Education commissioner calls for compromise in K-12 billsby Tom Weber, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius said Friday that the Dayton administration and the Republican-controlled Legislature have some work ahead of them to reach some compromise on the education funding bills that passed at the Capitol this week.
The proposals would boost the basic per-pupil funding. But it freezes spending for special education and other funding that goes primarily to the Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth districts.
One example is aid that's distribute based on how concentrated poverty is in a school building. Cassellius says cutting that funding would hurt the most vulnerable students.
"It's really a realization of not understanding the difficult nature of concentrations of poverty, and the difficulty to meet the needs of all children and all the challenges that are there," she said.
Republican leaders said the current funding formula has been on "auto-pilot" and needs reforms to help close the achievement gap.
The bills also would freeze salaries for all school district employees and prohibit teachers from striking over wages.
But Cassellius said there are areas where common ground exists.
"There are a lot of seeds of things that I think we can agree on -- like innovation, reading and literacy, teacher evaluation, early learning," Cassellius said. "So there are elements, but it's just how do we get there?"