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Take The House GOP Obstruction Of Pre-K Into The 2016 Election

Category: Education
Posted: 06/02/15 09:46

by Dave Mindeman

It looks like Pre-K is not going to be part of the budget deal. Dayton settled for an increase in the per pupil formula - which will probably allow some districts to offer it.

But the House GOP managed to obstruct and block more progress in education which the Governor is envisioning as the way forward for Minnesota.

GOP tactics were pretty lame. They added policy issues (transgender bathrooms and repeal of LIFO) into the game as red herrings. Setting up a smokescreen that took the focus off the education funding questions and which were clearly meant to frustrate the Governor - who assumed they were talking about one thing, only to be distracted by policy that was never in the original conference bill.

When parents are offered a chance at Pre-K, they take it. Those that can afford it, find a way. But so many parents are both working and barely covering their basic expenses. To them, Pre-K is an education luxury that they just have to leave off the table.

Peter Bell, who is now with the GOP think tank - the Center For The American Experiment - wrote an op-ed in the strib stating that, "For projects like prekindergarten, there's no way to calculate what today's spending will mean to budgets in 10 years." He says that big returns on these investments is a "myth". Apparently ignoring the numerous studies that prove those investments are real an tangible. Maybe they can't fully account for all the variables, but the data moves only in one direction - a significant return on investment.

I guarantee you that a Pre-K return is a lock compared to the idea that tax cuts stimulate the economy.

I hope the House Democrats take this to the 2016 elections. It is clear that the House GOP blocked an opportunity for Pre-K. The money was there....in the bank...but when the 2016 session unfolds, we will see that money getting used for more tax cutting measures and ridiculous policy ideas.

Picking and choosing which 4 year olds are given Pre-K opportunities puts us back into probable achievement gap issues. Sure some poor kids will get the help, but where do you draw the line? Who moves forward and who stays behind. Why can't we just put all of Minnesota's kids on the same level playing field?

It is another lost opportunity. Add it to the pile that the House GOP sacrifices for their estate tax cuts and one time tax rebates and business property tax breaks.

Shuffling money around on a paper trail is not a vision for Minnesota's future. Dayton has put this state on a path to prosperity, but he has more ideas to fulfill.

Next year, take back the House and move Minnesota back on that forward path again.
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Pre-K Education: Like Getting Gold For The Price Of Copper

Category: Education
Posted: 05/29/15 13:56

by Dave Mindeman

Let's say you walk into a garage sale and notice something shiny on one of the tables. You walk over to that area and see a solid gold ingot stating a weight of 2 ounces. As you look closer, you see a certificate of authenticity from the Federal Reserve. Since you consider yourself the investor type, you have kept track of the gold price and know that right now the spot price for gold is $1,190 per ounce - making that little ingot a $2400 value. Yet, there it sits with a little yellow tag that says $50.

Do you a) come back later after you have time to think about it, or b) try to negotiate a better price, or c) throw the $50 cash down on the table and say, "I'll take it!".

In our current budget negotiations we have several things that need to be addressed. We have environmental policies to discern and if the final product cuts back on regulations like the vetoed bill does, then the state will lose money on the prospect - as the land of 10,000 lakes allows its standards to be downgraded.

Since it continues to look like we will have no money for transportation on the table, the state of Minnesota will, again, delay more projects which will cost the state more money for every day we delay.

And then there is the education bill...where the argument centers around Pre-K funding. Pre-K is like that gold ingot at the garage sale. It's value is way beyond the investment we need to fund it with. For every dollar we spend, we will be guaranteed a return of $4, $6, or even $10 down the road. Yet, incredibly, we seem to be "negotiating" the price.

Every level of investment we make in Pre-K increases our return. Yes, scholarships for those that need it will help. But half-day Pre-K for all will return much more....and the gold standard of all day Pre-K will bring about the best return of all.

The House GOP obviously sees some value. They are willing to fund Pre-K programs at a low level. But it's like they are looking at that guaranteed value gold ingot and think that somehow they need to hold back that $50 for a tax cut later. Even though they have the money in their hand, they would rather risk a tax cut that may, in the end, put us back into deficits, rather than invest in an absolute multiple dollar return.

If the House GOP is going to be this type of financial advisor, then I think the State of Minnesota needs to look elsewhere for that advice.
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Republicans Don't Hate Public Schools - It's Worse

Category: Education
Posted: 05/27/15 22:48

by Dave Mindeman

In the run up to the end of the last session and during the back and forth getting ready for the special session, the Republicans made a big deal about Governor Dayton's remarks that "some Republicans hate public schools."

Speaker Daudt and GOP leadership wanted an apology. They felt disrespected and the terminology couldn't be further from the truth. They do NOT hate public education.

Well, I guess I am going to agree with them somewhat. They don't HATE public education. They have a much bigger problem with it. They don't respect it.

Republicans give their support to private schools. They will stand with homeschooling. They even go to bat for some charter schools. But when it comes to public schools - they do not have the respect that should be given to our biggest public asset - public education.

The MN GOP doesn't respect the teachers. They don't respect the funding. They don't respect the value to our future. They don't respect the Constitutional mandate we have been given to educate every child.

And that is why it is hard for Governor Dayton to take them seriously when they negotiate on funding public schools. The House GOP prefers to define problems rather than look for solutions. Governor Dayton's promotion of Pre-K is not just a publicity stunt or a funding boondoggle. It is an honest attempt to add another tool to make Minnesota's kids the best educated in the country. To give Minnesota another edge for businesses looking for the best educated workforce. To give educators another means of fixing the achievement gap and tapping future potential.

So Republicans don't hate public schools. But when you are responsible for finding ways to educate every child in the state - not just most of them, but every one of them- utilizing every tool available....and yet do not respect the process that comes from funding that responsibility, you prove that you have failed your Constitutional duty for maintaining a public school system that works for all of us.

It is very simple. You cannot hate what you don't respect. And therein lies a very basic problem. A problem that will make a special session all the more difficult.
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