Monday, April 19, 2010

Dettman steps down, Grogan exploring endorsement

On March 31, SD43 delegates received an e-mail from chair Larry Thompson, announcing that the endorsed candidate for House District 43B, Kathy Dettman, has ended her candidacy:
The purpose of this memo is to advise you of the need for a Special Endorsing Convention to consider the endorsement of a candidate for the House 43B seat. Due to unforeseen medical circumstances, Kathy Dettman has withdrawn from the race for this seat. She feels that these medical issues will prohibit her from devoting the time needed for her to run a successful campaign.
I wish Dettman all the best as she deals with her medical issues.

Brian Grogan, who ran unsuccessfully for this seat against DFLer John Benson in 2006, is considering throwing his hat into the ring again for the endorsement. As documented on this blog, Grogan and his campaign volunteers were locked and loaded for the campaign until he was defeated by Dettman on the first ballot. Understandably, he will seek the endorsement only with the enthusiastic support of the SD43 base. He has scheduled two meet-and-greet events at the Minnetonka Community Center to help gauge this support, on April 25 and May 10.

The SD43 Special Endorsing Convention is set for May 12, at the Minnetonka Community Center.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Tea Party, nor not?

Yesterday's Tax Day Tea Party rally at the Minnesota State Capitol helped to put some perspective on the self-proclaimed Tea Party movement, a little over a year after Rick Santelli's famous rant on CNBC put "Tea Party" into the twenty-first century political vernacular.

In a remarkably tone-deaf speech, Lt. Col. Joe Repya said that the Tea Party movement must become a permanent political party, or face irrelevance, "like Ron Paul" supporters. Apparently Repya failed to notice or chose to ignore the Ron Paul supporters in the audience, including one holding a large "RON PAUL WAS RIGHT" sign behind the lecturn. To the shout of a few "boos" from Ron Paul supporters and non-supporters alike, with a just few words Repya may have sealed his own irrelevance within the Tea Party movement.

Not only is the Tea Party movement not a political party in the traditional sense, its members are generally against the idea of it ever becoming one. Leaders at yesterday's rally in Saint Paul stated that they will not endorse any candidates, although one of the headline speeches was delivered (via telephone from Washington, D.C.) by U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN6), and representatives from various campaigns, including those from Republican gubernatorial endorsement candidate Tom Emmer, were present. Emmer's chief rival, Marty Seifert, appeared at the Rochester Tea Party rally.

The rally itself experienced some of the planners' rookie logistical mistakes, after a stellar opening act featuring our fellow bloggers and Northern Alliance Radio Network personality Mitch Berg and's Ed Morrissey, local entrepreneur and speaker Katie Kieffer, and Bachmann. (Rally organizer Toni Backdahl acknowledged wearily, "I learned a few things.")

The Tea Party movement is not at its core about winning elections. That is the function of political parties. As radio talk show host Jason Lewis has explained, many conservatives are disillusioned with supporting politicians and parties with the initials GOP who, once elected, seemingly abandon core principles (fiscal responsibility, limited government, low taxation) in favor of political expediency (some would say "necessity.") Governing is certainly more difficult than campaigning. While avoiding political party status, the Tea Party also avoids having any incumbents and their baggage of voting records and political history.

Many members of the decentralized, amorphous Tea Party movement will choose to channel their energies to working within a traditional political party, support like-minded candidates, influence the public dialog, and move public policy back to the center right for many years to come — while at the same time thinking of themselves as outsiders and enjoying the freedoms of that status. They may sometimes seem a bit disorganized, but like the ragtag revolutionaries of 1776, the modern-day Tea Partiers may someday win against the odds.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Race To The Top: same song, different tune

In case my last post left you with the impression that this blogger and conservatives in general are swooning over the Obama education initiative Race To The Top because it throws us a few reform bones, our friend Dr. Karen Effrem, M.D. of EdAction and EdWatch reminds us that the thing about federal education funding is that ultimately, who pays the piper calls the tune.

As Effrem explains, Race To The Top (RTTP) is pretty much an encore of No Child Left Behind, with a quieter, more pleasing melody:
With the nearly one trillion dollars spent for the stimulus as well as the trillions spent or proposed for the federal budget, health care, and cap and trade legislation one might reasonably wonder why a few billion dollars for more federal education spending is any big deal. The answer is that federal government is using this program to bribe states to accept even more federal control of education, a constitutionally and traditionally state function.

This dangerous trend of more federal control of education was greatly accelerated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. However because of the intense opposition engendered by NCLB from all points on the political spectrum and the difficulty that the Obama administration has run into trying to implement its expansive and statist domestic agenda, RTTT is accomplishing more of that same federal control without having to go through the messy process of reauthorizing the controversial NCLB.

This most recent education bill follows the same big-government statist tune that has been sung by Democrats and Republicans for decades. The parties may change, but the song remains the same: as government expands, liberty contracts.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Pawlenty challenges Minnesota to lead rather than "get dragged"

On Tuesday, Governor Tim Pawlenty simultaneously stood up for meaningful education reforms and tried to position the state to win second-round federal Race to the Top education reform dollars.

"The only question in this room is going to be 'Do you want to get dragged there, or do you want to lead to that point?'" said Pawlenty. "I suggest we lead because this is going to happen. It will happen some time in the next 3-10 years."

Sometimes politics makes for truly odd bedfellows. The Pawlenty administration and education reform advocates are finding themselves supporting some of the significant aspects of the Obama administration's Race to the Top initiative, while many Democrats and the teachers unions, strong supporters of candidate Obama in 2008, oppose them, including:
  • Alternative teacher licensure - allowing non-traditional candidates like mid-career professionals alternative paths becoming licensed teachers
  • Pay for performance - linking teacher pay to student performance, even more than Minnesota's current, optional Q Comp program

Conservatives generally and the Pawlenty administration in particular have been advocating for these types of reforms since at least the late 1990s. From the nation's first charter school laws to replacing the process-oriented Profile of Learning with knowledge-based academic standards, to Q Comp, Minnesota has often led the way in education reform, rather than let itself be dragged by Washington, D.C. educrats to improving its public school system.

There is no reason for Minnesota to wait for yet another federal subsidy before implementing more nation- and world-leading education reforms. According to the U.S. and state constitutions, education is a function of the various states, not the federal government. With the right leadership, Minnesota can close the achievement gap, lower costs, and put more control of the schools in the hands of local school boards and parents. That would be change we could all believe in.