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How Minneapolis can reinvent itself and thrive

I’ve been participating on the Minneapolis Public Schools Technology Planning Steering Committee. The committee has adopted the Leapfrog Paradigm and leapfrog thinking into its planning. Leaping frogs are showing up in presentations, and leapfrog is becoming a metaphor for creativity in the district. The committee’s work has, however, thus far focused on discussion on the use of technologies to promote its vision to advance student achievement and improve staff productivity. I think MPS can still do better. Leapfrogging can allow the district to lead in achievement, productivity, and meaningful knowledge production.

Here are five quick thoughts on what I believe MPS can do to reinvent itself and thrive as an institution:

  1. Commit to leadership in the reinvention of education in Minneapolis, the state, and in the world. The technology planning group can be the catalyst for this new orientation toward global leadership.
  2. Total success is possible. Do not set any goal too low, and do not be afraid to set any goal too high. Set big, hairy, audacious goals –but, make sure to align them with a Noble Quest in a broader leapfrog strategy.
  3. Don’t worry about breaking the rules. Bypass them. Better yet, leapfrog them! The disruptive change required to revolutionize MPS requires a new set of rules on a new playing field.
  4. Collaborate! Advances in communications technologies and socioeconomic globalization now means that MPS competes with the world in creating meaningful education. Rather than compete, why not leverage technologies and resources available to build global-reaching partnerships and collaborations?
  5. Forget about planning for the 21st Century. It’s meaningless to continue to plan for educating in the 21st Century. We’re already here. We need to start planning for the 22nd Century –and reassess our goals and priorities today based on where we need to be in the future.

That’s my two cents. I hope that these ideas will help to build a new MPS that is vibrant, edgy, hard-charging, and value-creating for Minneapolis, the state and the world.

Upcoming ULA workshop: Leadership, Efficacy, and a Culture of Trust

Leadership, Efficacy, and a Culture of Trust: Key Findings from Learning from Leadership Research

Kyla Wahlstrom, University of Minnesota

wahlstromk-2005.jpgKyla Wahlstrom, Ph.D., will present findings from Learning from District Efforts to Strengthen Education Leadership, a five-year research study funded by the Wallace Foundation designed to produce empirical evidence establishing the connection between leader performance and changes in student learning. One of the largest studies on educational leadership undertaken, with research gathered from 45 school districts in nine states, the discussion of the study’s findings will demonstrate not only how superintendents and principals can most effectively drive gains in student learning, but how and why their practices result in instructional improvement in some contexts and not in others.

Dr. Wahlstrom is the director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) in the College of Education and Human Development and also is a lecturer in the department of Educational Policy and Administration.


September 29, 2006 from 8:15 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

  • Morning session: 8:15 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Speaker presentation
  • Afternoon session: 1:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Practical application and dialogue that draws upon information from the morning session into school leadership.


Continuing Education and Conference Center, University of Minnesota, St. Paul Campus, 1890 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, Minn.


Registration form [PDF].

Registration deadline is September 22, 2006.


ULA member school district participants (Minneapolis, Saint Paul, North Saint Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale, Mounds View & Spring Lake Park) pay no registration fee. Non-ULA member school districts pay $90 per person for the half-day session or $150 for the full-day session.

Lunch and/or continental breakfast is included.


Pre-approved continuing professional education clock hours for administrators are available. Please contact John Moravec at or 612-625-3517 for more information.