Former Senator Mark Dayton, a DFL candidate for governor, says he wants Gov. Pawlenty to reapply for a key federal education grant.
Dayton is also calling on the Republican governor to stop blaming others for the failure of state's initial application. Pawlenty wants the legislature to pass a package of school reforms, including alternative teacher licensing, before making a second application for money under the federal "Race to the Top" initiative. He's often said the state teachers union is the main hurdle to those reforms. During a Capitol news conference today, Dayton said Pawlenty should work with teachers, not against them.
"Unfortunately, Gov. Pawlenty shows every sign that he's more interested in political blame games and wooing support for his presidential aspirations from anti-public school right-wing zealots than he is with improving the quality of Minnesota's public education," Dayton said. "That must end."
Dayton said his position was not aimed at winning favor with the teachers union. Education Minnesota has not yet endorsed a candidate for governor.
Gov. Pawlenty is scheduled to meet this afternoon with legislative leaders to discuss Race to the Top and other issues.
Pawlenty spokesman Brian McClung issued the following statement in response to Dayton:
Apparently Mark Dayton didn't read the actual Race to the Top reviews. They point out that important reforms, including alternative teacher licensing and improved teacher preparation, would have improved our application. These and other key reforms have been frequently proposed by Governor Pawlenty but have been stopped by the teachers union and their DFL allies every time. Minnesota finished 20th in the first round. It would be pointless to resubmit our application without first passing needed education reforms. This issue is not a Republican governor versus the teachers union issue. The Race to the Top criteria has been established by the Obama Administration and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. It's time for DFLers to stop making excuses and start passing these important, widely-supported bipartisan education reforms.
I would think that someone who has been in politics as long as Mark Dayton could find a better subject for a speech. All we ever hear from him anymore are blasts of Pawlenty. Voters want to know what Mr. Dayton is going to do about all the urgent issues that face Minnesota. How will he fix the budget (besides taxing the rich, which everyone knows won't be enough). How will he create jobs for all the unemployed and the graduating students? How will he create a new green energy econmy? How will he save family farms? Pawlenty is almost gone from Minnesota. Why concentrate on him? Why engage in a negative campaign? Most voters are so sick of it. Mark Dayton is of the old way of doing politics. Minnesota wants a new way.