April 30, 2010
As the House education bill was being crafted and debated, EdWatch is extremely glad to announce that both major Republican gubernatorial candidates (Rep. Tom Emmer and Rep. Marty Seifert) understand the freedom priorities of sovereignty, local control, and academic excellence. Both have signed on to the bill authored by Rep. Gene Pelowski and Senator David Hann - HF 3677/SF 3181- to prohibit Minnesota's involvement in Race to the Top.
In an ironic, complicated and mostly party line vote, a package of reforms from Governor Pawlenty that included adoption of the Common Core Standards without public comment that we warned about in our last alert and that was proposed to help strengthen Minnesota's second round application for Race to the Top grants was rejected on April 28th by the House K-12 Finance Committee. This vote occurred as the committee put together their final omnibus education finance and policy bill.
The vote went as follows (6 in favor and 12 opposed):
Voting AYE in favor of Race to the Top including the Common Core Standards and teacher reforms - Paul Anderson (R), Randy Demmer (R), Connie Doepke (R), Pat Garofalo (R and Republican committee lead), Carlos Mariani (DFL and chairman of Education Policy Committee), and Carol McFarlane (R)
Voting NAY in opposition to Race to the Top, the Common Core, and the governor's desired teacher reforms (All DFL) - Tom Anzelc, John Benson, Robin Brown, Denise Dittrich, Mindy Greiling (chairwoman of the Finance Committee), Paul Marquart, Will Morgan, Jerry Newton, Linda Slocum, Marsha Swails, Tom Tillberry, and John Ward (committee vice-chairman)
ABSENT - Mark Buesgens (R), Jim Davnie (DFL), Bob Dettmer (R)
While it is understandable that the governor and the Republican legislators who supported this amendment see teacher accountability and reform as necessary and desirable, the sacrifice of our children to a federal curriculum that will ultimately indoctrinate them into the philosophy of the internationalist left and the whole RttT concept that will destroy what is left of state sovereignty in education is hardly worth those changes. It is sadly ironic that lovers of freedom, sovereignty, and academic excellence had to depend on the Democrats, whose tendencies and intentions are often in stark opposition to those concepts, to defend them. As the saying goes, politics makes strange bedfellows, and on this issue, EdWatch commends and thanks the Democrats for their votes.
It is important to note that an amendment containing adoption of national standards for school administrators that we also warned you about in our last alert was also defeated. Other good news is the fact that language authored by Rep. Mariani that requires legislative approval before the commissioner of education can enter into any multi-state consortia on developing assessments based on new standards is in the bill. This is a clear brake on Minnesota participating in the national assessment initiative that will arise from the Common Core national standards effort. That is a very good thing.
Please do not be deceived that the House Democrat bill is all sweetness and light. It is important to understand that there are very significant concerns from both the policy and fiscal viewpoints. The bill contains the mental health curriculum language that we warned you of earlier in the session. It also contains language allowing school boards to extend tax levies for school facilities without a taxpayer vote. And, it contains Chairwoman Greiling's New Minnesota Miracle bill that will take billions of dollars from the state to fund education instead of using property taxes that are now subject to voter approval. Finally, the omnibus early childhood finance and policy bill is moving towards a floor vote on a separate track. The Senate education policy bill with the majority of its finance changes will be unveiled on Tuesday May 4th at 8:30 AM in Room 112 of the Capitol.