Put Kids First - Making Public Schools Work for Everyone Sign Up For Updates

About this blog

Put Kids First is about how to make public schools work better for everyone, especially for children of color. This includes actually creating and designing schools around the needs of students as opposed to adults.

Sounds simple, yes?  But our schools too often act like a jobs program for adults that does education on the side.  I’m a progressive Democrat. I attended public schools. My children attended public schools. I believe in the power of public education.  So I think this is a problem.

In Minneapolis, two-thirds of our students are children of color. Less than 30 percent of our black, Hispanic and Indian students are reading or doing math at grade level; less than 45 percent graduate from high school on time.

Trust me, if schools in Minneapolis were failing white kids like they’re failing brown kids, we’d have already changed the system to work better for them. We’d have changed the staff, the school day, the school year, the curriculum, whatever it took, because if white kids were failing, holy shit, it would be a big-time disaster.

But when brown kids are failing…..well, in Minnesota, we Democrats seem to just lie back and talk about Finland.

I’m a long-time activist who has spent years battling Republicans on multiple issues. So it bugs me to watch my beloved Democratic tribe enable and defend a system that’s hard-wired for mediocrity and really screws over children of color.

It ain’t progressive. It ain’t right.  One of the goals of this blog is to get my fellow Dems to suck less on this issue.

The other is to blog about ed reform which is really about race, class, kids, families, immigrants,  back-room deals, millions of dollars, great characters, pitched battles,  unlikely alliances, building a ladder to the middle class and more—and have a helluva good time doing it.

FAQ

1. Is this a front for some right-wing union-busting group?

Nope. If you want to bust unions, go find a different blog.  I support collective bargaining. I got my first union card at age 17 and was a proud member of the Newspaper Guild when I worked as a reporter. Unions gave us the weekend and a living wage, plus a bunch of other things, for which I am grateful.

But here’s the deal: no other union reaches as deeply into people’s lives for as long and affects what matters to them most—their children–than the teacher’s union.

So when the public sees a teachers’ union protecting lousy teachers and blocking much-needed changes in the schools, this does more damage to the labor movement than anything the right wing can come up with. Ditto for the principals’ union.

I think the current union model is moving towards an adapt-or-die point. Call me a labor-loving leftist, but I’d rather see unions adapt to the needs of students and schools in the 21st century and go on to thrive with lots of public support.

2. Who pays your salary?

 No one. I’m a volunteer.

3. What is your comment policy?

To paraphrase the old Leslie Gore song:” It’s my blog and I’ll delete if I want to…..”  So to avoid that:

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