The Big Story Blog

Learning from the 'No' votes in school levies?

Posted at 3:04 PM on November 3, 2011 by Paul Tosto
Filed under: Education, Taxes

Is there wisdom in the "No" vote?

We read through emails this afternoon from Minnesotans in MPR's Public Insight Network who told us they would not vote for their school levy next week.

It's telling when people who say they've long supported public education share their misgivings. Whether you support or oppose your local levy next week, there's something to be learned from the "No" voters we heard from. Here's a sampling.

Thomas Binsfield, Sauk Rapids


I visit schools from all across the state administering standardized tests. This job has given me an excellent opportunity to see the differences between school districts. Given this perspective, my local school district is faring significantly better in terms of facilities, academic/athletic/extracurricular activities than many others. I do not see a reason to support a levy that will continue to divide the "haves" from the "have nots".

Jonathan James, Stillwater

I am 100% behind investments in education. My grandfather was a college prof., father a prof, brothers and uncles are teachers, and I am a certified public school substitute. But, I will vote against the district referendum. The reason is that my kids attend a (private school operating) on 60-70% of the budget of Stillwater schools with higher achievement.

It is fiscally irresponsible for us to continue to feed the mega schools. AND - instead of stop dumping money into war and wall street, we should take some of the billions from the military and invest in schools! The money is already there - it is just being spent on idiotic programs like laser guided explosives instead of books.

Bob Anttila, Cloquet

From 30 years' experience as a public school teacher, it is my opinion that any additional money will be used either to pay for a new football stadium, hire more hockey, football, wrestling and basketball coaches ("By the way can you teach something?"), or add a new gym or air conditioned administrative offices/administrators.

Historically, adding real classrooms and real teachers to lower the class size to increase the quality of education for the students virtually always takes a back seat to the aforementioned.

Nearly 80 school districts last year sought operating money from local voters through new or renewed property tax levies. It was a mixed bag. Levies passed in more than 40 districts. Of the total levy questions asked of voters in those districts, more than half failed.

On Tuesday, more than 120 districts will ask voters for money for schools. With the economy still struggling, what will voters do?


About Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto

Paul Tosto writes the Big Story Blog for MPR News. He joined the newsroom in 2008 after more than 20 years reporting on education, politics and the economy for news wires and newspapers across the country.