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Governor Election - Penny Politics

October 7, 2002

How does Tim Penny, Independence Party candidate for Governor, measure up on education? People ask us, is he a friend or foe?

Last August, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported that education was the key campaign issue this year. (See the article.)

"From conservatives to liberals, rural to urban, Minnesota political candidates are making education a top campaign issue - even more than in previous years."

"In a recent national poll by the newspaper Education Week, nearly two-thirds of respondents said education is one of the most important issues determining their preference for a candidate - behind the economy but ahead of the war on terrorism."

"In Minnesota, the next legislative session will include several blockbuster education debates...The future of the state's controversial Profile of Learning will be at stake, as will important student-testing decisions that will be felt for years to come."

Where does Independence Party Tim Penny come out on education?

Our first clue came with his choice of Lieutenant Governor running mate, Senator Martha Robertson of Minnetonka. Robertson is a refugee from the Republican Party who lost her endorsement battle over her unwavering support for the Profile of Learning throughout the years. ("No endorsement for Pro- Profile State Senator") She is not the first or the last sitting state senator to lose local grassroots support over the Profile.

"[Robertson] serves on the MN Senate Education Committee and was nicknamed by Profile opponents the 'lapdog' of Senator Larry Pogemiller. Pogemiller, DFL, was chief legislative architect of Minnesota's hated Profile of Learning and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee throughout the '90's." (MREdCo, 4/15/02)

Indeed, Senator Robertson was routinely chosen by DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe to "represent" Republicans on the conference committees that were intended to reconcile competing House and Senate language on the Profile. Taking her cues from Moe and the Department of Children, Families and Learning, Robertson consistently sabotaged the Republican position on the Profile.

On April 22nd of this year, Senator Robertson cast the lone Republican vote in the Senate to keep the Profile of Learning in place. The measure to repeal the Profile lost by one vote!

Our next clue came from CFL Commissioner Christine Jax when she withdrew from the Independence Party endorsement race for governor days before the endorsing convention in July. She noted that, with Senator Martha Robertson on the Penny ticket, Jax' positions on education issues were thoroughly covered.

That is a mouthful. Commissioner Jax has been the face of the Profile of Learning in Minnesota since 1999.

As a candidate for Governor in 1998, Ventura promised to listen to the citizens, not to the power brokers.

What Minnesota got instead from Governor Ventura was Jax, a CFL Commissioner who slammed the door on grassroots opposition to the Profile, who despised those who spoke up, rallied, called and wrote letters, and who misrepresented the Profile to the legislature, telling them it was not a federal mandate.

This same Commissioner Jax is comfortable that, as Lieutenant Governor, Robertson would represent Jax' education concerns in the next administration. That is cause for alarm.

In fact, Penny publicly defers to Martha Robertson on education issues, noting favorably her position on the Senate Education Committee. A Penny administration will most certainly empower the very people who developed, implemented and defended the Profile of Learning in Minnesota.

Where is Penny on the planned economy and workforce system?

According to the Star Tribune of 9/30/02, Penny would "integrate higher education, economic development and workforce needs on a regional basis; make the system work for employers."

That describes the new planned education/workforce/economy system being driven into place through federal law and appointed boards. Education, in the new re-invented workforce system, exists to supply the planned needs of business, schools are the suppliers, appointed regional workforce boards determine which businesses will be favored and supported with our tax money. Education is redefined as primarily job training. Penny is describing the new, planned School-to-Work system.

Penny and Robertson are media favorites. Just as mainline media outlets gave Jesse Ventura a pass four years ago, Penny & Robertson come under little scrutiny for a campaign slim on content.

Penny/Robertson are uncritically presented as "moderate," whereas, in fact, their support of the Profile of Learning, School-to-Work, and the planned workforce system put them on the side of a radical transformation of our schools, our workforce and our economy. The largest newspapers, coincidentally, push the same agenda. Penny/ Robertson are conveniently presented as something they are not, making them easier to pass off on the uninformed voter, just as Jesse Ventura was in 1998.

Ventura jumped right onto the Profile of Learning and planned economy/workforce bandwagon without a pause. He accepted the script unquestioningly. Now Ventura is number one cheerleader for the Penny/Robertson team. Don't expect anything different from them.

Voter beware!

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