ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called Friday for more state spending on schools, changes in high-stakes testing, expanded all-day kindergarten and an added emphasis on literacy as part of a long-on-goals, light-on-details education plan.

Dayton and Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius outlined their seven-point proposal but kept critical elements — such as how much new money and where it would come from — under wraps pending the governor’s budget rollout later this month. Minnesota is dealing with a projected $6.2 billion deficit.

Dayton campaigned on a promise to boost school aid every year. “No exceptions, no excuses,” he said often.

The Democratic governor also has said he would ask the Republican-controlled Legislature to increase income taxes, an idea encountering stiff resistance. Dayton wouldn’t say if the education money was dependent on a tax hike.

“Everything is interrelated but nothing is specifically tied from one piece to another,” Dayton said.

He intends to create a new commission to study the way school money is distributed and recommend a different approach. Similar efforts have stalled in the past.

Among Dayton’s goals:

— Enhance early childhood programs, implement school readiness standards and build off recent efforts to make all-day kindergarten more prevalent around the state.

— Narrow Minnesota’s nagging achievement gap between white students and those from other ethnic backgrounds, although Cassellius said a measurable goal would come later.

— Align state tests so they better measure year-to-year academic growth by individual students instead of assessing progress by grade level, such as this year’s fifth-graders against their predecessors.

— Set accountability targets around a goal of making sure students are reading well by third grade.

Some of his ideas will require legislative authorization and others would need sign off from the federal government.

Testing requirements are now largely guided by the federal No Child Left Behind law, which is up for reauthorization. Some states are pushing for more flexibility in how the tests are used to hold schools accountable.

“Tests now are so dominant and so frequent that they are skewing teaching so teachers are spending weeks and months teaching to a test especially in the early grades rather than teaching a love of learning,” Dayton said.

The proposal drew a mixed response, with education advocacy groups issuing statements of support and Republican leaders giving either tepid or critical reaction.

“I see nothing new here. Invest means to spend more. I see nothing about parents in this seven-point plan, not a thing about empowering parents,” said House Education Reform Committee Chairwoman Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton. “Parents are our first teachers of students.”

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina, said he thinks the financial boost to schools could be tough to pull off given Minnesota’s battered budget.

“It just seems difficult to add a lot of money in one part of the budget without knowing where his cuts and reforms are,” Michel said.

All sides said they were working toward a compromise on legislation making entry into the teaching profession easier for those who don’t meet traditional state licensing requirements. It would allow the state to issue provisional teacher licenses to people with certain qualifications.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (24)
  1. John Sherman says:

    how much money over the years have been funneled to schools which seems to be a yearly DO OVERS and accomplishes nothing not for students because the test scores show that same issues different day. Maybe the new governor might first concetrate on attraacting MAJOR BUSINESS to the state for employment then the schools and by the way when was the last time a brandnew school built in Minneapolis/St Paul ?

  2. Irv says:

    About time. Schools are running on 16-20%, calculated with inflation, less than when Pawlenty took office. The education system in Mn has taken a beating over the last eight years. The Republicans have spent years trying to spin the tail that education in the state is broken and we need to stop “Throwing money away”. Actual numbers show that we have made huge improvements in our test scores and we have held our position as the leader in the country with ACT scores. Time to look at facts and start supporting our states children with an education they deserve.

    1. Matt says:

      Irv, you should get your facts right before running your mouth. When Pawlenty took office in 2003 the per pupil funding in Minnesota was $4,068, in 2011 it’s projected at $5,124. Now, maybe the part of Minnesota you lived in had 33.6% inflation rate, but according to Bureau of Labor and Statistics inflation from Jan 2003 – Dec 2010 is was 20.63%.

      That means that PER PUPIL funding based on 2010 dollars is up $216.77 or just about 4%.

      If you really want to prove out how much throwing money at a problem can do, let’s compare to 1990 when Minnesota was the TOP of the education pyramid. 1990 per pupil budget: $2,838. based on a 72.04% inflation rate that equals 4,882.50 today or a little less than 5% less than current funding levels.

      Throwing money at a problem doesn’t fix it, it just gives you a bigger problem to fix.

      1. rkwrichfield says:

        I have been checking Matt’s inflation calculations (listed below) and verifying his statistics. Takes quite a while to try and dig this information out.
        So far some of his numbers do not check out. I do know that the school district in Richfield has been getting fewer dollars from the state of Minnesota and we have had to pass property tax increases to maintian our system over the last 20 years. Special Education is being handled quite badly by the Unided States of America, the State of Minnesota, and numerous school districts. The Feds have mandated special Ed, The state has special education mandates, but very little funding. These kids have real problems, if we do not do something to help them, they will likely have a very difficult time supporting themsellves as adults. I don’t like taxes, I do believe we can find better ways to educatie our children. but if your loved ones are thinking of getting into education and spending $70,000 for a 4 year degree, please please steer them into health care, or anything other than teaching, there is no money in public education. There are a lot of people that just don’t like anyone that holds a public service job. Public servants are stereo typed as lazy, overpaid, drag on the hard working tax payers. They resent teachers because they get their summers off. What ever the case in Minnesota starting teachers usually get about $30,000.00 to start. That is a horrible return on investment of $70,000 on a college education. For any of you would be teachers out there beware!!!


        Irv, you should get your facts right before running your mouth. When Pawlenty took office in 2003 the per pupil funding in Minnesota was $4,068, in 2011 it’s projected at $5,124. Now, maybe the part of Minnesota you lived in had 33.6% inflation rate, but according to Bureau of Labor and Statistics inflation from Jan 2003 – Dec 2010 is was 20.63%.

        That means that PER PUPIL funding based on 2010 dollars is up $216.77 or just about 4%.

        If you really want to prove out how much throwing money at a problem can do, let’s compare to 1990 when Minnesota was the TOP of the education pyramid. 1990 per pupil budget: $2,838. based on a 72.04% inflation rate that equals 4,882.50 today or a little less than 5% less than current funding levels.

    2. pat says:

      Irv if we have made huge improvements in test scores and held our own, shows proof positive it isn’t loads of money as the cause,, but perhaps teachers being held accountable.

  3. Rufus Rumbleweed says:

    Why should we spend money on schools when we have a Twins stadium and a Gopher stadium we’re already paying for, a Vikings stadium that needs to be built, a Wolves stadium that needs remodeling, a Saints stadium that needs to be built, and, just in case he gets out of jail, Denny Hecker will probably need taxpayer help to build him a new car dealership?

    Where are our priorities people??? The kids don’t need more education, we can put them to work on all the new sports facilities we’re going to be building! If we work it right, those jobs will last a lifetime and generate kazillions in tax revenues for the state.

    Instead of schools, Governor Prozac needs to focus on stadiums. That’s the ticket.

  4. BS says:

    I remember when I was in school,we heard the samething. Then when my children where in school it was the same. This has been going on for 50+ years . It never ends. I think there is some kind of scam going on. They know who I’m talking about. Let’s look into this before we waste more tax payers money.

    1. Joe says:

      I always question where the money actually goes. How much really goes to Administration etc? I would like to see our kids not only leave school with a little education but to actually have some sort of skill they can use to earn money while the move onto the next level, if they so chose.

  5. Joe says:

    I agree BS. Where is the money going to? I think it is going mostly to Administrators pockets. I think we do teach too much touchy-feely crap in schools today. No reason our kids can’t be ready by their senior year to go to the next level, if they so choose, without needing to take college prep classes while in college.

  6. RT says:

    Just more wasteful spending. No matter how much money you throw at the system the results will be the same until the parents of the underachievers take a more active role in thier kids learning and their life in general. Be a parent!

    1. dphilips says:

      Spoken like another ignorant rube!!

      1. Matt says:

        I disagree, not that a single parent can’t raise a good kid, but it’s MUCH more difficult. If you look at the number of single parent families in Minnesota over the past 10 years it has increased at TWICE the national rate.

        There’s a much stronger correlation there, than in funding which has increased per pupil over the past ten years at a steady rate.

  7. mike says:

    Who’s the ignorant rube? What the hell is wrong with looking at the parents as part of our education problem? My son and daughter-in-law are both teachers and they tell me the students and parents that show up for conferences are the ones doing the best in school. The sluff offs don’t show up. Now a days teachers are teaching the tests to make sure the student can pass the no child left behind BS. What does that do to really educate a child?

    Teachers in our school district haven’t seen a raise in,I believe 4 years. Why, because this district won’t pass an operating levy that most of the districts in Minnesota have passed. The district has been operating in statutory operating deficit for about 3 of those years and has cut,cut,cut,cut its way into the black. General expences keep going up and enrollment has stagnated for the near future. The state now holds back dollars that should go to the district, so that they have to borrow money to operate on. What is going to happen now if the legislature passes this bill to allow a lower ability (teacher??) to be teaching these students.Won’t that put us further down the pyramid? Does that mean that there can be lower class sizes at less cost to the state. What a joke. I can only see things getting worse not better.

    There is also talk of freezing teachers pay and taking away their ability to negotiate their future earnings. Look above. These teachers have been negotiating for the last 4 years and they haven’t gotten a raise. Why the hell make it a law that they can no longer negotiate?

  8. George says:

    It will never happen but I think the whole system is shot. How the state taxes, how it spends money etc. There seems to be no prioritys, just funds for various spending. We layoff teachers but build bike paths, we cut funding for cities but are buying land for preserves, We open a wolf museum but can’t hire firefighters, etc. etc. etc. Maybe we just elect ignorant people.

  9. MAJ says:

    If children came to school ready to learn it would soon show up in tests scores.
    Way too many students coming to school w/ too much baggage from home. I do not blame teachers. They are a hard working group that are doing their best. More $$$$$ won’t improve the situation. Taxpayers are tired of being continually asked for more money. Make due with the money you have.

    1. rkw richfield says:

      Most public schools are very political, Management of these schools are attempting to maintain a smooth operating facility. Public schools have to take everyone, they can’t pick only the best students like some private schools can. Students today come to school with a variety of problems, from severe behavioral issues, to lack of any support group (parents that care, or have time to engage with their children). Management does not want to hear about the problems, a good teacher to many school managers is one that keeps a lid on the class rooms and manages to get good standardized test scores for no child left behind legislation. (very important to teach good test taking skills)

      So what do we do?? Enable our teachers. Fund our special education programs, blend in medical treatment if needed, Discipline our students, if that takes a good spanking to get through to them, then do it. Students today know that teachers really can’t do anything to them in the form of discipline and they use that knowledge to its fullest extent.

      Some of these kids need a lot of help, sometimes they don’t get the meds they need, the food they need, the sleep they need, nor the mentoring they need. These kinds of problems cross the line of the schools mission to educate, and require help from the medical community, social services, and parents. Perhaps we need to redefine what the schools are supposed to be doing??

      Single parents, parents working two jobs, parents working extra hours to try and make ends meet, leave very little time for helping with school work, this is a symptom of our broken society, not the school or teachers fault. Many a night I had to work late, then got home, fixed dinner, run through some homework with my three daughters, then try and prepare for the next day of work. Life is tough in America for some of us.

      Yes there are some teachers that are the problem, they need to get help or help getting into another job. Some of these teachers have become burned out, working late at school and at home to get lesson plans or other work into place, because they gave up their class preparation time to help students or deal with the many issues teachers deal with. Trying to transition out of teaching takes a few years of new training, and or job development, people that are leaving have to eat and put a roof over their heads, so leaving is not as easy as if might seem, so many teachers just feel trapped and do not leave because there really isn’t any place to go. My daughter is leaving education with a Masters degree from St. Thomas and getting into health care where there is some money to be made. So now she is working on a second Masters in Psychology, which will take a couple of years to complete, plus internships for a few more years. Basic tuition, room & board, and books run $72,000 for a 4 year degree at the U of M, and then there are all of the fees, and the new stadium fee etc. Most starting teaching jobs are in the low $30,000 area in Minnesota, which is pretty sad pay after investing $70,000.00 to be a teacher in our public school system.

      This is not and easy problem to solve. Some schools have built campus style High schools with Olympic type swimming pools. Maybe we can’t afford physical plant directors, maybe the principals will have to handle that like they used to. We pretty much have to take our schools apart and put them back together at a level that produces results we can afford and a price we can afford.

  10. teacher4life says:

    We need to make it MANDITORY for the students to take a financial literacy class to graduate. We need class sizes to be below 20. We need to actually ENFORCE truancy–both on the kids AND the parents. We need college-education classes being taught, WITH the parents so these inner-city parents know what the ACT is, what financial aid is and how to apply for it, and how to apply for scholarships and grants. We need to give these kids job-skills so that they can get part-time jobs over the summer and after school rather than being on the streets, joining gangs and being persuaded to drop out.

    I’m a teacher, and I see this as throwing money at schools with no direction as well. Give us teachers a direction to go, and we will!! Right now Dayton is saying “Make schools better. Ready? Go!” Gee, thanks.

  11. Melissa says:

    Tax and spend, tax and spend; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result.

  12. invest in our kids says:

    I can’t believe how uninformed people on here are. Did you know that the federal government mandates special education, yet does not pay the bill. I would be willing to bet that if you had a child struggling with autism, down’s syndrome, physical handicaps or any other special need you would want them getting the help they get in school. Yet, when the federal government mandates these and doesn’t pay for it the money has to come from some where. That is why the money doesn’t go as far. MN tax payers and school cuts are footing the bill.

    Then you add in the number of students getting free and reduced lunches, where do you suppose those costs come from. The increased cost of heating a building, the increased costs of health care, as well as the increased needs for psychological care for kids whose parents are not doing their jobs raising their kids.

    It’s a travesty what the public asks of teachers day in and day out. Classrooms are over flowing, schools are falling apart, equipment is breaking and teachers continue to get pay freezes while their insurance keeps going up.

    You think schools are getting more money? Governor Pawlenty killed schools with his hold backs. Schools with healthy reserves were forced to borrow money or go into SOD.

    Before you go out and complain about a topic you know nothing about, maybe you should do a little home work, something you should have learned from a teacher.

  13. Liz Promer says:

    How ironic that you featured Emmet D. Williams in this story. The real story at Emmet D. Williams and the Roseville school district are cuts in Physical Education despite the MN Legislative priority “Healthy Kids Bill”
    Signed 5/25/2010 and the fact that the number of overweight/obese children has tripled over the last 30 years. My son attends Emmet D. Williams and is in the 3rd grade. Am I concerned about literacy Gov. Dayton? Sure, but not at the cost of Phyical Education. A cut in P.E. will effect his literacy and all of his learning activites. It is a fact that increased P.E. improves academic performance. Reducing P.E. is counter productive to student health and learning. This is the hottest politcal issue in Roseville in the last month. We have a seeming untrust worthy school board, Superintendent, and a group of principals that are caught in the middle. PLEASE DO A STORY ABOUT THIS ISSUE! The following link is information that the Roseville School District will not put on their website:
    Can we get the Governor’s attention?

  14. Kevin says:

    Spend ….Spend….Spend…..Spend…..Spend…..Spend…..Spend….Spend….hey we are ranked #37 in the Nation for education….let’s just keep dumping money in the Teachers Union and the garbage they have become….

  15. 623 Parent says:

    I’m interested in learning what indeed his plan will be to close this achievement gap and agree with the comments above on not willing to reduce the Phy Ed. Figure out how you are going to decrease classroom sizes and not take away anything more from the kids. 623 has already taken away the classroom parties (Halloween, Winter and Valentine’s Day) because instructional time is needed. To my knowledge from viewing the EDW website, parents and students were asked if they wanted to keep the parties and overwhelmingly they did – yet it was taken away and if replaced, was with things not comparible. I now get to tell my child we aren’t buying Valentine’s for their classmates because well…your school feels it’s a religious holiday. GARBAGE! I have a feeling the same song and dance will be done with Phy Ed. They’ll tell us they’ll listen to us but the administration has it’s own plans. KSTP did a brief story on the reduction of Phy Ed in the Roseville school district and were supposed to go back when the school board meeting took place (over 130 parents were in attendance); but, did not. It’s absolutely ridiculous what the district was and is trying to pull as it relates to Phy Ed. I think more attention needs to be brought to what’s happening in these schools and what is being taken away from our children; maybe WCCO can do just that!
    We have so many kids stuffed into classrooms because the district sees dollar signs. Reducing classroom sizes is key to a better education yet we just keep stuffing kids in the classroom. Teachers are overwhelmed and more and more kids are thought to have ADD/ADHD but do they really? With these classroom sizes already high, you take away the little Phy Ed (sorry, hiring activity specialists for recess does not take the place of actual Phy Ed) some of the schools already have and I don’t even want to think about the stresses the teachers and children will feel.
    The future will be all of the focus on closing the achievement gap while the kids that are currently in the middle of their class will dwindle and not receive the education they too need to succeed because the focus is elsewhere.

  16. Josh Thoreson says:

    I save every penny to put my daughter in private school because the results are simply better. Her school spends about $3,500 per pupil. The local public school spends over $9,000. Wyoming spends twice what Utah does for about the same results. Teachers unions tell you it’s all about the money.

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