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Advocate, author gives advice on growing Lee County workforce

Although the meeting was to be an educational session for educators, there were business and industry leaders on hand as well. In fact, when the Lee County Workforce Summit brought Dr. Kevin J. Fleming to the summit Monday morning at the Comfort Inn and Suites in Fort Madison, about 75 people were on hand to hear what he had to say.

“We invited Fleming in because we can gain a lot from his philosophies and teachings,” Dennis Fraise, Chief Operating Officer of Lee County EDG, said. “We wanted to have a regional audience to hear his story and give people a lot to think about in terms of workers.”

Fraise said there were many educators in the audience.

“That was part of the plan, but we also have many manufacturers and businesses as well,” Fraise said. “It’s a broad spectrum or people. It’s a great room.”

Dana Millard, Lee County EDG Marketing Communications Manager, said the meeting Monday was more than just the average workforce summit.

“It is an opportunity for our original partners to come together,” Millard said. “And we brought in Dr. Fleming to talk to the group on how we can move forward.”

Millard said the purpose of the meeting was to develop action steps to see how progress can be made in the workforce in Lee County.

Millard said Fleming has covered the change in the Lee County economy.

“It used to be that people were encouraged to go to a four-year university,” Millard said. “Now that needs to change and has started to change. Now people need to decide if they are looking for a job where skills are needed more than a degree is needed.”

She said traditionally students are asked what college they wanted to go to.

“Now you need to be asking students what type of employment you want to have,” Millard said. “You need to  be asking what you want to do … what impact do you want to make.”

Millard said according to Fleming, it is not good to go to a university just to get a degree.

“It is better for the student if they have an idea of what they want to do and what the end goal is,” Millard said.

Producer of the viral animation video “Success in the New Economy,” and author of the best seller, “(Re)Defining the Goal,” Fleming is an advocate for ensuring all students enter the labor market with a competitive advantage. He supports over 40 Career Technical Education programs as a Dean of Instruction, CTE at Norco College  (part of Riverside Community College District, California).  

He also serves as the Principal Investigator for the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Supply Chain Automation (Washington DC). Previously, he analyzed industry trends and workforce needs while providing customized geospatial labor market research for the largest higher education system in the world: the California Community Colleges. Dr. Fleming is a faculty member, and national speaker. He has earned two Bachelor’s degrees from Loyola Marymount University (Psychology Philosophy); a Master of Arts from The Ohio State University (Educational Policy Leadership), a MBA from the University of Redlands, and a Ph.D. in Education from Claremont Graduate University.

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‘The Making Of Our Digital Selves,’ And Advice For Education Reformers

Principal Anthony Madry stands in a noisy hallway at Central Academy of Excellence, greeting students.

“Good morning, good morning, good morning,” Madry says, fist bumping students as they pass. “Hey are we good?”

The student nods. “Yeah.”

Madry points to a young woman. “That’s Emily. Emily’s one of the best kids I have in this school. She’s one of my favorites. Don’t blush, please don’t blush.

“You try to learn most of the kids’ names, the reason being that’s the most honorable thing you can do,” Madry says.

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Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception and the Coming of Age of Adult Games

There’s an early moment in Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception where my amnesia-stricken character—dubbed Haku by a cute animal-hybrid girl—makes an accidental pass at the girl who saved his life, wondering aloud if it’d be appropriate that they’d share a room. “Planning to molest me, Haku?” inquires Kuon, the girl with white fluffy ears poking out of her raven-hued hair.

The scene singelhandedly reminded me that the game I was playing wasn’t always in the realm of this jarringly comedic and dramatic (with no means of balancing the two) visual novel and (extremely light) strategy RPG hybrid. At the series’ humble beginnings back in 2002, it was merely an adult visual novel. So, sorta-interactive porn.

Utawarerumono isn’t the only adult-skewing series that has reinvented itself for a broader audience. Last week saw the release of Akiba’s Beat, the latest in the Akihabara-based game series. Where once the series pegged players with destroying the clothes of others’ backs as its primary gameplay, now sees it turn elsewhere. Consequently, Akiba’s Beat hardly looks attached to the games before it at all: it quite literally strips away the clothes-removal mechanics of its predecessors Akiba’s Trip and Akiba’s Trip: Undead and Undressed, and ushers the series into a more typical action JRPG direction.

This is part of an ongoing trend with the adult games that become accidental hits in Japan. There are times when adult visual novels get ports to consoles, and take away all the sexual content (leaving everything to innuendos and imagination), such as the Playstation 2 and PSP port of School Days. School Days, both the game and the anime adaptation, are renowned not for the inherent sleaziness of its protagonist, but the consequences he faces after sleeping with seemingly every girl in sight. (Spoiler: it gets extremely violent.)

Fate/stay night, once just an adult game for PC, has since spawned a massively popular multimedia series encompassing anime spin-offs, video games, light novels, and more. The once sexually charged-nature of the series has long been left behind, as it’s followed a similar path as Utawarerumono. The once-adult-focused series have since emerged beyond the genre into something else entirely, though with its flirtatious nature kept in tact.

Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception isn’t a great game, at least not for players that aren’t already fans of the series. My favorite visual novels are often of the otome (dating sim) variety (so yes, admittedly very much more in my demo than the Utawarerumono series). My favorite dating sims and visual novels have a key element to entice the player: choices. Choices to determine how a relationship develops, sculpting your own character’s personality, and even directing where a story goes.

Utawarerumono offers no such satisfaction. Often, I found myself traipsing through hours upon hours of dialogue with little to no interaction other than moving text along. And while the characters were sometimes charming (Kuon, in particular, grows beyond her initial stereotypical cutesy anime girl tendencies into a sassy, strong-willed heroine), feeling like I had little to interact with them in terms of dialogue options made the visual novel parts of the experience a huge drag.

It doesn’t help that the strategy RPG parts—the typical tiled battles similar to what you’d find in Fire Emblem or Disgaea—are few and far in between. As I would wade through hours of text, I’d eventually be dropped into a strategic battle. Then, usually within minutes, the battle would wrap up victoriously, and it’d be back to the visual novel slog. In the hours I played of the 50-hour game, nothing engaged me to wanting to see more of it, even as I grew to like Kuon and others, and as the surprising, tense violence caught me off guard.

Given the eventual climactic cliffhanger moment the game supposedly culminates to after 50 hours (the direct sequel, Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth, will see this conclusion through in September of this year, with another 50+ hour game), it’s disheartening to realize all the non-interactive text and fleeting SRPG battles it will take to get there.

After playing Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception for awhile, I wondered what the series has lost and gained in doing away with its once explicitly sexual imagery, as other series have made a similar change. Are women less gamified rewards, and given more room to be characters outside of the male gaze? Or does getting rid of sex as a reward instead damage the relationships between the player and the characters they surround themselves with, now that the very intimate connection is virtually nonexistent? I’m not convinced of either—given the dense boring text and the poor first impressions upon meeting various characters, but it’s a development that shouldn’t be ignored in games that come from sexual beginnings. Because sometimes, maybe the lewdness mixed with everything else is what probably set it apart.

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Book excerpt: Ben Sasse’s ‘The Vanishing American Adult’ – ABC …

Excerpted from THE VANISHING AMERICAN ADULT by Senator Ben Sasse. Copyright © 2017 by Ben Sasse. Reprinted by arrangement with St. Martin’s Press. All rights reserved.

A Work Ethic Isn’t Inevitable

When I was little, mom would leave detailed lists of chores on the kitchen counter each summer morning for my siblings and me to complete before we could play baseball, ride bikes, or go swimming. And when I arrived at college, basically everyone with whom I became friends, a group from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds, had also done real work growing up. Not everyone had worked in the field like I had—most had spent summers in retail or taking orders at a fast- food place or sorting the mail or doing some other kind of grunt work at a local office—but it was at least a job with certain expectations and set hours. Because these new friends were from all regions of the country and because they confirmed my own childhood experiences of regular toil, I arrived at young adulthood in the early 1990s assuming that work was a near-universal component of American upbringing and maturation. I didn’t presume everyone was as gritty as Elda Sasse, but I knew that my siblings and I hoped we would one day prove as perseverant as she was—and I honestly believed that this was a universal aspiration. Without deliberate reflection, I assumed that basically all young people everywhere had similar placeholder role models in their minds, and thus that the transmission of a work ethic to each next generation was more or less inevitable.

This chapter is about how painfully wrong I was in that assumption. It’s also about why failing to transmit an ethic that productivity is essential to human flourishing will leave us at odds with how America and Americans came to be. Finally, this chapter aims to persuade you that there is almost nothing more important we can do for our young than convince them that production is more satisfying than consumption. Indeed, a hallmark of virtuous adulthood is learning to find freedom in your work, rather than freedom from your work, even when work hurts.

My passive assumption that all kids have some meaningful work ex- periences as teens was shattered in late 2009 when I arrived as president of Midland University. The university’s board of directors had hired me, as a 37-year-old, not because I had any special insight into shaping 18- to 22-year-olds, but because I was a “turnaround” guy who specialized in helping troubled companies become solvent. This liberal arts institution was in big trouble, in terms of both finances and enrollment, the latter at its lowest point in a century. My job was to tackle the college’s unsustainable deficits, skyrocketing debt, enrollment shortfalls, and flagging morale among faculty and staff.

None of my initial charter had anything to do with current students and their emotional health. Immediately upon arrival, however, it became apparent that in addition to dealing with other so-called “big picture” concerns of a university in crisis, I would also have to reshape the student affairs leadership and structure. It’s an odd experience arriving at a college as president in your thirties. In the first year I was regularly mistaken for a student, and not just by other students. Two visiting professors once asked me if I thought I had made the right choice—to enroll at Midland as a current undergraduate, they thought they were asking me. For many reasons, I didn’t have a conception of myself as an old guy, but I soon discovered that my experiences matriculating into college half a life ago, at age 18, were vastly different from those of our students.

When my team and I arrived at Midland, the school had been on the verge of missing payroll four months in a row, which would mean that families would miss mortgage payments. That’s a pretty urgent cri- sis. Yet finances might not have been the biggest problem at the school. More stunning to me was that it was an atypical experience for an in- coming freshman to have done really hard work, not even the sorts of elementary farm tasks common to Nebraska kids from the homesteaders of the 1860s until just a few years ago. Teenage life, I soon learned, had been stunningly remade in the two decades since I’d gone off to college. Elda’s and Elmer’s childhoods were far removed from these kids’ experiences and understanding.

Let’s be clear that there were many wonderful human beings and delightful students at Midland, but many of the teens I met upon arriving on campus also had an outsized sense of entitlement without any corresponding notion of accountability. For example, a student staged a sit-in in my office one day, announcing that he would not leave until I resolved a scheduling problem for him. He was upset that the registrar wouldn’t be offering a particular course he needed the following semester. Obviously, college presidents don’t usually solve the Rubik’s cube of course scheduling. The student was emphatic that he wasn’t leaving, and while I was clear that the course registrar had a job to do and that she did it well, I realized it might be a teachable moment, a chance for the student and me to have a conversation. At one point he proclaimed, “You need to figure this out. I pay tuition to go to this school, which means I pay your salary. So you work for me.”

Well, ummm . . . no. That isn’t how it works at all. My job did include serving him, but in a defined way. It was not my job, for instance, to wash his car or fetch him pizza on Friday night. I patiently explained that Midland exists for many people and many purposes; the board of directors hired me; and I serve at their pleasure—but that my leadership of the institution as a whole relies on my empowering a team of people to fulfill their specialized vocations. (Parenthetically, the registrar was right and the student wrong—the course in question was to be scheduled only every other year.) I then gently pointed out to the student that he was at- tending the university on scholarship. In truth then, he worked for—or had a debt to—the generous donors who made his scholarship possible. But even if he’d been paying for his education himself, the college is a living institution of partners, with thought-out, intentional divisions of labor. He was approaching the situation and this whole living-learning- working community only as a consumer. He was not thinking or talking or acting like a maturing young man aware of the dignity of the work of the many other people in the equation.

During the five years I was president, we conducted surveys annually about the highs and lows of students’ university experience. The survey takeaway that repeatedly woke me in the middle of the night was the aching sense not just that the students lacked a work ethic, but more fundamentally that they lacked an experiential understanding of the difference between production and consumption. Dispiritingly, stu- dents overwhelmingly highlighted their desire for freedom from responsibilities. The activities they most enjoyed, they reported, were sleeping in, skipping class, and partying. A few mentioned canceled classes as the best part of their four years. I too love a good Midwestern blizzard, but I loved them in college so that we could explore the beauty, or ski, or snowmobile—rather than merely be free from class. Almost nowhere did the student surveys reveal that they had the eyes to see freedom to categories—to read, to learn, to be coached, to be mentored in an internship.

If you have done any real work, you begin to see a broad range of work differently. And if you’ve been reflective about your and other people’s work, you start to ask questions about where goods and services come from. Who did the work that got these non-Nebraska items to this store in this Nebraska small town? As hard work is baked into your bones, you begin to feel great gratitude for the other workers who built the stuff and plotted the distribution system that got these toasters and sneakers and books to this place. On the other hand, if you’ve never worked, you are more likely blind to the fundamental distinction be- tween production and consumption. And these students, I learned from interviewing many of them, had mostly not done any hard work prior to arriving in college.

Although it is not universally fair, millennials have acquired a collective reputation as needy, undisciplined, coddled, presumptuous, and lacking much of a filter between their public personas and their inner lives. As one New York Times story about millennials in the workplace put it, managers struggle with their young employees’ “sense of entitlement, a tendency to overshare on social media, and frankness verging on insubordination.”

“Well, what’s the alternative? Are you asking us to be fake?” one young woman asked me after a speech in which I’d made a passing comment about the virtues of “deferred gratification.” No, of course not. Of course we all struggle with selfishness, and of course there are times to simply have fun, avoid responsibility, and seek escape—or perhaps, as noted in the last chapter, to pause the daily churn to reflect. But growing up involves coming to recognize the distinction between who we still are today and who we seek to become. Our hope is that our young people will begin to own the Augustinian awareness described in chapter 1— that not everything we long or lust for is something we should really want. Healthy people can admit that there are unhealthy yearnings. It is not “fake” to aim to mature. And it is not fake to begin modeling the desired behavior even before it is a full and fair representation of who you are in the moment. I remain selfish and impatient today, but it is surely not fake or wrong to seek to sublimate these traits. I want to grow beyond who I am today, and I aim to begin better modeling that idealized future right now.

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This Week in Fiction: Samanta Schweblin on an Adult Man’s Infantilization

Your story in this week’s issue, “The Size of Things,” involves an adult who seems to regress to childhood. Should we read it as a supernatural story or a metaphorical one?

There is a gesture at the end toward the fantastic, it’s true, but it’s only a wink, and the story could all be read as merely a feeling of the narrator’s. It could be the story of an adult man trying to escape his mother’s control, who, in his desperation, becomes infantilized and takes refuge with another family. Really, if there is anything beyond that, it’s an idea that I’d like to trigger in the reader’s mind, but that isn’t formally written on the page.

We have the sense that Enrique’s mother has resisted his growing up—that she tries to keep him a child by asserting her power over him, physically and verbally. Is that what’s going on?

Yes. Even though we only actually meet that possessive and authoritarian mother in the final lines, it’s something that we can gradually deduce from Enrique himself, from the beginning of the story.

Do you think the couple who run the toy store are complicit in what happens to Enrique—or just innocent observers?

Their intentions are good, but they end up being passive accomplices to Enrique Duvel’s regression. Maybe it’s because for them it’s easier to deal with a child than with an adult, or maybe—because they seem to be a childless couple—they have a need to care for someone else, to feel needed themselves. In any case, it’s a strange relationship that clearly fills a need for all three of them.

Were you thinking of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” when you wrote this?

I wasn’t thinking of it, but, it’s true, the two pieces have points in common. It did occur to me, rereading the story for this publication, that the last line is very much like the ending of Roald Dahl’s story “The Man from the South”: both narrators have a revelation while looking at another character’s hand. And it’s strange because “The Size of Things” is an old story—I must have been twenty-two or twenty-three when I wrote it, and I read Roald Dahl many years later. I love it when those things happen. I like to think that at some point Roald and I passed through the same place—some corner of the collective unconscious—that caught our attention in a similar way.

In Argentina, the story appeared as part of a collection of stories, in which many things are not exactly what they seem or undergo transformations. Is the idea of metamorphosis important to your work?

Yes, it was for that book in particular. Writing it, I was at a stage when I felt as though ideas, to be strong, needed the power of more classic forms. It was a learning stage—though I’m still learning, really. But I do feel that, although the things I’m interested in writing about haven’t changed in the slightest, the forms through which I approach them have, and doors have gradually opened.

Do you have any models when you’re writing short stories? Any favorite stories you keep going back to?

I have my list of favorite stories, of course, although it changes every year. But I am fairly intuitive in my writing, and I feel that the clues to how each story should be written lie within the idea for the story itself. Even so, I think that past readings, even the stories I have ostensibly forgotten, are always there working silently in my mind—even if, when I sit down to write, I’m not thinking of them directly.

Your novel “Fever Dream” was recently published in the U.S. How does the experience of being published here differ from your experience in Argentina?

Being translated into English, for a young Latin American author, is a kind of prize; in the eyes of Spanish-speaking critics and readers, it’s almost a consecration. And this, along with the novel’s nomination for the Man Booker International Prize, has given it an unexpected push, which likewise led to translations into other languages. If the book had remained in the Spanish-speaking world only, it would have been difficult for it to reach so many readers. So I feel very grateful for and happy about everything that has happened since the book’s English translation.

(Translated, from the Spanish, by Megan McDowell.)

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Sen. Weber, colleagues pass higher education, ag, environment budgets

On Sunday evening, Sen. Bill Weber (R-Luverne) and his Senate Republican colleagues led the way in passing final conference committee reports that fund Minnesota’s higher education, agricultural, and environment budget areas. The reports, which are the result of negotiations between the Senate, House, and Gov. Dayton, passed with broad, bipartisan support.

“The benefits of our budgets will be felt by southwestern Minnesotans, as well as citizens across the state,” said Sen. Weber, who served on the conference committee for the agricultural budget. “With a budget surplus exceeding a billion dollars, our budgets prioritize programs proven to work while making a significant investment into the future of our state.”

The omnibus agricultural budget provides $123.5 million in funding for agricultural-related programs in Minnesota. In this amount is funding for programs critical to rural communities, including funding for combating noxious weeds, such as Palmer amaranth, fresh food access in rural communities, and language clarifying that ‘verification of need’ does not supersede ‘label is the law.’ Finally, the bill provides funding for grants that will be available to new and expanding agricultural facilities that provide significant impact to the region, including truShrimp, a rapidly-expanding shrimp production facility located in Balaton.

The higher education budget invests $3.28 billion in Minnesota’s post-secondary institutions and students, workforce training, and research – an increase of $210 million over the previous budget. In addition to a $1.65 million increase in funding to Minnesota West Community and Technical College, supplemental funding will also be available for two-year community and technical colleges in Greater Minnesota, including the Minnesota West system. Funding for programs aimed at addressing our state’s shortage of qualified senior and health care workers, along with the teacher shortage felt in many rural communities, is included in the bill.

Addressing the buffer strip requirement is a primary component of the environment bill, which implements a grace period of eight months for those whose buffer strips may not be in compliance with the requirements. Those implementing buffers can work with local soil and water conservation districts for alternative practices. In addition, the bill includes language exempting cities from Pollution Control Agency water quality standards if their wastewater treatment facilities have less than 16 years of operation, mitigating potentially-enormous costs to city governments.

“Southwestern Minnesota is home to a vibrant agricultural economy and unparalleled natural beauty. Our environment and ag budgets focus on the future and address the many concerns brought to us by farmers, landowners, cities, and counties. In addition, our higher education bill provides Minnesota students – the leaders of tomorrow – access to a quality, affordable post-secondary education, ensuring students and institutions have every opportunity to succeed.” Sen. Weber continued. “These bills will do a lot of good for our entire state.”

Sen. Weber is in his second term representing Senate District 22, which includes communities in Cottonwood, Jackson, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Pipestone, Redwood, and Rock counties. In addition to serving as chair of the Agriculture, Rural Development, and Housing Policy Committee, Sen. Weber served on the conference committees for the agriculture and education budget.

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Australian v-cs unite against cuts and performance-linked funding

Australian vice-chancellors have unanimously opposed government proposals to cut university funding and increase tuition fees, while concerns have also been raised about plans to introduce performance-based funding for teaching.

The proposals, which were first announced by education minister Simon Birmingham earlier this month, have now been formalised in new draft legislation.

As part of the plans, university funding will be cut by 2.5 per cent and tuition fees will increase by 7.5 per cent. Meanwhile, there are plans to ensure that 7.5 per cent of teaching funding will be “performance-based”.

The government also announced that funded postgraduate places would be reduced by 3,000 nationally and move to a new voucher system where scholarships are allocated to students rather than universities.

Universities Australia said that there was “unanimous opposition” to the proposals to cut funding and increase fees among leaders of the country’s universities – a stance also expressed in sector leaders’ comments to Times Higher Education.

Ian Jacobs, vice-chancellor of the University of New South Wales, said that the announcements were of “major concern” and “reveal a lack of recognition by the government of the nexus between a vibrant university sector and the long-term health of Australia’s society and economy”.

He added that there is a “danger” that the metrics used for performance-based funding in teaching will be “poorly thought through, result in perverse incentives and/or generate pointless administrative activity”.

Michael Spence, vice-chancellor of the University of Sydney, said that while the government has provided only limited details regarding the changes to teaching funding, “there appear to be similarities with [England’s] teaching excellence framework”.

“If improving teaching quality was a concern, we would not be seeing university funding cuts of A$2.8 billion (£1.6 billion),” he added.

“A major concern is that none of the performance metrics flagged to date relate to research. Currently, 20 to 30 per cent of government university funding in Australia is intended to support research, so this change would likely place even greater pressure on universities to cross-subsidise already under-funded research.”

Margaret Gardner, chair of Universities Australia, said that any performance metrics “would need to be worked through meticulously and with great caution to ensure that any such system did not penalise universities that serve communities with the highest rates of unemployment and social disadvantage, or those with student demographics that have the biggest challenges in degree completions”.

She added that the proposed postgraduate voucher system “would be a profound shift in the way in which Australian university funding operates” and “one that I don’t think has been the subject of extensive discussion within the university sector nor the Australian community”.

Attila Brungs, vice-chancellor of the University of Technology Sydney, said that “in theory” the proposal to tie a proportion of teaching funding to “performance on transparency, student retention and graduate success provides positive incentives for universities to meet student and societal needs”.

“However, it will succeed – or fail dreadfully – depending on the implementation details, which unfortunately have not yet been developed,” he said.

He added that while he did not think the government was looking for universities to become more teaching focused, one of the “likely effects” of the changes “will be the degradation of Australian universities’ research capacity and their ability to provide research-inspired teaching”. 

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Budget negotiations: ‘slow, steady progress’; provision Mark Dayton called ‘vouchers’ gone –

Minnesota lawmakers are dragging themselves toward their Monday finish line, making what Lt. Gov. Tina Smith called “slow, steady progress” on completing a two-year $46 billion state budget.

To get it done, Democrats will have to let go of some of their demands for more spending and Republicans will need to abandon some of the policy changes they wanted.

On Sunday, both sides gave up some centerpieces of their agendas in pursuit of a final deal.

Republicans dropped an effort to give tax breaks in return for donations to scholarship funds for low-income students at private schools. They called the idea “opportunity scholarships,” but DFL Gov. Mark Dayton derided them as “vouchers” that would siphon needed money from public schools.

“That is out,” said Senate Taxes Committee Chair Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes. “The governor didn’t want it. … These kids’ futures for now will be again sacrificed at the altar of the omnipotent special interests.”

Though Dayton won that battle, he lost one over public college funding. The budget for higher education will give the state’s colleges and universities $3.2 billion over the next two years. That’s more than Republicans initially wanted but $100 million less than Dayton originally proposed.


Even as negotiations continued on the state budget, lawmakers sent several parts of the budget to Dayton’s desk.

The higher education spending bill includes $210 million more in higher education funding, with $106 million going to the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and $54.6 million for the University of Minnesota.

Sen. Michelle Fischbach, R-Paynesville, said the money was an improvement from earlier proposals and required Minnesota State colleges and universities to keep tuition costs in check.

Democrats said the compromise was insufficient when the state had such a large budget surplus. Sen. Jason Isaacson, DFL-Shoreview, had the strongest words, saying it was “unconscionable” and “punitive” toward the University of Minnesota and would result in big tuition increases.

Minnesota Senate vote on a higher education budget bill, May 21, 2017 (David Montgomery/Pioneer Press.)
Minnesota Senate vote on a higher education budget bill, May 21, 2017 (David Montgomery/Pioneer Press.)

“We have failed,” Isaacson said. “Shame on us. Shame on the governor. Shame on everyone involved in accepting this framework. This bill does not make Minnesota a better place.”

The Senate approved the bill on a 39-28 vote, with all Republicans voting for it plus five Democrats. The House approved the measure on a 78-54 vote.

The Senate also joined the House in voting overwhelmingly for a budget to fund farm-related programs. That sends it to the governor for his signature.


2017-05-21-environment budget in the SenateProgress elsewhere was, as the lieutenant governor said as she left a negotiating session with lawmakers, slow.

It wasn’t until shortly before 11 p.m. that lawmakers finally sent a budget funding environmental programs and state parks to Dayton. The measure allows farmers eight additional months to comply with the state’s vegetative buffer law. Republicans had previously wanted greater changes to the signature Dayton law to protect waters and the governor wanted no changes.

2017-05-21-environment budget in the HouseMinnesotans will also pay about $23 million more in fees for hunting and fishing licenses, snowmobile and all-terrain vehicle registrations and to visit state parks.

The plans for taxes, health care programs, roads and bridges and public schools were not public Sunday night.

Meanwhile, private talks continued about a statewide infrastructure bill to fund water projects, college buildings and local infrastructure. Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said House and Senate negotiators had meetings with gubernatorial staff and had a “pretty good idea” what would be in and out of a “bonding bill.”


Lawmakers only have until midnight Monday to finish the work in their regular session. But they could come back for a special session to finish the last of their work.

“What I’m hearing more is that we’re not going to finish on time Monday, and we’re going to have to be around here a few more days,” said Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth. 

House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Crown-area Republican, said late Sunday that he is hopeful the Legislature could meet the Monday midnight deadline, but he added that some of the bills may take 12 hours or more for the legislative staff specialists to draft.

“You want to make sure you get that right. We really need to come to agreement here very shortly on most of it to make sure we have the time to get it done,” he said.

A drafting error in a 2016 rushed tax cut bill led to Dayton vetoing it.

A brief “get-it-done” special session is not unheard of. In 2010, when Republican Tim Pawlenty when governor, he called the Legislature into a special session that lasted just a few hours.

“I think a short overtime … is not a big deal,” said former Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher, a Democrat who was speaker from 2007 to 2011. “I think people care more that they complete their work.”

David Montgomery and Bill Salisbury contributed to this report.

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How to succeed in high school: Advice from Atlanta’s top students

Extracurricular activities: Dual enrollment: Georgia State University, varsity volleyball, self-founded literacy enrichment program (volunteer organization), mock trial, Atlanta Public Schools Honors Chorus, piano, National Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honor Society 

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17-Year-Old Kenwood Student to Receive PhD This Year


Courtesy of Wanda Kellog

A 17-year-old living in Kenwood is on track to receive her Ph.D. this year. She sat down with The Maroon to discuss her accelerated educational path, her career, and her advice for college students.

Thessalonika Arzu-Embry graduated high school at 11 years old, completed college with a degree in psychology at 14 years old, earned an M.B.A. at 16 years old, and is currently finishing her doctorate. Her dissertation is about how dreams and everyday life influence each other.

Arzu-Embry explained that because of her upbringing in a military family, she was homeschooled and introduced to a special form of discipline at a young age.

“It’s a lot of discipline and a lot of travelling,” Arzu-Embry said of her childhood years on different naval bases. “When I was travelling around, I had really early schedules. It was like five in the morning to 10 at night.”

Arzu-Embry noted that she never doubted her decision to pursue a highly accelerated education, even when she was the youngest student in all of her classes. She explained that the age difference between her and her classmates is more obvious in graduate school than it was during her undergraduate studies but that her older peers have adjusted to it.

“I think it’s an inspiration to a lot of students who are sitting in class with me and learning whatever age they are, whether an older student, or a younger student, or an average freshman trying to fit in, that they’re inspired to keep going and learn new things,” Arzu-Embry said.

Despite her family’s frequent travel, her homeschooling, and her enrollment in university courses, Arzu-Embry explained that she still finds time to socialize with people her own age though her church youth group. Once a week, the youth ministry she attends hosts pizza parties for young members to fraternize and listen to music.

When asked what it means to be a genius, Arzu-Embry explained that anyone could be a genius regardless of academics. “A genius is someone who makes wise choices in their life, and they are not proud. If they are proud, they are not a genius. That’s what I think,” Arzu-Embry said.

Arzu-Embry has written five books in which she provides advice for people seeking to accelerate their education, learn financial investing, and understand global injustices through a biblical lens. Two more books are coming soon, Arzu-Embry said, but those will focus on navigating the real estate market and how aspiring authors can publish books in as little as a week while maximizing profits.

In addition to her roles as author and motivational speaker, Arzu-Embry is an app developer. Her current projects include an educational app for CPS schools about black history, a weather app for pilots to use while they’re flying, and an app for a church’s marriage class program through which couples can build stronger relationships.

Though she has no plans to pursue additional degrees, Arzu-Embry has other aspirations. She plans on buying her mother a house, spearheading a project to construct a high-rise building in Chicago, and pursuing a full-time career in business.

When asked what advice she had for UChicago students, Arzu-Embry stressed the importance of making academic plans, being careful about expenses, and making daily schedules.

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