfaction that his daughter’s teacher hasn’t assigned a stitch of homework all year…

“… I don’t think we should even raise it…”

And the governor’s complaints seem to collide with his statement after it was announced his older daughter would attend private school this year, instead of a public school in Eagan.

“Governor Pawlenty believes District 196 [Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan] is a great school system and his family is very satisfied with it,” (Spokesman Brian) McClung said.

Tangent time: There was a piece in the Wall St. Journal today called “What’s Gotten Into Kids These Days?

The article looks at why kids are having emotional meltdowns in pre-school, and we’re not talking the typical antics of four-year-olds here, according to The Juggle blog at the Journal.

The column offers some possible explanations, such as parents and schools are pushing children to read, write and do math too soon, at the expense of social and emotional skills. Time spent in group childcare from a young age can also be stressful for children, it says.

The column advises parents to take a number of steps to avert such problems, such as not introducing academics too early, and to look for low-stress classrooms and low student-teacher ratios (each teacher should be responsible for no more than 10 three and four-year-olds.) It’s also a good idea that preschool teachers have access to mental health and behavior experts. In the column, an expert intervened to stop one preschool from girl from throwing things and picking fights.

Pawlenty is, obviously, talking about a different age group in his complaint about the lack of homework coming home, but it does raise the question of our focus on how young we’re pushing academics on kids.

  • Candace L

    The “Gov” has never done much for the public schools, so it is no real surprise that his own child would transfer to a private school. Also, I do note that they live in a suburban district with better per pupil spending than our poor inner city schools. Has anyone had a child recently in the St. Paul Schools? Even with all the Levy money and all the hype with the new sup., they are still as bad as ever.The prinicipal and administrator salaries are sky high! Every year they loose tmore of their middle class student base. The Mineapolis teachers just reached agreement on a pathetic contract, as did St. Paul, Now let’s watch the administrators and directors get their raises. My hubby and I are glad we have moved to the burbs. If we could afford private school, we might try it too.