105 Peavey Rd, Ste 116
Chaska, MN 55318
May 15, 2002
In a huge victory for opponents of the Profile of Learning, an incumbent Senator who has been a leading advocate for dismantling academic education in Minnesota and replacing it with the Profile of Learning was overwhelmingly denied endorsement by her political party last weekend.
At the Saturday, March 13th Senate District 43 convention, incumbent state Senator Martha Robertson lost the Republican endorsement by 70% of the vote on the first ballot to newcomer David Gaither, a businessman who displayed "Repeal the Profile" prominently in his literature. The newly redistricted Senate District encompasses Plymouth and part of Minnetonka.
Senator Robertson, first elected in 1992, is serving her third term as Senator. She serves on the MN Senate Education Committee and was nicknamed by Profile opponents the "lapdog" of Senator Larry Pogemiller. Pogemiller was chief legislative architect of Minnesota's hated Profile of Learning and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee throughout the '90's.
No amount of coaxing from well-respected Republican party leaders swayed the delegates to change their minds. Delegates were elected at the March 5th precinct caucuses to represent Republicans at their local conventions. Party endorsements of candidates for the 2002 elections are being conducted across the state in the newly drawn political boundaries.
Former U.S. Senator Rudy Boschwitz made an endorsement speech on behalf of Robertson. Letters from former Governor Al Quie and Senate Minority Leader Dick Day were distributed. Even Congressman Ramstad put in a comment thanking Robertson for her good work as Senator. However, all was to no avail. Delegates were determined to unseat Martha Robertson.
Robertson has been an unflinching advocate of the Profile during her tenure as state Senator. As anger toward the Profile swelled over the past five years, Robertson met and worked closely with Senator Pogemiller, the DFL majority Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, to defeat any proposals by other Senators to weaken or un-do the radical restructuring of education. She was routinely appointed by the Senate DFL majority as the Republican representative to House/Senate education conference committees as the "spokesperson" for the Senate Republican position.
In 2001, for example, the House majority brought a bill all the way to the conference committee as part of the Education Omnibus bill (HF82) which would have required that Minnesota re-establish genuine academic testing. It would have repealed the Profile of Learning and replaced it with academic achievement tests that did not measure the attitudes, values and beliefs of students. It defined testing rigor, knowledge and objectivity.
Senator Robertson had voted against that language bill in the Senate. In conference committee, when discussing the proposed language prohibiting Minnesota from testing attitudes, values and beliefs of students, she dismissed the proposal with little explanation.
Regarding repeal of the Profile, she indicated she'd not heard from citizens on this, that the only thing she'd heard about was funding. (On April 24, 2001, over 2,000 citizens assembled on the steps of the Capitol to oppose and protest the Profile of Learning.]
The SD43 convention was a deja-vu from two years ago when 28-year incumbent Senator Gary Laidig of Senate District 56 in Stillwater was soundly defeated on a first ballot by 62%. Michele Bachmann was endorsed and went on to win the primary and the general elections with landslide votes. The issue in that challenge was Laidig's consistent support of the Profile of Learning and his flouting of the will of his constituents to eliminate it from Minnesota.
The Robertson defeat is a lesson in the profound rejection of the Profile of Learning and its related School-to-Work and Workforce Development plan in Minnesota. When voters have a viable alternative, and when they have adequate information about Profile supporters, they will reject incumbents who have supported it.
The public is on our side. The media will refuse to report this as a groundswell of grassroots conviction. However, defenders of the Profile are on the defensive around the state in all political parties.
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