What you can expect from me

The following column appeared in a number of APG of East Central Minnesota newspapers during January, 2024

 

What You can Expect from Me

 

More than 1,000 responses! That’s what the most recent column I wrote received via emails and comments when it was posted on the internet and social media websites. That’s the most ever for my columns stretching back to 1989. The reactions helped convince me, as we begin a new year, to clarify for you, the reader, what you can and should expect from me.

Joe Nathan

 

First, you should expect me to often share information that’s useful and that will help improve the lives of many readers. The more than 1,000 responses to information about Minnesota’s North Star Promise Scholarship Program showed many people are very interested and had not heard about it.

Starting in fall 2024, this will provide free tuition at Minnesota’s public colleges and universities for Minnesotans in a family earning less than $80,000. The most frequent question was: “Is there an age limit on who is eligible?” The answer is no. There are several conditions, along with a lot more information, on the Minnesota Office of Higher Education (OHE) website.

Keith Hovis, OHE communications director, pointed out the agency has already sent information to thousands of high school seniors.

OHE is planning an extensive public information campaign about this program, according to Hovis. It’s also offering free seminars this month on how to fill out the application form. More information is here.

Here’s a second example of something that seems useful and timely, given the Middle East conflict. Last year I wrote about EcoPeaceMiddleEast – a collaboration between Israelis, Palestinians, and Jordanians. They describe themselves as “Working for Peace through Environmental Cooperation.” Together they’ve significantly increased the amount of clean water and solar energy available in the area. I’ve talked to Gidon Bromberg, the Israeli co-director, and think this is a remarkable organization. It recently was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

A free online meeting with Bromberg will be held 10-11:30 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 28, to help people learn more about this effort. Anyone interested can go to mzion.org on Jan. 28 and click on “live streaming.” The program also will be recorded and available on that website for later viewing.

Part of being useful is asking tough questions about important education and youth-related issues. Some past columns have done that, and you can expect more this year. Along with concerns, you should expect to find nuance. You should expect me to acknowledge that proposals and programs rarely are “all good” or “all bad.” All the facts aren’t always on one side of an issue, and sometimes there are more than two sides.

I hope that sometimes you’ll find information here that you haven’t seen elsewhere.

You also should expect me to be accurate. We’re deluged with information, and determining what is true can be a challenge. I check and recheck information before including it in this column. Even then, sometimes I fail.

For example, in a recent column I praised the work of the Alliance for Sustainability and one of its leaders who lives in St. Louis Park. But unfortunately, I did not spell his name correctly: It’s Terry Gips, not Gibs. My apologies for this mistake.

Also due to some inaccurate information on a website, my description of a forthcoming book was not correct. I’ll have more, and accurate, information about the book when it’s released later this year.

There’s another expectation you can have of me. I’ll read and consider every comment readers send. Given the number of people who write, I won’t always be able to respond. But your insights, ideas and suggestions matter a great deal. Some of them have been included in columns. Some helped change my mind.

Finally, you can expect me to be open and grateful. I’m grateful to you – the readers – and to APG of East Central of Minnesota copy editor Sarah Peterson, who makes it possible for us to communicate. She also helps refine and strengthen the column. To her, and to you – many thanks. Happy new year.

Joe Nathan, Ph.D., is co-director of the Center for School Change. He formerly was a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator, and PTA president. Reactions welcome: joe@centerforschoolchange.org.