It is impossible to discuss education without discussing funding these days and Minnesota got a first look at the education spending proposed by Governor Mark Dayton as part of the new state budged late last week. While the proposed spending may not be perfect, Minnesotans can take heart that the governor is looking to aggressively boost education spending.
The good news is that the proposal would increase spending on education by $344 million over the next two years. Special education spending would be increased by $125 over that time with an additional $84 million going to scholarships for approximately 10,000 students to attend full-day kindergarten or pre-school. The remaining funds would be distributed to K through 12 schools across the state.
Detractors of the proposal worry that the $4,000 scholarships may not be enough to cover costs. There is also a concern that the inequalities that exist between school district finances, which is largely a function of the antiquated and ineffective property tax funding of the education system, will not be addressed. But the most glaring point of contention for both Democrats and Republicans is that the proposal, were it adopted as is, would put off the repayment of money that the state borrowed from education in 2011 until 2017.
No plan is perfect but at least the state government is putting education as a top priority. While the proposal will likely change more than once before the budget is finalized, it does set the groundwork for education funding discussion and any improvements to education is a positive for everyone.