Uninformed voters in Minnesota think the DFL is committed to K-12 education, possibly because Education Minnesota, the biggest teachers union in Minnesota, enthusiastically campaigns for the DFL each election cycle.
People might have a different opinion if they looked at the DFL's policies. Voters might have a different opinion of the DFL if they knew the DFL proposed a bill to eliminate teacher accountability. Here's the bill's description:
K-12 teachers; requirement repealed for teachers to pass a basic skills examination in reading, writing, and mathematics as a condition for receiving a teaching license.
Education activists have questioned this bill. In questioning the bill, they've cited specific facts to support the argument that students aren't getting taught by qualified teachers:
My district — Sauk Rapid-Rice — has 37 teachers with certification waivers or variances, including four certified for elementary education teaching secondary math and science. Their college-level course work did not include geometry, trigonometry or even college algebra.
A Star Tribune report in April 2011 revealed that “more than 900 Minnesota teachers over the past five years have violated licensing rules … including 62 who taught with no license at all…. Violations mostly involved instructors teaching the wrong subject or grade level affecting as many as 57,000 students ...”
How can the DFL say that they support excellence in education when unqualified teachers are teaching in violation of licensing laws?
That's just part of the problem. In 2010, the DFL legislature, in conjunction with Gov. Tim Pawlenty, balanced the budget with a massive school shift. In 2011, Gov. Dayton and the GOP legislature balanced the budget by using another school shift.
In 2012, the GOP legislature passed a bill that would've paid off both school shifts. Gov. Dayton vetoed the bill. This year, Gov. Dayton's revised budget called for repaying the rest of the school shift...in 2017.
How can a political party that's proposed gutting teacher accountability and stiffing school districts out of hundreds of millions of dollars be considered the education party?
The dirty little secret is that the DFL isn't really the education party. They're the party owned by the teachers union, which is a significant difference.