K-12 education consumes 41% of our state's 2014-2015 budget, the largest category by 11 percent next to health & human services. Education policy is a crucial component of how our next governor will lead, and is directly linked to the performance of our economy and quality of life in our state.
Say what you will about former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, but I will always harbor some loyalty to him for his part in replacing the process-centered Profile of Learning state education standards, which were put into place largely by administrative rule under the Jesse Ventura administration with little or no input from the Legislature. Pawlenty's administration replaced The Profile with knowledge-based academic standards, and enabled school districts to use the Q Comp pay-for-performance system for teachers instead of the "steps and lanes" system favored by the teachers unions, which rewards seniority and continuing education.
Jeff Johnson, candidate for the Republican endorsement for governor, published a challenging blog post Monday, "We Are All In This Together," in observance of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. He challenged us all, Democrats and Republicans, and everyone else, to not be satisfied with just having a diverse cast "at the table." He challenged Minnesotans to pursue education policies that have shown actual results in closing the achievement gap, instead of policies that simply follow party or ideological orthodoxy.
As Ronald Reagan famously observed, when government expands, liberty contracts. So it is with the so-called Common Core standards, like No Child Left Behind, yet another attempt to impose curriculum and standards onto local school districts. The State of Minnesota and its school districts have plenty of experts in curriculum and instruction to ensure world-class academics in our public schools. We do not need Common Core. I will be calling on all of the candidates for governor to earn my vote in the primary election by saying "no" to Common Core.