Minnesotans, in Governor Pawlenty's words, want government to function like our households are supposed to. We can't spend more than we take in. Minnesotans are starting to realize that throwing more money at our educational system is good money after bad. More money won't change the fact that our system is broken. That our educational system has fallen victim to the whims of our teachers unions, which have more lobbyists in St. Paul than any other entity, by far.
But wait. Didn't the 2007 Minnesota Legislature add $800 million to the $12 billion the state already spends on schools? If so many more dollars will be flowing into district coffers, then why the predictions of severe cuts? Hasn't this pattern repeated itself several times in recent years -- schools get more state money, but it is still not enough?
Over half of our State budget goes to education. It will never be enough for those that refuse to hold our teachers and our schools accountable for the culture in our schools and the results they are producing.
I am on the finance committee of a charter school and I can tell you that money is not the issue. This school meets or exceeds measured results against the benchmark of it's public peers. It has a disciplined environment, and makes due with less resources. Charter schools are starting to show that there is a better way, and are creating competition for their traditional public counterparts.
Many of the best students and their parents are looking for alternatives. Despite a mediocre facility and a lack of sports programs, our school now has a long waiting list.
Polls show that Minnesotans want increased investment in schools. They are unhappy with school cuts, and supported (in 2004 and 2006) legislative candidates who campaigned on greater support for K-12 and transportation funding. Still, last year, Minnesota voters rejected about 60 percent of the 74 excess-levy referendums that were on ballots across the state -- the lowest percentage of approved school levies since 1980.
I would love to see these "polls" and how this data is being interpreted.
Many voters, understandably nervous about their jobs and economic futures, don't want property-tax hikes. Rather, they look for improved school support from the state, where the cost can be spread among more taxpayers.
And they are right.
True to form, let's get someone else to pay! Liberals want good schools in their community but aren't willing to pay for them despite the fact that the quality of a community's schools is a primary factor in property values.
It's all coming out of the same bucket folks. If the state cuts aid to education, property taxes are going to go up. It misses the point in any case. The problem isn't revenue. It's lack of accountability in the system and rewarding it with more money will only perpetuate the issue.