Senator gets frank about education

Al Franken makes an appearance at Park

Shoshi Leviton and Sophie Yarosh

As district faculty gathered in the high school auditorium, they were greeted by U.S. Sen. Al Franken who spoke to them, stressing the importance of education.

“I was very well educated and ultimately it (school) taught me the value of education,” Franken said.

Franken focused on three major themes at his Sept. 1 appearance at Park: the history of St. Louis Park, growth over proficiency and support for mental health.

The idea of concentrating on growth especially stood out to Principal Scott Meyers.

“I loved how he talked about focusing on growth. I think that’s an important indicator for us in education. We looked at proficiency tests for so many years so I think growth is a good place to start focusing some energy,” Meyers said.

During his speech, Franken discussed some of the negative aspects of the No Child Left Behind Act. He then went on to explain the importance of growth over proficiency.  

“Under No Child Left Behind, it forced teachers to focus on the kids just below and just above the line of proficiency. That’s perverse. It forced a race towards the middle,” Franken said. “Measuring growth to me is so important. Measuring the growth of each kid and that way you focus on every child.”

Teacher Brad Brubaker said the idea of measuring growth stuck with him the most and said he believes that it’s a step in the right direction.

“I think just the whole comment about being able to test and measure improvement not just trying to hit some proficiency level, but being able to actually monitor improvement is a huge change,” Brubaker said.