How should Minnesota finance K-12 education?

A working group has recommended that Minnesota move away from its reliance on levy referendums as a means of K-12 education funding. The Education Finance Working Group says that the levies promote inequality among school districts. Today’s Question: How should Minnesota finance K-12 education?

  • Gary F

    The further away the money comes from the less control people have of the money.

    Yes, some cities don’t vote for referendums. The black hole known as public education will always be an insatiable beast.

    Public education, another old style union run business that can’t make it.

    Teachers and students first, not the union.

  • GregX

    Well there’s a hornets nest.

    First I’d say that whatever we select – Once committed – fulfill the entire responsibility. there are a lot of districts holding loan paper because the state messed with their funding.

    the system should either give the money or not. the legislators, county board members, school board members, should suffer the consequences immediately of the decisions for spending and funds allocation.

    Lastly – in a parallel to tax-code reform …. allow regular public schools to have the same regulatory and fiscal freedom that charter schools have. the money public schools get is in too many tiny little specific boxes with far too many rules and requires far too much documentation for access & use.

    If you can’t trust them to do reasonable things with the money – a lot of that is “YOU/US” punishing the 99% for the excesses of the 1%. Get over it.

  • GregX

    GaryF -” The further away the money comes from the less control people have of the money.” …..

    Rubbish — if you”ve ever attended school board meetings… the only time the angry blowhards show up en masse is when they get a new bill. they are never there working on the problems throughout the days, weeks, months, years. I , for one, have no sympathy for some johnny come-lately who doesn’t volunteer, doesn’t help solve the problems, doesn’t show up … suddenly saying he wants final approval of everything at the last tick of the clock. NO GO.

    If the public did show up , en masse to every meeting, read the reports and studies, knew the issues and we’re trying to find solutions … then fine… they got some skin in that game.

  • Mark in Freeborn

    Public education should be almost exclusively financed by the State, with smaller portions being financed by local property taxes (based on voter approval….or not….of what’s actually happening in the local schools) and, to lesser extent, the Federal government. If the State demands and expects quality schools, then the State should provide the finding.

    IIncidentally, public schools are neither a “business,” nor a “black hole.” The first term is misapplied, because the primary goal of a business is to make money. The second term is simply an insult disguised as an opinion.

  • Albert

    The premise that there is equality in districts now is the real issue. When you have districts whose student populations are not being offered the same measurable resources along with being challenged by other socio-economic disadvantages that are touted as reasons for student failure, you must first create balance. The Republican ideal as I have seen it in the last few years is about equal opportunity. I can whole heartedly agree with that. However. a child who rides two buses for over an hour to get to school because they must, and having to do so early enough to partake in the free breakfast the school provides cannot be placed along side the student whose parents drop them off and pick them up from school each day after feeding them breakfast and giving them money for lunch.

    We should have fewer districts with larger considerations for the resources that will force people to actually consider their neighbor.

  • Steve the Cynic

    School districts are a level of bureaucracy that are more trouble than they’re worth and should be abolished. Especially with statewide open enrollment, where some parents vote in a district different from where their kids attend school, the current structure makes no sense. That’s on top of the economic disparity that unduly advantages kids in rich neighborhoods over kids in poor neighborhoods. There should be one education budget and one education bureaucracy for the whole state.

  • Jim G

    The funding for K-12 education should come from state coffers. There are many reasons for this common sense solution, but there are also dangers. First of all, every child in this state has a right to a public school education. It’s in our state constitution. But by mixing of state and local monies to support local districts as we currently do, we have created rich and poor districts. This has resulted in disparate educational experiences and outcomes for our small rural districts to our largest Metro districts. Currently the state has supplied only a bare bones approach to K-12 funding. It is assumed that local districts will pass supplemental levies to enhance the meager amount which has been coming out of St. Paul during the Great Recession years. Remember that the state borrowed 2.2 billion to solve the current budget deficit.

    While each school district supplementing its basic school formula with property tax levies works for the well-off districts, this disparity of funds available translates into an uneven public school educational experience across the state. The property rich districts, usually located in the Metro area, can afford to pass levies that the citizens and businesses can afford because they’re starting with a large tax base. The property poor districts can’t pass these referendums consistently so they’re already behind the referendum eight-ball.

    If the goal is to make the educational outcomes of rural, suburban, and city schools essentially equal then if makes sense that all schools across the state get the same funding. This wholly sufficient funding, essentially replacing local property levies now dedicated to the local schools, should come from a central authority, the Minnesota State government. That’s a laudable goal, but I don’t see this happening in the coming two year budget, especially since the State already owes the schools 2.2 billion. The danger of this plan is that consolidating this money into one big pot in the state treasury makes a very tempting target to the enemies of public education…and they are legion.

  • Really?

    Almost every comment here so far advocates for more central planning, more use of force/coercion to achieve “equality” in outcomes (as if that were possible, who among us is equal?), and undoubtedly more taxpayer $ for districts which are continually failing the students they pretend to serve. HOGWASH!

    The exact opposite is true. More choice & less bureaucracy is the answer. Perhaps every parent with a qualifying child could receive a tax credit per child of $X and make their own education choices.

    When the students and teachers form a union to counter the teachers’ union(s), then we can talk in real terms about how much money it takes to properly educate a child. Until then, we are in actuality only talking about funding the public employee union coffers, getting more D’s elected to “negotiate” with, and using those new funds to support more D’s in the next election. It’s as corrupt a system as anyone can imagine.

    I implore everyone still reading this to google the following (since the site administrator here at MPR seems to frown upon me posting links): videos, machine-truth-behind-teachers-unions

  • GregX

    Funding by state is OK if that includes elimination fo a lot of local control. General curriculum is one area.

    The state can leverage buying power by establishing specific statewide curriculums for science, math, english, history, etc. at the base course materials level. In the next few years – more money shoudl be spent on a web-based curriculum system that would serve all text’s and class materials electonically and students entire class homework would be completed there as well. No more … left it at home.

    If we wait for each school to slowly adopt technology on its own – it will be slow, disorganized and non-uniform.

  • Gordon near Two Harbors

    The vast majority of school funding should be financed from the state’s general fund. After school sports, and anything not tied to academic credit, should be financed with voter-approved levies.

    To improve student performance the state should also limit the number of athletic competitions to no more than one per week, preferably on weekends. Kids are constantly being released from class during the day to attend distant sports competitions, and these same kids also often come to school the next day tired and without their homework complete.

    Absenteeism could be radically reduced by tying any public benefits a family receives to student attendance and performance. Education is a two-way street. You actually have to show up and work in order to learn.

  • Linda in Plymouth

    If the state would make all teachers in public schools true government employees that are seen as a necessary mandatory job, just the same as the military is, then there would be no union bosses lining their pockets under the guise of helping teachers and kids. This alone would lower costs and allow more money to fund schools.

    No union ever made schools more efficient or better learning places. Unions hold families and school boards hostage. So much that the unions even bully school boards to have two year contracts where the employer district is doing the work to withdraw Union dues from checks instead of teachers mailing in their own monthly dues check. All because Unions know if they don’t get their funds directly from the school the teachers will soon quit their union.

  • Steven

    Maybe the DFL controlled house can just tax those rich people , the ones that hire others, to pay for inner city schools? That same idea was embodied in our President even though the economic experts all say his late and obscure budget plan he offered in 2010 didn’t get ONE vote from Dems or repubs! Now he offers this_ Obama wants to take the country over the fiscal cliff. That’s the only conclusion one could possibly draw from the absolute nonsense in his administration’s opening offer. Here’s the rundown of what the president would like to see happen.

    $1.6 trillion in tax increases – not just on the wealthy, but on businesses the administration views unfavorably, such as oil.

    $50 Billion in new stimulus spending.

    A deferment – of a single year – on the military sequester ( really stupid and does nothing to protect us while the middle east is on the verge of war.

    Federal money ( again) to shore up underwater mortgages. His first plan did little.

    To top off the lunacy, President Obama would like nearly unlimited power to raise the debt ceiling whenever he likes, as high as he likes.

    This is what is called democratic fascism. The people, uneducated or uninformed, 52% voted for his continued 4 years. MN inner cities and liberal suburbs did the same for allowing the DFL full control of our government. Thank god I listened to Glenn Beck many many tears ago and took his advice to buy gold. Selling my stocks worth of $60,000 value to instead buy gold now has the value at $300,000.00 I can retire earlier, well before Obama’s plan to again print more money for a stimulus and lowers the dollar value wipes out everyone’s retirement.

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  • John

    Make parents pay for the entire child’s education or require them to home school. That would end the birth rate or we would have much smarter children. Our school systems and teachers are terrible.

  • Steve the Cynic

    That’s an evidence free opinion, John. The birth rate and illiteracy are both much higher in places where universal education is not provided.

  • inuit

    The birth rate, and percentage of the population that is illiterate, will always be much higher in primative cultures than amongst the civilized, without regard to the amount of government education provided.

  • Steve the Cynic

    Yes, and public education is one of the things that moves a culture from “primitive” to “civilized.”