This week, Minnesota 2020 released results from a survey of more than half the state's school superintendents. More than 99 percent of the respondents said the state's education funding system is broken. Almost 90 percent said the quality of education in the state will continue to decline if the system isn't fixed.
In addition to the survey report, Minnesota 2020 laid out the impact of mandated special education services in public schools — and state and federal under-reimbursement for those costs.
Many commenters on the Pioneer Press report of the findings weren't impressed.
Minnesota needs to stop throwing money at the education mess and come up with a new plan. We have in real terms increased spending on K-12 by 28% (adjusted for inflation) the past 10 years while our student enrolment numbers have declined. MN spends 2.6 billion on special education and ESL each year. These children are not our future inventors and leaders[,] who are being short changed by Minnesota schools.
Parents of Gifted and Talented youths better be wealthy because most districts have the parents pay hundreds of dollars out of their own pockets to have their children tested and then these parents pay thousands more out of their pockets to place these students in accelerated classes at the UofM and elsewhere, yet we spend billions on children who are mentally challenged and inspire to one day clean up after us at McDonalds.
Minnesota needs to break free of Federal mandates that force us to spend 2.6 billion on special education and ESL (Supposedly reimbursed by the Federal Government but has never been so) and use this money to invest in the gifted and talented and “average” student body. We need to stop wasting 19% of our yearly State Education budget on future Wal-Mart greeters and spend it on our future engineers, scientists, and leaders!
— Mankato Mike
Wow, Mankato Mike. Not many people have the guts to say that. But well said. You hit on the real reason that there is never enough money for schools. There isnt enough for 'normal' school things, teachers, books etc. because too much is required to be spent on the bottom of the accademic barel. Trying with all the might possible to do some really noble things. The only problem is that it is happening at the expense of the rest of the barrel.
Not that the bottom of the barrel should be drained out from the barrel, but we need to stop trying to make it into top shelf stuff.
Eventually, commenter NNR saved me the trouble of responding with an excellent post.
The goal of education is not to make geniuses of all people, but to give each student the education that will help them become the best adults they can be. Schools are supposed to be turning out people who become independent, contributing members of society. It goes far beyond scientists and leaders...
When we introduce a hierarchy of "rights" based on who we think will be the most valuable members of society, where does it stop? Do we stop with education or do we determine which other rights should be withheld. Who gets health insurance? Who lives in which community? How about who lives and who dies? Would you make the cut, Mike?
Special education includes not just those with significant cognitive delays, but those with mental health issues, physical disabilities, dyslexia and related cognitive issues and learners for whom English is a new language. Have you ever heard of F. W. Woolworth, Albert Einstein, George Patton, and Nelson Rockefeller? Under your criteria, they would not have been given an education.
As for expense to parents of gifted kids, every student in Minnesota has the right to enter college when they are a junior in high school. This accelerated program provides the opportunity for a student to attend two years of college at no expense to parents. The state pays the full cost of tuition and books, and local districts lose $6,000 per student in aid. The parents pay nothing.
It is a crime that the federal government has not lived up to its end of the bargain and is only covering 17% of the 40% they promised when they enacted special education laws. Your beef should not be with those who receive special education, but those who wrote the laws and then reneged on their promise.
Could this outpouring from the Special-Ed-is-ruining-the-schools forces signal a return of last year's "Freedom to Poop" campaign with which certain GOP wits smeared DFL legislation? Are they going to merge with their natural allies, the anti-immigrant, anti-union and pro-school voucher folks?
Or will they be too busy in their jobs as CEOs and rocket scientists to propose actual solutions for the funding problem?
UPDATE: David Brauer has a post about PiPress commenters.