The Free Press, Mankato, MN

February 3, 2013

St. Peter Superintendent Olson to attend State of the Union

By Brian Ojanpa
Free Press Staff Writer

ST PETER — Jeffrey Olson will get some icing on his career cake come Feb. 12.

That when the St. Peter Public Schools superintendent will be in the U.S. House of Representatives gallery to take in President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

“This is one of those bucket list things,” said the educator of 37 years, who began his teaching career instructing students about government.

Olson will be the guest of Rep. Tim Walz. Each year, Congress members are allowed one guest ticket to the event, and Olson said Walz invited him about two weeks ago.

While in Washington, Olson said he hopes to combine business with pleasure. He said the plan is for him to talk with Walz and 1st District Rep. John Kline about issues involving the re-tooling of the No Child Left Behind Act and about the most contentious issue of late, school safety.

He said “deterring and detecting” is St. Peter’s school safety mantra regarding potential violent acts and those who may have the propensity to commit them.

He said there is much talk going on in the state about various measures that can be done to bolster school safety, though he isn’t a proponent of one in particular.

He said he has grave concerns about arming teachers and putting guns in schools and thinks more emphasis needs to be placed on in-school preventive measures.

“We need more counselors and social workers,” he said, citing a counselor-to-student ratio in Minnesota that is lower than virtually every other state.

“And these are things that really don’t come with a high price tag.”

After Olson returns from Washington he’ll be packing a bag again for a trip to California.

Olson, the 2013 Minnesota Superintendent of the Year, will be among other U.S. honorees feted at the Association of School Administrators annual conference Feb. 20-23.

“This is going to be a crazy month.”