Enough about Race to the Top; fund our schools


Gov. Tim Pawlenty recently blamed Minnesota lawmakers for failing to change laws that might help the state win federal funds through the Race to the Top grant initiative.

Really Governor? After a legislative session that balanced the budget on the backs of school kids, you’re going play the Race to the Top blame game?

None of the proposed changes in statute would have helped students learn more and most of the federal funds, if we received any at all, would have gone toward specific projects, not educating students.

If Minnesotans want to be outraged about the declining quality of education, look no further than the inflation-adjusted 14 percent decline in state aid to schools since 2003, not to mention the education “shifts” agreed to on Monday. How can schools be expected to educate students when their budgets are slashed by the Governor and lawmakers in St. Paul?

Race to the Top is a distraction from the greater funding debacle, perpetuated by the Governor’s “no-new-tax” mantra of the past eight years. In his press release , Pawlenty’s public relations department wrote that “without changes to alternative pathways for teacher licensure, creating a statewide evaluation system linked to student achievement, defining effective teachers to place in high need schools, tenure reform and the ability of the commissioner to intervene in and improve struggling schools, Minnesota education officials said the state would likely receive fewer points in the second round than we did in the first.”

There’s nothing in that statement about keeping class sizes manageable, about more teachers for core classes, more remedial teachers for students lagging in core subjects, better facilities, current textbooks or any number of items necessary to provide a 21st century education.

Gov. Pawlenty has conducted an economic jihad against education, drawing attention to minor issues such as alternative licensure and teacher evaluation systems while simultaneously draining schools of financial resources, then blaming educators for poor student performance on unrealistic assessments like No Child Left Behind.

A quality education is not cheap, but it is less expensive than the education we’re paying for now. Minnesota needs a highly trained workforce to compete for jobs in the coming years. The Governor would have us believe the path to this workforce lies in Race to the Top. It does not. Proper funding of education is the answer.

Enough with Race to the Top. Now is the time to concentrate on funding of our education system.