Brainerd School District supporters of kindergarten through 12 education might feel a little self-satisfied after the passage of two school levy referendums this month.
Resist that temptation. There’s work to be done at the Minnesota Legislature if we’re to avoid the same painful process of going to the voters, hat in hand, in order to stave off painful budget cuts.
Now that there’s a degree of momentum among education supporters pressure should be put on the governor and lawmakers to fund K-12 education so districts can provide a quality education regardless of how healthy their tax bases are. In this era of statewide testing, all students are held to the same educational standards. Shouldn’t they all have the benefit of class sizes and program offerings that are roughly the same? In our view, they should, whether they live in Wayzata or Baudette.
The governor and state Legislature are not fully meeting their constitutional duty to fund education. They can start by paying school districts the money they have borrowed from them.
Unless a concerted effort is made to see that education funding is equitable throughout the state, Minnesota school districts will be split between the haves and have-nots. The haves (those districts whose residents feel they can support extra levies) will flourish while the have-nots (school districts with struggling economies) will make do with inadequate funding.
That’s no way to fund a state’s education system. And when politicians campaign in 2012 and talk of their support for education they should be pointedly asked what they’ll do to eliminate this growing inequity.