Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Saving Minnesota from predatory school boards

Wiley E. Coyote
School board member 
The Minnesota House Un-Education chair Pat Garofalo unveiled his plan to make school board levy referenda more "transparent." After everyone was settled in a room at the Capitol and had their pencils poised for the word from Pat, he dropped the bombshell: only hold school board referenda in years that can be divided by two.

Somebody undoubtedly said, I beg your pardon, that's it? We came all the way over here and paid for parking for that? Are you kidding me?

A lot of people, including some DFL legislators, were not amused. Senator Chuck Wiger, a DFLer from Maplewood and a ranking member of the Senate Education Committee, said, "This announcement by Rep. Garofalo is an unbelievable ruse to cover for the mess the GOP majorities created for our schools this past year."

Personally, I don't think it's that good.

Mindy Greiling, DFL House member from Roseville, and the ranking member of the House Education Committee issued a statement that is just too good not to quote in its entirety:
(ST. PAUL) – State Representative Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville), the DFL Lead on the House Education Finance Committee, responded to State Representative Pat Garofalo’s proposal to limit and hold all school levy referenda questions in even-year elections.

“Legislative Republicans tied one hand behind the back of school districts with their shifts and gimmicks. Now they want to tie the other hand to prevent districts from compensating for their borrowing which now totals $4,168 per student.

“This proposal is an attack on local control. Minnesota communities should be trusted to make appropriate budget decisions that are best for their schools and children. I have not heard from a single Minnesotan who feels she needs to be protected from her predatory locally-elected school board. Rather, this is a deflection by legislative Republicans who are facing harsh criticism about their misplaced priorities from all corners of the state. Minnesota schools are now owed $3.45 billion and there is no plan in place to pay it back. Parents, students and school districts are fed up that this year’s legislature borrowed unprecedented amounts from our students.

“With continued underfunding of local schools, more school districts are asking voters to renew existing levies as well as fund general operations rather than cut teachers or increase class sizes. Today’s proposal is a distraction from this year’s $2.2 billion shift where Republicans withheld funding from schools in order to dole back a bit of an increase, which districts used to pay interest on their bank loans.

“Today’s announcement has nothing to do with increasing participation. The only transparency I saw today was the crystal clear attempt to defeat local levies.

“The state needs more accountability and transparency from the education chairman. It is not helpful for Representative Garofalo to repeatedly take credit for an education funding increase number with no basis in recognized accounting principles. He’s taking credit for 18,000 more students enrolled in Minnesota schools [in other words, since enrollment is up, per pupil funding is up] and more students in poverty in order to take sole credit for increased school funding. Unfortunately, the only funding increase this year went to pay banks for letting schools borrow to cover cash flow shortages.”
Garofalo could have described his plan in a two-sentence email. The timing of the "announcement" -- I'm being generous here -- just be before the election is a laughable diversionary tactic.

I mean, really, you'd almost think that Garofalo was a member of ALEC. Of course, he is; in fact he's on ALEC's Task Force Stupify.

Update: Here is the ALEC blueprint for schools.

Image from Looney Tunes

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