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MN House Rejects Common Core

But Not Race to the Top

May 15, 2010

The omnibus K12 policy bill cleared the House floor very late on the night of May 11th.  The very good news is that there was little interest on either side of the aisle in adopting the Common Core Standards that we have been warning you about.  The bad news is that we all still need to continue educating legislators on the dangers of loss of sovereignty, the unfunded mandates, and the cradle to college control of our children that all go along with Race to the Top (RttT).  {Video of the debate on this bill may be found here).


Representatives Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan), Gene Pelowski (D-Winona), Tom Emmer (R-Delano and gubernatorial endorsee), and Steve Drazkowski (R-Red Wing) offered an amendment prohibiting Minnesota's participation in RttT (see video starting here at.41:30).  This is the same as the legislation (HF 3677) that all of these legislators and others have coauthored this session.

Rep. Buesgens eloquently laid out the problems of federal control and the history of other federal education involvement. Policy Committee Chairman, Rep. Carlos Mariani (D-St. Paul), and Republican lead Rep. Pat Garofalo (Farmington) both spoke against the amendment.  Mariani, incorrectly, in our view, gave the impression that an application could be written that does not undermine state authority; while Garofalo just disagreed, again incorrectly, that there were any dangers of federal control in RttT.   Unfortunately, the lure of federal money in extremely difficult fiscal times along with the shiny veneer of teacher accountability and apparent pressure from the Chamber of Commerce combined to keep all but a brave bipartisan group of 25 legislators from supporting the amendment.  The following legislators supported freedom, sovereignty, and academic excellence and are greatly commended and thanked for their principled stand:

Anderson, B. (R), Anzelc (D), Beard (R), Bly (D), Brod (R), Buesgens (R), Davnie (D), Dean (R),  Drazkowski (R),  Faust (D), Hackbarth (R), Hilty (D), Kohls (R), Newton (D), Pelowski (D), Peppin (R), Rukavina (D), Scott (R), Seifert (R), Severson (R), Shimanski (R), Slocum  (D), Sterner (D),  Westrom (R), Zellers (R)

After that, as he did in the committee discussion of the bill, Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) offered the governor's entire package of RttT reforms that included adoption of the Common Core Standards (See here starting at 1:17:30).  Education Finance Committee Chairwoman Mindy Greiling (D-Roseville) actually spoke strongly and specifically against these national standards as she outlined her opposition to the entire amendment. Rep. Paul Anderson (R- Starbuck) also spoke against the Common Core. 

This time, however, Rep. Randy Demmer (R-Hayfield and congressional candidate) moved to divide the amendment so that the House would have a separate vote on whether to adopt the Common Core Standards.  After the rest of the RttT reforms were voted down mostly along party lines with the Democrats and some Republicans opposing the reforms or RttT in general, Rep. Garofalo then withdrew the standards part of the amendment.  Minnesota's students were then spared the adoption of this federal curriculum.  For this work against the standards, Reps. Garofalo, Demmer, Greiling, and Anderson should all be thanked.


The House then also went on to reject another alternative teacher licensure proposal by a very mixed vote of 68-65. The Senate has refused to take up its education policy bill containing the RttT reforms, including the Common Core Standards, at all.  The House and Senate are far apart on their ideas for both policy and funding. Many factors are involved in this divide that include grassroots opposition to the Common Core standards, teachers' union opposition to the accountability reforms, the budget negotiations, and gubernatorial politics. Many thanks to each of you for your role in educating your legislators, making your voices heard, and standing for freedom.  


Although last minute maneuverings are still possible, with the regular legislative session ending on Monday, May 17th, bills having to be passed by midnight on Sunday the 16th, and a due date of June 1st for an application that requires a lot of legislative changes not yet enacted, the possibility of Minnesota's successful second round RttT involvement is becoming less likely by the hour. 

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