In the Spotlight

News & Features
Back to School '99
By Tim Pugmire

Minnesota's schoolchildren are returning to school in a different environment than that which ended in June. Students now worry about whether they're safe in schools, the return of the Profile of Learning and an increase in funding from the Legislature has resulted in new expectations and requirements of the students, and a shortage of teachers and principals enanges their ability to learn.

Minnesota Public Radio's Tim Pugmire is examining aspects of the Minnesota school system during the 1999-2000 school year.


It's Not Like The Old Days
The comfort level in many schools changed forever last April when 14 students and a teacher died in Colorado's Columbine High School. The school year ended last spring under a cloud of fear and confusion. Threats and rumors of violence disrupted the routines in many Minnesota schools. Most Minnesota students return to school this week, and school administrators say they're trying hard to assure parents their children will be safe.
Read | Listen



The Profile of Learning Survives
Minnesota schools begin a second year of classes this week under the graduation standards system, known as the Profile of Learning. The complex system of applied-learning requirements was expected to be dumped or dramatically altered during the legislative session, but neither happened. Now, school districts and teachers are expected to push ahead and make the Profile work.
Read | Listen



The Politics of the Profile
Last spring, opponents of the Profile had a big impact at the State Capitol with protests and constituent phone calls, and they convinced the Minnesota House to vote to scrap the system altogether; a move that ultimately failed in the Senate. Despite their near-success, opponents of the Profile say the news media have misrepresented their positions and portrayed them as kooks, and they say the people of Minnesota don't really know what's at stake.
Read | Listen



Who Greets The Kids?
Minnesota schools are having an increasingly hard time hiring good principals. Superintendents say fewer people are applying for principal jobs, and many of those applicants lack the experience needed to meet the growing demands of the job. It's a nationwide trend that some predict is reaching crisis proportions.
Read | Listen


The Basic Basic
Minneapolis schools are trying to get back to the most basic of basics for obtaining a good education: showing up for school.
Read | Listen


Free Agent Teaching
The teacher shortage has done wonders for salaries and job security. But, at what price?
Read | Listen