Pawlenty proposals good, but may not be feasible, local educators say
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ideas for education reform are good but may not be feasible, local school administrators said. Administrators said the 2 percent funding increases for the next two years Pawlenty proposed Wednesday during his State o...
Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty's ideas for education reform are good but may not be feasible, local school administrators said.
Administrators said the 2 percent funding increases for the next two years Pawlenty proposed Wednesday during his State of the State address are better than the nothing they received for three of the last five years, but it's still not enough.
Pawlenty is also proposing different pay for performance incentives - something administrators said should come after schools are adequately funded.
"The state has a responsibility to fund public education appropriately," said Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton Superintendent Bernie Lipp. "I feel that any time you provide separate incentives you run the risk of not funding programs equitably."
The governor also wants more rigorous math standards, graduation plans for eighth-graders, and four years of a second language to graduate high school.
"Some of these things are perhaps good on the surface," Moorhead School District Superintendent Larry Nybladh said. "The problem is with the already crowded curriculum and with the state mandating other graduation requirements it becomes almost impossible for students to access some of these programs."
Dale Hogie, Lake Park Audubon superintendent, is concerned stricter math standards will hurt schools' graduation rates.
"Students may choose to leave school at an even younger age," he said.
"Four years of foreign language is totally unrealistic unless other academic requirements or electives are reduced or eliminated," Hogie added.
The governor used his State of the State speech to urge the Legislature to pass proposals that would reward students for exceptional achievement with free tuition.
"Typically students ranking at the top of their grade come from families who are well educated and financially comfortable," Hogie said. "Pawlenty's plan would provide a financial benefit to those who probably can afford college while average students from lower income families will not be assisted."
Pawlenty also wants the legislature to pass his proposal requiring districts spend at least 70 percent of funding in the classroom, which administrators oppose because district needs vary.
"You have to look local," said Steve Jordahl, Barnesville superintendent, who added that his district, which is not administrator heavy and does not own its transportation, did not make 70 percent last year.
Instead of all-day everyday kindergarten, Pawlenty is proposing an early childhood scholarship program.
Administrators said targeting at-risk students early on is a good approach, but not funding all-day everyday kindergarten leaves a major gap.
"These investments in early childhood and kindergarten are not really expenses, these are investments and they will have a return if they're paid as a state," Nybladh said.
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