Ross Corson

Ross Corson is a writer living in Minneapolis.

Recent Articles

Le Sueur-Henderson: Minnesota New Country School

I n 1993, an innovative group of parents and teachers received permission to create the Minnesota New Country School. Despite its early success, the school has demonstrated how even the most successful charter schools are unlikely to improve a state's educational system. Opened in 1994, the school is located in the small town of Le Sueur (population 3,800), whose school district merged with one from the neighboring town of Henderson (population 750) in 1992 to form a new school district with a total enrollment of 1,400. An otherwise traditional rural community in the Minnesota River Valley, it is among the last places one would expect to find a progressive open school with a high-tech spin—no textbooks or classes or grades, but plenty of computers. With an emphasis on self-directed learning and a computer-infused curriculum, Minnesota New Country School is where John Dewey meets Nicholas Negroponte. Lying outside commuting range to the Twin Cities metropolitan area, Le Sueur...

Choice Ironies: Open Enrollment in Minnesota

Supporters and critics of school choice throughout the nation have predicted a big shock to the educational system if parents were given a say in selecting their children’s schools. Minnesota’s experience with school choice, the first statewide program in the country, isn’t what either side expected.

For years, a number of reformers have been urging that parents be permitted to choose their children's schools and that the budget of each school depend on the parents' choices. Advocates of educational choice argue that injecting competition into a moribund public school monopoly will compel schools to respond to parents' demands and improve the quality of education. Some examples of choice, such as magnet schools, have been around for some time. But only recently have any states or local governments begun to put the school-choice model to a significant test. Perhaps the biggest test -- certainly one of the best publicized -- is now in progress in Minnesota. Minnesota recently became the first state to adopt an open enrollment policy allowing parents to send their children to public schools outside their own district. Under the program, state aid that would have gone to a student's home district goes instead to the district where the student attends school. But Minnesota's program is...