House GOP releases sweeping K-12 finance bill

Republicans in the Minnesota House offered a K-12 Finance bill that would dramatically alter the how the state’s schools are funded, change teacher seniority rules and would allow public money to be spent for low-income students to attend private schools.

The bill, released Saturday afternoon, makes a slight reduction in expected growth for K12 schools, but increases the amount of money in the state’s per pupil formula.

“The debate in education this year isn’t going to be about how much we spend,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington as he compared his bill to Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget plan. “The debate instead will be what we fund and what reforms we make to the system.”

Garofalo finds the extra funding in the per pupil formula by cutting the state aid schools rely on for integration. It also caps state special education funding at current levels, leading many Democrats to allege that it would force local school districts to raise property taxes to meet federal requirements. Garofalo says he plans to offer a bill later this session that would free up state requirements on schools with special ed students. He says that would save schools money.

Regardless, Democrats say the bill unfairly targets inner-city schools and schools treating the state’s hardest to teach students.

“If you’re a needy student, you’re a loser in this bill,” said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville.

Greiling said the bill would hit urban school districts like Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth the hardest. She said those districts would lose the most under the changes in integration aid.

The bill would also create a pilot program for low income students in poor performing schools to enroll in private schools at state expense. Greiling says the so-called voucher system would allow the state’s private schools to pick and choose which students to accept leaving the public schools to teach the state’s most challenging students. She says the bill is too aggressive.

“It’s not just rearranging the deck chairs,” Greiling said. “The whole hulk of the ship is tipped over and shaken out and spewed out in a different way. We have a whole new ship and that new ship is taking from school districts that have the greatest needs and spreading it around to other districts, small schools and charter schools.”

Republicans argue the voucher proposal is a pilot program for schools in St. Paul, Minneapolis and Duluth and is aimed at helping close the state’s achievement gap. The bill would also dedicate more money for charter schools and smaller rural schools.

The state’s teacher’s union would also lost clout if the bill becomes law. It would forbid teachers from striking over any pay increases over what the state is offering, would allow school districts to lay off teachers regardless of seniority and would enforce teachers to apply for tenure every five years. Those proposals are likely to face heavy opposition from the state’s teacher’s unions.

The bill will get its first hearing in the House K-12 Finance Committee on Monday morning.

Here’s the bill.

Here’s the spreadsheet.

  • Joyce Kirscher

    this bill is long over duehow ever it will take a lot of dedication to put it in to effect you can be assured that the teachers union namely the union bosses will use strong bullish means to prevent it as the union boses will lose a lot of power. and I believe they are the ones responsible for the condtions of our schools due to their ridicules negoitians they blackmailed Minnesot to get.I feel I can talk now as all my kids are out of school and graduated and no teacher can be a threat to them. Yes I feel parents don’t speak up because of that. all I can say thank God my kidsnever became teachers as they have a real racket going at the expense of taxpayers.and the education of our children . Take care of the unions and limit tenure and get rid of the lazy teachers and no more money will be needed .I do believe this bill will help education for that reason. My kids are 40 and up and nothing has changed in all those years and now my Grandchildren have to go throug it. What a shame

  • Joycekirsher

    I do believe this survey is one sided I just sent amessage supporting bill and was rejecte saying too many camein at once but then I realized it was mpr who dependsd on government finances

  • Adam

    I guess as 30-year old science teacher who is just hitting his stride, getting his masters and enjoying work, it is time to leave the state or country. Friends of mine who teach in Wisconsin informed me that every teacher in their successful district was laid off. They can come back for $32,000 a year without benefits. So much for teaching as a career. So much for improving teaching. It will turn into a peace corp job that is done by young people who teach for two years and then move on to their real career while investing nothing into the community and nothing into the school. If this passes, good luck to Minnesota and the young kids. I will enjoy seeing how well the state will compete in the future.

  • matt

    STATE intervention into education is what has caused it’s decline to its current dismal state. What then is the prescribed remedey? More STATE intervention. We had something that wasn’t broke and then we fixed it, now we are just heading to fixing it beyond recognition or salvation. Thank You St. Paul. Thank You Washington DC.

  • rb

    There is nothing more important in a society than providing its next generation with the best public education for ALL. To be competitive with the rest of the world, this is not an issue that should be cloaked with rhetoric about union bosses, the degradation of teachers, and pitting the middle class workers against each other. These are media driven, highly funded arguments by groups who are interested in creating this line of thought.

    When education is cut, we are talking about children. And as I send my curious, full of wonder children off to Kindergarten, I want them to have the same opportunities that children had in MN 40 years ago…..not the current barebones education without librarians, music programs, and the arts.

    Lets look at the country that is winning in public education – Finland which outperforms peers in 43 other nations – including the United States, Germany and Japan – in mathematics, science and reading skills. Finland is also ranked top in economic competitiveness.

    Much of Finland’s successful changes contrast sharply to the changes we have and continue to make here. It is almost as if someone is asking, how can we make America’s schools fail. Let’s do the opposite of Finland…..

    Teachers are highly prepared and hold master’s degrees (unlike alternative licsensing and the belief that anyone can be a teacher…..).

    The teachers are highly respected in the community (as opposed to demoralized and referred to in the right wing media as “slobs” and “part-timers”).

    “Investment in people is the best investment” for a country to be competitive is a widely held understanding. Instead of focusing on privatizing education, they provided budgeting for a free quality education for all.


    Mandatory tests do not dominate the education system unlike the US. Teachers make their own assessment test using descriptive feedback, no longer comparing students with one another.

    Trusting the schools and teachers is a common feature and schools receive full autonomy unlike NCLB and Race to the Top that seek to tie teachers to student performance and find bad teachers vs focusing on how a child is learning.

    Tteachers would not lose employment security and salaries and are fully unionized. Unlike in WI and now MN where Republicans are seeking to cut teacher pay and benefits pitting public and private workers in an unnecessary debate that has nothing to do with the education of our children.

    These are the issues an education debate should be examining….factors that provide the most enriching education. Check out the book :The Death and Life of the Great American School or the recent Daily Show interview with the author.

  • Raul

    FACT: -3/24/2011 The private sector worker receives nearly 23% less than public union workers. FACT: The Union leaders do line their own pockets ( NEA Director salary last year was above $647,000) FACT: Every union meeting addresses teacher salaries and benefits but never is it for anything “for” the students best learning needs, yet they use that line to gain manipulated sympathy.

    People need to know what the Teachers Unions and AFLCIO and SEIU are doing with no approval from union members. The top mob boss type union leaders work together to disrupt.. They use mob tactics to push their agenda. DID we all forget about the SEIU and ACORN mob that was bussed in by the union to invade a bank exec’s private home, swarmed his yard, frightened his son who was home alone? Does it end there? No.

    Source: Lerenr’s own speech at Pace University, held last week at the annual Far Left conference: We now have the socialist Steven Lerner, SEIU exec and acclaimed grassroots organizer, OUTWARDLY promoting economic TERRORISM using union members to be the front and stating the unions will fund this outrageous attack on the US economy but that they need to keep the unions financial support quiet.. He has called for a May 1st ” Communist Holiday” to begin attacking JP Morgan bank’s CEO, to use him as the identified villain. His plan is clearly ” economic terrorism” which our own US Attorney General refuses to address. Why the administration reluctance to address this issue? After all, SEIU ‘s Lerner and Andrew Stern have both been huge players consulting with the White House on failed economic recovery bills, the useless TARP2, etc.

    Senator Obama in 2007 proclaimed that he has been closely aligned with SEIU and if elected , he will bring SEIU along with him ” every step of the way”..rhetoric for campaigns or reality? Inner city unionized Public schools have shown worse achievement over the past 20 years. More money to schools has not equated with better outcomes. Source: every state’s Dept of Ed. year end stats.

    teachers and the public need to know that the union leaders from AFLCIO to SEIU to NEA are all abusing their members. members have no say where dues are spent, which political party and activities are supported or how schools can support student learning vs only focusing upon teacher contracts. I doubt most teachers would agree with the union leaders stance; e.g. that abortion on demand at tax payer expense is good, that use of dues to support ACORN’s voter registration fraud tactics is commendable?

    See the actual tapes of SEIU Lerner advocating his plan to collapse the USA financial markets and the co-conspirators such as the 60’s radical Francis Piven also speaking beside him. The Union empire using their billions took from dues to affect radical socialist inspired chaos is NOT what most teachers or fire fighters or any American would support.

    So before people engage in the claim that unions are being mistreated, that it is an assault upon the middle class_ well, it isn’t…it is an attempt by Americans to defy the corrupt Union leaders and educated the union members who are kept in the dark. Do your own research on Lerner, Piven, Bill Ayers, Andrew Stern and see the strong arm union tactics,the union leader’s billions, and then ask yourself_ is this what America is?

  • Raul

    Another commonly held myth is that schools need more money for Early Childhood Education because this service makes a difference in outcomes. Special education for Early Childhood disabled children has been useful but, across the board early childhood funding is often just state paid babysitting for some. The studies from the past 20 years do not show realized long term gains from this “education” Look at the school’s graduation rates. Look at the growing numbers of students dumped into special education service beginning by their 4th grade enrollment year.

    For those who attended early childhood education time, by the end of the students’ first grade year, there is no true benefit from early childhood education. By the fourth grade year, the stats show no differences in achievement gap. Poor parenting with lower intellectual endowment has not been modified through early childhood education yet, the liberal NEA agenda would have you believe otherwise. Don’t believe me, look up the vast studies between all groups and see for yourself.