September 3, 2010

September 3, 2010

Back-to-School Update – September 3, 2010

In This Issue
ACT Results
Back-to-School
Levies!
About Us

“These are all our children and we will profit by
or pay for whatever they become.”

— James Baldwin 

If this is your first update from Parents United, welcome!
If you have been with us over the last eight years — thank you.

Well done!

Have you heard about Minnesota’s ACT scores? Once again, Minnesota’s students are at the top with an average score of 22.6. As terrific as that is, a more important number is that 70% of our kids are taking this exam for college entrance! 70% – that is incredible. One could assume that as the number of kids who take an exam like this increases, the average score would drop (reflecting a broader spectrum of test-takers) – but that is not what is happening. Not only are we increasing the number of students looking to go to college, but if would appear that Minnesota schools are providing them with the skills necessary to get into choice colleges.

Does this mean our schools are “the best”? That all of our students are succeeding? Of course not. But it is great cause for celebration of our students and our public schools that serve them.

Back-to-School Basics

As the long days of this very, very hot summer fade into our memories, a new school year has us considering the possibilities that a new year brings. The smell of new books opened for the first time, a brand new teacher, new friendships, and new challenges – more homework, earlier bedtimes, wrapping paper sales, levy efforts…. Oops! But it is true that each year more is being asked of parents to help fund schools, and the state budget forecast should have us all concerned about the future. Several very “in the know” folks are telling school officials to prepare for a 10% cut in schools. Ten percent – that is on top of what has been cut over the last decade!

As our kids head back into classrooms, check out how those classrooms compare with last year. If you have an older child, are there advantages that child had that the younger sibling doesn’t? Maybe the opportunity to play a musical instrument or on a sports team, or a less crowded classroom, a visit to the science museum, or for an actual hands-on science experiment in their own classroom, or maybe even a math book for each child.

In November every Minnesota House member, every Senator and all constitutional officers stand for election. This election and the condition of our schools are connected: The next legislature and governor will decide the funding and policy mandates for our schools.

Also this year, all eight Congressional representatives are up for election. As recently as August 2010, Congress voted to send $167 million in federal aid to Minnesota schools. More and more decisions for our local schools are being made in these political arenas. It matters who represents us.

So as we stand at the bus stop or walk our children to school this year, let’s remember that great schools begin at the ballot box! Because Minnesota is the only state in the union without a State Board of Education or an elected Commissioner of Education, whomever we elect as our next Governor will have a DIRECT and PROFOUND impact on our local schools. Those who comprise the state legislature and the Congress all matter. Know who you are voting for. Make your vote count – our kids are counting on it!!!

In this issue

Levies, levies and more levies!

Seventy-five school districts will be going out for operating levies in November and a new Property Tax Report by MN2020 that examines the causes of the growth in property taxes since 2002 sheds light on what has been happening not only for schools but for all local government. The new report demonstrates that from 2002 to 2010, state revenue sharing with local government has fallen by $2.6 billion in constant 2010 dollars, compelling large property tax increases and significant reductions in real per capita and per pupil revenue of counties, cities, and school districts. “State aid reductions, not local spending increases, were the driving force behind property tax increases for each level of government since 2002.”—MN2020. Whether you are in a district running a levy or not, this information is significant.

About Parents United

Throughout the year, and into the legislative session, we will provide you:

  • Easily accessible information through our website – EventsNewsElection 2010 – Key ReportsFunding Reform – and much more!
  • Help navigating the legislative policy-making process.
  • Answers to your questions about policy and funding impact on your schools.
  • Connections to parents and community leaders across school districts, allowing you to learn from one another and replicate successful efforts to build confidence and cohesiveness.
  • Monitoring of K-12 legislative education committees.
  • Interactive, in-district presentations about public education issues.

Forward this email on to friends! Stay connected and help connect others to Parents United: Learn • Network • ACT.

In this issue

Mary Cecconi, Executive Director (mary@parentsunited.org)
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org

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