MREA profiled a series of capitol players in the summer of 2012 to provide members a look at who’s influencing education policy in our state. View the series.

MinnCAN, modeled after ConnCAN in Connecticut, began operating in Minnesota in January 2011 “to harness the tools of modern issue campaigns to build a statewide reform movement capable of securing and sustaining fundamental education reforms.” It is formally known as Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now.

Focus: MinnCAN focuses on getting state policy right to transform the way we educate Minnesota’s children. This does not mean trying to write every best practice into state law, but instead advancing three fundamental, self-reinforcing principles that work together to reward success, punish failure and raise the quality of everything in between:

  • Greater Choices: This includes encouraging high-performing school models to come to Minnesota and holding all charter schools to a high standard for results.
  • Greater AccountabilityBetter teacher evaluations, better school evaluations, and better systems for closing failed schools are all important ways of holding schools accountable.
  • Greater FlexibilityEach school, each community, and each child is different, and the system needs enough flexibility to allow the state to take those differences into account and increase student achievement for everyone. Flexibility also means making it easier for qualified, motivated college graduates to become teachers by expanding alternative pathways to certification. In addition, MinnCAN believes in giving principals and superintendents far more freedom in staffing decisions.

Goals: In the Playbook for Education in Minnesota, MinnCAN outlines three goals for the 2012 legislative session using a hockey theme:

  • Prize first string teachers: Keep high-performing teachers in the game by rewarding effective teachers and ending seniority based layoffs.
  • Scouting Minnesota’s MVP’s (Most Valuable Principals): Ensure that every Minnesota principal is judged upon a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation grounded in the performance of their school, with a majority of a principal’s evaluation based on student learning and teacher performance.
  • Launch the achievement power play: Expand schools that are working, close those that aren’t and improve the ones in-between.

Community: All of the 15 MinnCAN’s listed funders are based in the Twin Cities and three of them are foundations. The Walton Family Foundation also provides general operating support, according to 50CAN, the national organization that launched MinnCAN.

Leadership: MinnCAN has an eclectic 13-member board with 10 members from the Twin Cities. The three Greater Minnesota members are former Governor Al Quie, former Congressman Tim Penny, and Vernae Hasbargen, former Executive Director of MREA. It does not appear that any of board members serve a role in a school district. Dan Seller is the new Executive Director of MinnCAN.