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Session 2004

Session 2004: Education

At A Glance
Many lawmakers weren't sure precisely what they were voting on, but the House and Senate approved new academic requirements for science and social studies curriculums in the final minutes of the session. They were needed to replace the Profile of Learning graduation rules that were repealed last year. English and math requirements were approved last year. This year's agreements were tough to come by. The new standards are a blend of a fact-specific teaching approach favored by the Republican House and Gov. Tim Pawlenty and a more theme and context oriented approach favored by Senate Democrats.

Governor Pawlenty's budget increases the funding for public schools. It also proposes that teachers receive raises based on merit rather than seniority. Midmorning asks educators across the state about funding issues in their districts. ( 01/27/2005)
On college campuses across Minnesota, much of the political focus has been on the presidential election. That race may be overshadowing student awareness of another big contest this year -- every seat in the Minnesota House of Representatives is up for grabs. During a student-sponsored debate Tuesday night at the University of Minnesota, House leaders gave about 70 students a taste of the priorities for state Republicans and DFLers this election season. (10/13/2004)
Education funding is heating up as a campaign issue across Minnesota. Nearly one-fifth of the state's school districts will ask local voters this fall to provide additional tax support. And educators are pressuring state lawmakers, many of whom are up for re-election, to increase funding for public schools in the 2005 legislative session. Suburban business leaders and education officials met Wednesday at a Bloomington hotel to try to add some clarity to a complicated debate. (09/22/2004)
Minneapolis school district officials say the state Legislature's failure to pass an education finance bill this year has forced them to cut back a popular preschool program. (05/31/2004)
The chairs of the House and Senate Education Committees will be in the MPR studios to talk about legislative action on standards and testing, and about the upcoming appointment of a new education commissioner. ( 05/20/2004)
The price of a college education in Minnesota is going up again this fall. The University of Minnesota and the state's two- and four-year colleges are raising tuition by double digits. Despite consecutive years of big tuition hikes at the U and MnSCU, enrollments have grown to record levels at these institutions. Higher education officials say while most students are coming up with the extra cash for college, the trend toward higher tuition is not sustainable in the long run. (05/20/2004)
The search is on for a new state education commissioner to replace Cheri Pierson Yecke. The DFL-controlled Minnesota Senate put Yecke out of work during the closing hours of the legislative session by voting down her confirmation. The Republican governor, Tim Pawlenty, has promised he'll pick someone with the same strong views on school reform. That political shoving match is prompting some lawmakers to call for a change in the selection process. (05/18/2004)
The University of Minnesota plans to raise tuition and fees 14% by fall. The U's president talks about the challenge of keeping public education affordable. ( 05/18/2004)
The state's ex-education chief says she's convinced she lost her job because of partisan politics, not her performance. Cheri Pierson Yecke spoke to reporters about her 15 months in office Sunday afternoon at her home in Blaine. Earlier in the day, the Minnesota Senate voted against her confirmation during a chaotic close to the 2004 Legislative session. (05/16/2004)
The Minnesota Legislature adjourned for the year Sunday morning, ending a contentious session. Lawmakers failed to pass a budget-balancing plan, a capital investment bill or tougher penalties for sex offenders. In the final moments of the session, they passed new social studies and science standards that were agreed to early Sunday morning. They also dumped the state's education commissioner. (05/16/2004)
University of Minnesota undergraduates will likely pay 14 percent more for tuition next fall. University President Robert Bruininks proposed the increase and other budget measures to the Board of Regents Friday. Bruininks also announced a new scholarship program. Officials are calling it the largest effort in university history to raise scholarship support for students. (05/14/2004)
House and Senate negotiators will try to reach a compromise this week on one of the session's biggest education controversies -- social studies standards for Minnesota public schools. Conference committee members met for the first time Monday to begin hammering out the broader education policy bill that will include the standards. Their challenge is finding common ground between two dramatically different approaches to teaching civics, economics, geography and history. (05/11/2004)
It's now up to House and Senate negotiators to try to come up with a plan for teaching social studies in Minnesota public schools. The DFL-controlled Senate approved its set of social studies standards Thursday night as part of a larger education policy bill. The vote was 34-31. Supporters say the Senate's learning requirements are less prescriptive than the plan approved by the Republican House. (05/07/2004)
State Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke says she'll be back at work as usual on Wednesday, even though a key legislative panel wants her removed from the job she's held for over a year. Members of the DFL-controlled Senate Education Committee voted on a 6-to-4 party-line vote Tuesday to reject Yecke's confirmation as commissioner. The recommendation now goes to the full Senate. (04/28/2004)
Senate DFL leaders say last week's resignation of Public Safety Commissioner Rich Stanek will not affect the pending confirmations of other Pawlenty cabinet members. They say they will continue to scrutinize the governor's commissioners. Many DFL senators say they're particularly concerned about Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke, whose confirmation vote by the Senate Education Committee is scheduled for April 27. Republicans say DFLers are playing politics with qualified gubernatorial appointees. (04/20/2004)

Session 2004

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Audio Highlights

Audio How education fared in the session
Rep. Barb Sykora, chair of the House Education Policy Committee, and Sen. Steve Kelley, chair of the Senate Education Committee discuss education issues that were debated this session. (Midday - 5/20/04)
Audio Bruininks on the U of M
University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks discusses the U's tuition increase and the effect of the failure of the bonding bill on the U of M. (Midmorning - 5/18/04)
Audio Gov. Pawlenty's education agenda
The governor unveils proposals that would expand charter schools, restructure low performing school districts and encourage districts to share certain services.