THUMBS UP: Among the policy changes in the new education bill recently passed by the Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton is a new approach on teacher evaluation that, for the most part, replaces seniority as the main factor in a teachers' ability to keep their jobs. Under the new system, annual reviews of teachers will be more directly tied to student performance. This appears to be good policy because not only does it objectively reward good teachers and enables them to improve what they do in the classroom, it gives individual school districts more freedom to take action against bad ones. Student test scores and student engagement will account for 35 percent of a teacher's overall evaluation. The bill opens up real potential for positive change among our hard-working teachers.
THUMBS DOWN: It was interesting to watch President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner go head-to-head (sort of) on national TV Monday night in back-to-back speeches concerning the nation debt. Obama spoke at 8 p.m. and openly criticized Washington and how the government has turned "dysfunctional." Boehner countered with what amounted to little more than a glorified campaign speech. Give him credit though, he told it like it is and, like Obama, took his own jab at Washington politics. But while the clock continues to tick toward the Aug. 2 deadline and potential default, neither did little to suggest any sort of compromise is attainable when it comes to solving the nation's debt crisis, and it's ironic that these two leaders would openly criticize the very political process they're key figures in (not that we disagree). At least they were pointing fingers at themselves and not just the other party. But, we ask, what did they accomplish? Did you come away from those speeches feeling better, worse, or indifferent? Unfortunately all they succeeded in doing was gaining face time in front of a national audience -?they told us what we already know. What we don't know - and what they obviously don't know - is how the two sides are going to eventually come together and - here's that word again - compromise, so we can get on with our lives without the fear of this country spiralling further down an already slippery slope.
THUMBS UP: Two groups that were able reach a compromise this week are the National Football League and the NFL?Players Association. The two sides reached an agreement Monday to end the 4 1/2-month lockout, meaning there will be a football season this year. Not only that, the deal will keep things running for the next 10 years. True, it was a battle between rich owners and overpaid players - people who seem to have it all and just want more - but unlike politicians, they at least proved the game of give-and-take can have a favorable outcome, even when you're dealing with a billion-dollar business. And now that their differences have been aired and settled on, football fans all over the country can refocus on what's really important - their fantasy drafts.