One year of moving the education debate forward


Since launching a little over a year ago, Minnesota 2020 is moving the public education and funding policy debate forward. We’re producing thorough, vetted research reports. We’re highlighting underreported issues. We’re calling out people and organizations that deceive, inveigle and obfuscate the truth about education.

Of all our important work, perhaps we have the most fun shining a light on those who try to negatively color the truth about education.

In October, we were the first to report that Iowa levy-buster Paul Dorr was “swiftboating” the Robbinsdale school district levy effort. In August, we called out the state Department of Education for releasing the results of the NCLB annual yearly progress report at 4:30 p.m. the day before the Labor Day weekend, thus ensuring low exposure to this unflattering report.

In October, we reported that Taxpayers League president Phil Krinkie said that significantly disabled special education students should be jettisoned from public schools to make more room for mainstream students. We labeled Krinkie’s idea as what it is: heartless .

In July, we reported that teachers spend an average of $500 on classroom supplies out of their pocket each year before the first day of school. In September, we wrote about the burgeoning number of Hispanic students in rural Minnesota. At the same time, there are less than five Hispanic teachers in Albert Lea, Worthington, Willmar and Faribault combined.

In November, we reported that Supplemental Education Services, a key provision of the No Child Left Behind Act, has no effect on improving NCLB-required test scores. In January, we reported that some special education teachers spend as much as 15 hours extra each week to fill out paperwork.

In April, we reported that if schools spent only the money the state gives them to provide an education, they would be forced to close their doors on April 24.

In February, we released a report, “A Chilling Call to St. Paul,” that showed superintendents across the state believe current school funding is ruining the quality of education in Minnesota.

In March, we reported that more than 1,000 teachers will be cut by the end of the school year. Several weeks later, we reported that Brainerd was losing 15 percent of its teaching force while Grand Meadow was lose 14 percent and Forest Lake, North Branch, and La Crescent were losing 10 percent.

We produced two major education reports. In February, our collaboration with Macalester College produced “Teachers Voice,” a report that found most state teachers have serious doubts about No Child Left Behind’s effect on state education. In October we released “Growing Gap,” a report on the value of mentoring new teachers.

We have had several impressive guest columnists. Dave Jennings, the superintendent of Chaska schools and former GOP Speaker of the Minnesota House, has written for Minnesota 2020, as has Steve Kelley, another former legislator and a Senior Fellow at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs. We assembled an Education Advisory Board that is comprised of the best and most influential members of the Minnesota education community.

That’s impressive for any organization. Don’t expect us to let up. In the coming year we’ll continue to press policymakers and the public to ensure every Minnesota student has the educational opportunities for a successful future.