Herald JournalHerald Journal, Feb. 24, 2003

Klitzke on committee to plan Profile replacement

By Lynda Jensen

Lester Prairie sixth grade teacher David Klitzke was recently appointed on the prestigious academic standards committee at the Minnesota Legislature.

Klitzke has taught in the Lester Prairie School District for 29 years, and coaches junior high baseball.

He learned Feb. 13 that he was one of 77 people serving on the committee, which is intended new standards meant to replace the controversial Profile in Learning graduation requirements, which are in the process of being repealed.

"He found out when his friends heard it on WCCO," commented Klitzke's wife, Kathy, who works as a paraprofessional at Lester Prairie school.

About 2,100 people applied for the committee. There are eight sub-committees, of which Klitzke was assigned to Math Grades 6-8.

"We're very proud of him," commented Lester Prairie Dean of Students Joe Miller.

Another person from the area chosen was Buffalo parent Al Winters.

Winters was assigned to the English/reading grades 6-8 sub-committee. He is a strong proponent of parental input in developing standards, he said.

The committee members are from all walks of life, Kathy Klitzke said.

Their work is cut out for them, since the governor expects a preliminary draft by March 1, she said.

Klitzke is passionate about "common sense" education, he said.

"It's something he is adamant about," Kathy Klitzke said. "He felt they were doing the opposite of what they should be doing."

The eight sub-committees are composed of the following: English/reading grades k-2, 6-8 and 9-12; and math in grades k-2, 6-8 and 9-12.

Education Commissioner Cheri Yecke was directed to establish a task force to create new academic standards in five core areas: English, math, science, history, and geography.

Mixed reaction to the Profile's demise

Repealing the Profile is in progress, with the Minnesota House voting two weeks ago to repeal it. The Senate will take up the issue next.

This Legislative action fetched a mixed reaction from staff at the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted school district and Lester Prairie.

"It needed to be overhauled," Miller said.

Good things came from it, but the overall structure became too cumbersome, Miller said.

The fact that the new committee is focussing on core curriculum is a step in the right direction, Miller said.

Both Curriculum Director Dean Wessman and Elementary Principal Julie Millerbernd expressed misgivings about seeing the Profile go, to the school board during its meeting Tuesday.

"I don't want to go backwards," Wessman said, saying that he is concerned about moving to performance-only based education, if this is what happens.

It's possible that schools will return to a "teach it-test it" habit, which is what they were doing 10 years ago, Wessman said. If this is the case, education will not be better off, he said.

Millerbernd echoed this sentiment, saying that she is not necessarily happy to see the Profile going.

Regarding the new standards, Governor Tim Pawlenty set parameters that include making sure the academic standards are clear, concise, measurable and grade-appropriate without mandating a specific teaching methodology.

The committee would need to present its recommendations to the Legislature by Tuesday, April 15.

The Legislature would have to approve the standards before they are implemented.

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