ST. PAUL (AP) -- For the first time, the Profile of Learning faces a governor who has sworn to get rid of it.
The embattled graduation requirement barely survived the last Legislative session. Now, after last week's election, the next session could be the best chance Profile opponents have had to jettison or overhaul the learning-by-doing initiative.
"I really feel this is the first true opportunity to get rid of it," said Rep. Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, a perennial opponent of the Profile of Learning. "The time is now."
Dumping the Profile will be "part of the opening salvo package of our legislative agenda," said Sen. Michele Bachmann, R-Stillwater. She said she believes that her opposition to the Profile helped her win re-election Tuesday.
If the Profile dies, Minnesota risks running afoul of the federal "No Child Left Behind" law. That law will require children to be tested every year from third through eighth grades by the 2005-06 school year. The federal law also requires that states have academic standards in place for those tests to measure. Minnesota has its standards embedded in the Profile of Learning.
That means if opponents scrap the Profile, they'd better have something to take its place, said Sen. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul, chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee and a Profile supporter.
"I guess I'd say that we want to work with the new governor, we want to keep high standards and fix the problems," she said. " 1/8But 3/8 I hope he knows that we have to comply with the Bush administration and the federal law or we risk losing $200 million in federal funds a year."
Pappas said she's open to reworking the graduation rule in a way that reduces the number of standards and concentrates on core subject areas.
The Profile of Learning, an idea born in the 1980s, was made a requirement for all Minnesota public schools beginning in the 1998-99 school year. It's meant as a way for children to show what they have learned in school instead of just moving from one grade to the next by doing basic schoolwork.
Tens of millions of dollars have been spent to implement the requirements, and hundreds of Profile standards have been introduced into schools.
Profile tasks include big multimedia projects, learning in groups, lots of writing and more community work.
Beginning with the Class of 2002, seniors were expected to complete 24 Profile standards to graduate. But in 2000, facing growing opposition to the rule, the Legislature decided to let school districts proceed at their own pace toward requiring those 24 standards.
Even before it took effect, critics had targeted the Profile as a record-keeping nightmare and mushy education that they say replaces knowledge with nonacademic experiences and busy work.
At the Legislature, the Profile has been a constant target.
Until now, the Profile has had powerful supporters in the governor's office; both former governor Arne Carlson and current Gov. Jesse Ventura have been proponents.
But in January, Republican Tim Pawlenty will take over. He has made the demise of the Profile one of his top education priorities. Pawlenty spokesman Tim Morin recently reiterated the governor-elect's opposition to the Profile.
"He wants to scrap it and replace it with rigorous new standards based on reading, writing, math and science," Morin said.
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