Minnesota's New Math

Minnesota ranked fifth in student funding in 1970 but now sits at 36th in a recent school quality national report.

"We've been slipping for a while," said Brenda Cassellius, the new education commissioner. "I don't think that's what Minnesotans want."

Education funding makes up nearly half of the state budget that is facing a $6 billion projected shortfall.

The following is from a Jan 27, Star-Tribune article headlined:

"We're at a time now where there are no more escape hatches," said Brad Lundell, director of Schools for Equity in Education. SEE, a group of 58 districts, is threatening to sue the state if funding inequities aren't fixed this year.

Minnesota's system survived a legal challenge nearly 20 years ago during easier budgetary times. But that 1993 state Supreme Court ruling also said that every student has a fundamental right to equal education. But how is that possible when the money's dried up?

The answer to that question will directly affect the state's more than 830,000 students and 52,000 teachers.

A new cast of political players will decide the issue. Gov. Mark Dayton taught school 40 years ago and has vowed to stand between the ax and education funding. But the Republican takeover makes the Legislature less beholden to the once-powerful 70,000-member teachers' union, which historically endorses DFLers.

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