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House-Passed Education Bill Calls For Funding, Tenure Cuts

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(credit: CBS) Esme Murphy
Esme Murphy, a reporter and Sunday morning anchor for WCCO-TV, h...
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By Esme Murphy, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The Republican House passed a sweeping education bill that would change funding for every school in Minnesota. It would also change the way teachers and schools are evaluated.

The proposal would actually increase per pupil funding for all kids. But it would also slash funding that helps integrate urban schools and freeze special education funding.

The bill would also slash teacher’s collective bargaining rights.

It still has yet to be passed by the Minnesota Senate and Gov. Mark Dayton said there are a lot of provisions he doesn’t like. Funding for integration of urban schools would be eliminated and students at poorly performing schools would qualify for money vouchers to help pay for a private school.

The measure would eliminate teacher tenure in favor of five-year contracts. Teacher’s evaluations would then be based on students’ test scores.

Republicans argue the current education system is to blame for the much-debated achievement gap between white students and students of color.

“Right now, we base our hiring and retention decision purely based on seniority and we don’t think that’s right. We think quality should be a part of the retention process for keeping teachers,” said Chair of the Education Finance Committee, Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington.

The teachers union, Education Minnesota, lashed out at the proposal saying it calls for Wisconsin-like limits on teachers’ collective bargaining rights and implements radical and untested methods for evaluating students, teachers and schools.

The proposal would also grade schools from A to F. Top performing schools would get more money.

Democrats like Rep. Mindy Greiling said the bill would make the achievement gap worse not better.

“It takes from poor kids and children with disabilities and gives to other kids who don’t have as many needs,” she said.

Dayton said he has strong concerns about a number of the proposals.

“Abolishing integration aid and abolishing the funding for special education is just not something I can support,” said Dayton.

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