I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.
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WILLMAR -- U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson said he flew to Washington early this week thinking he would vote against a $26 billion emergency jobs bill. "I don't think we should be spending new money," he said during a visit Friday to Willmar. Peterson did vote for the bill to provide funding for Medicaid and to save public sector jobs. In the end, he was won over by a plan to pay for it through cuts in future funding for food stamps and by closing tax loopholes.
Minnesota's public schools and their students seem to have held steady this year in the state's assessment of how well the schools are teaching reading and math. Statewide, the number of schools that are listed as making adequate yearly progress was about the same, but students' scores improved. AYP is a measurement of annual performance on state-wide assessment tests ad-ministered each spring.
Harlan Madsen and John Cunningham will appear on the general election ballot for the Kandiyohi County Board seat from District 5. With all precincts reporting in Tuesday's primary, Mad-sen, the incumbent, led John Cunningham, 613 to 335, a margin of 59 percent to 32 percent. Ron Sammons had 97 votes, or 9 percent. Madsen and Cunningham will go on to the general election for the seat representing the southern portion of the county.
WILLMAR -- Watch for YouTube videos of Willmar School Board members soon. Superintendent Jerry Kjergaard asked board members at their meeting Monday to sit down in front of a camera and explain why they voted to support the district's operating levy referendum. Kjergaard said the videos will be posted on YouTube, with links on the district's Web site.
WILLMAR -- A committee of citizens is forming to support the Willmar School District levy referendum on the Nov. 2 general election ballot. Committee members will be working this month to settle on a formal name and to prepare for a campaign that will begin in earnest after Labor Day, said organizer Michele Vogel.
Three candidates are running in the primary for the District 5 seat on the Kandiyohi County Board. Incumbent Harlan Madsen, a dairy and crop farmer from Lake Lillian, will face challengers John Cunningham, a farmer from Atwater, and Ron Sammons, a machine shop foreman from Atwater. Madsen was first elected to the seat in 1994. District 5 includes the townships of East Lake Lillian, Lake Elizabeth, Fahlun, Gennessee, Edwards, Lake Lillian, Roseland, Holland, Whitefield, Harrison and Kandiyohi in southern and southeastern Kandiyohi County. What is your number 1 campaign issue? Cunningham: Y
Jennifer Bestland looked over a list of items a fourth-grader and kindergartner need to head back to school. Son Shaun, 5, sat in a bright red Target cart Wednesday afternoon and pointed at everything he wanted, which was, well, everything. Shaun is excited to be starting kindergarten next month at Bert Raney Elementary School in Granite Falls. The bright packages and displays in the Willmar Target's school supply section had his eyes darting.
WILLMAR -- Don Thorpe of rural Willmar has filed to run for the Willmar School Board. Thorpe was the first person to file to run for the board, which will have three seats up for election this fall. Election Day is Nov. 2. Incumbents Dion Warne, Brad Schmidt and Mike Carlson previously announced that they would not run for re-election. Filing for offices in school districts and small cities without primaries opened statewide on Tuesday and will close on Aug. 17. Filing for statewide offices and local offices that do have primaries was in May.
WILLMAR -- Even on a quiet summer morning, the Adult Basic Education program in Willmar is a busy place. A handful of people are studying quietly at computers or desks in one room at the Jefferson Learning Center, while next door seven people are in a beginning English class. Across the hall, students are trickling in for the more advanced English class that is about to start. The ages vary widely -- some are in their 20s, while others are in their 50s or beyond. The common thread for these folks is that they are taking the initiative to make some change in their lives.