How do we know when enough is enough?
How Minnesota decides to answer that question and the measures we develop to monitor school performance in terms of tax dollars must be linked to our education reform efforts.
With the 2003 adoption of the academic standards, Minnesota took its first serious look at linking school funding to the cost of delivering the standards and school performance. This first step began with the July 2004 report Investing in our Future, which describes a Six-Point Plan for a 21st Century Minnesota School Funding System. The report further recommends the state’s role be limited to mission, means (money) and measurement. Unfortunately, the work stopped there.
The second step took place when the P.S. Minnesota Collaborative retained a national school finance consultant to carry forward the work of Governor Pawlenty’s school funding study. This work concluded with the release of two reports: Determining the Cost of Education in Minnesota: Continuing the Work of the Governor’s Education Funding Reform Task Force (Phase 1, December 2005), (Executive Summary) and Estimating the Cost of an Adequate Education in Minnesota (Phase 2, November 2006), (Executive Summary). Parents United was part of the P.S. Minnesota Collaborative, and the work of the collaborative resulted in the New Minnesota Miracle, legislation proposed in the 2008 session to modify the school finance system and create a new education funding framework. The legislation was reintroduced in 2009 and 2010 but never passed.
The third step took place when the 2011 Commissioner’s Education Finance Working Group released its final report and recommendations (Executive Summary) in May 2011. Parents United was pleased to be invited to be part of this working group. Among other recommendations, the final report calls on the state to provide a more stable source of funding through a general education levy and notes that, “A uniform general education levy was an integral part of Minnesota’s general education funding formula from its inception in the 1950s through 2002.”