The debate over Governor Mark Dayton’s education bill veto focuses on the legislature’s rejection of his proposal for universal pre-kindergarten in Minnesota. But that’s only a small part of what’s wrong with the education bill.
The governor’s veto message lists some of the problems, including:
- No funding for eliminating the Head Start waiting list of 2500 low-income children;
- No funding for the Minneapolis Northside Achievement Zone and St. Paul Promise Neighborhood;
- No funding for Bureau of Indian Education Schools (for details on the shameful condition of these schools, see Rats, bats and worse: Native American school left behind in Minnesota.)
The education bill would also result in teacher lay-offs across the state, due to inadequate funding for general operation of schools — once again below the rate of inflation. State per-pupil funding has been falling further behind each year. What are they thinking? With a state budget surplus, how can they justify starving the schools?
The legislature also cut proposed funding for increased support staff, including counselors, librarians and nurses. Maybe they still take pride in Minnesota’s third-worst in the nation student-counselor ratio: one counselor to 792 students.
Parents United for Public Schools put it well:
“Throughout the decades of deficit, it has been a struggle to adequately fund schools. With a surplus and legislation passed last session to refill all coffers stripped during deficit years, it is difficult to believe this is “the best we can do” – a phrase we often hear. It is the bill of missed opportunities.
“We believe Minnesota can do better. We believe Minnesota needs to do better.”
UPDATE: On May 30, the Pioneer Press reported that Dayton offered to withdraw his universal preschool plan in exchange for more funding for early education scholarships and funding — but the Republicans said no. Instead, they are focused on ending teacher seniority and on “a proposal requiring transgender students to use school bathrooms for their physical sex rather than their gender identity.”
- Four things you need to know about Minnesota’s special session (News day)
- MN education budget forces ‘a gosh darn lousy plan’ on schools (News Day)
- Governor’s veto message: Education
- So now what? (Parents United for Public Schools)