MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty called on the state's top corporate executives Thursday night to help improve Minnesota schools by supporting a pay-incentive for teachers.
Some schools are overwhelmed with problems and challenges from chronic poverty to heavy immigrant enrollment, Pawlenty told members of the Minnesota Business Partnership, an association of the chief executives of 100 of the state's largest corporations.
The group held its annual dinner at the Marriott City Center in Minneapolis. About 600 business leaders and 75 elected officials attended.
Pawlenty prodded the partnership to help find a way to finance more rewards for Minnesota's best teachers.
Speaking of the pay-incentive proposal, Pawlenty said: "I'm going to ask you to manage that and fund it."
The governor also spoke of a "Minnesota Non-Profit Management Academy" for public schools that he said were full of competent and goodhearted people, but who needed additional training in efficient management.
Pawlenty praised the group for its lobbying efforts and successes in reducing workers' compensation costs, reducing commercial-industrial tax rates, and reducing tax rates and government spending in general.
He was "not here to kick the shins of job-providers," the governor said, but he wanted to encourage businesses to look beyond their immediate balance sheets and to "plant some shade trees" for posterity.
"It's imperative that we educate and train as many Minnesotans as possible," Pawlenty said, in order to compete long-term in the world economy.
Janet Dolan, president and CEO of the Tennant Co., the incoming chairwoman of the Business Partnership, said that the group was interested in Pawlenty's request for help and that the group has "always been interested in innovation."
But Dolan said she didn't know whether the group would be able to help or to what extent.
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