Minnesota school finance issues persist

  • Article by: Editorial Board , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 8, 2013 - 9:41 PM

State funds help, but voter support and tough choices are needed.

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comment229Jul. 9, 13 4:59 AM

So essentially you are saying that because we are expanding some programs and inflation is hitting the schools hard, that we need to eliminate steps and lane changes? In other words, you are going to ask staff to subsidize education instead of insisting mandated programs like special education be fully funded by politicians? We can pour billions into mandated programs that produce "modest" gains when we need to look at the real problems why some kids are not responsible; and that number is growing. Sorry, but we need public school reforms and I have not yet seen a group of politicians willing to take on the state fair advocates in favor of a new thinking that hasn't changed a great deal, since the turn of the century.... make that, the turn of the last century. I am sure if you look hard enough, you will find some think tank or institute that has spent millions doing a study on this, when a common sense approach, costs nothing.

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comment229Jul. 9, 13 5:03 AM

PS.... Yesterday you published an article about Texas Governor Perry and his veto of an education bill, that he seemed pleased to do. Then in the comment section, a citizen of Texas, pointed out where Texas ranks educationally in the USA. We had it worse. Not only did Pawlenty not deal with increased support for education, he took money away from the school districts that we are still trying to deal with.

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norselandcJul. 9, 13 5:35 AM

It is a good idea to reform school funding to lessen the need for local tax levies. It is a bad idea to reform the steps-and-lanes model for teacher salaries. I call this model our deferred compensation system for teachers. It keeps young teachers in the profession because they can foresee the possibility of earning a decent living after 10-15 years. I started at $24,000 a year. After 8 years of teaching and coaching (and graduate school) I finally earned $40k. Next year, in my 21st year of teaching, I will make just under $70k. I am not overpaid, nor will I ever attain raises to keep up with the cost of living increases over the past 20 years. But the notion of someday earning a living wage is what kept me in education during the lean years at the start of my career. The steps-and-lanes salary schedule used in most MN districts helps retain young teachers. If teachers could not look forward to decent compensation in the future, we might have more than 50% of teachers leaving the profession after 5 years, as current statistics indicate.

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stplooklistnJul. 9, 13 5:51 AM

Hard to believe that the fees district charged for all day kindergarten covered everything. So they probably will have some extra money. Pay raises seem out of line compared to private sector but pensions and health care weren't addressed and those would have been quite eye opening.

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stplooklistnJul. 9, 13 5:54 AM

And that average salary? Is that yearly? Then the truer number should have been the rate of pay. Now settle down all the teachers enjoying the summer off, but to talk apples to apples, really need to determine how many days are worked for that 54K+ salary.

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asdfasdfJul. 9, 13 6:35 AM

when times are good no one ever seems to complain about teachers raises not keeping up with state averages but when times are tough all of a sudden teachers need to share the pain? I've asked a few of my conservative friends who work in various corporations if they would accept tying teachers raises to the state average for those with equivilant levels of education (and they have to include the entire package I.e. stock options / retention bonuses / etc). all of them cring at the thought of granting parity. after 15 years of teaching my take home is less now than than it was 9 years ago because of the increased cost of health benefits. One last thing... does the author really think engineers / accountants / nurses / etc in SD or Iowa make the name as those in Minnesota? and Iowa still has the rule of 90, no teacher hired after 1989 has that in MN. And really, is SD's educational system our reach goal?

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sek2undrstndJul. 9, 13 8:36 AM

I agree with the Star Tribune. Public employees need to be treated just like private employees. To that end, we need to cut their wages/salaries, force them to work faster and longer for less pay, take away their retirement and health care benefits, and give all the money saved to the administrators and politicians who negotiate their contracts. Minnesota's K-12 educational system would mirror the financial problems of the University of Minnesota with an excess of overpaid administrators. The other problem; with that scenario, who in their right mind would want to teach.

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gandalf48Jul. 9, 13 9:29 AM

norselandc - [I will make just under $70k. I am not overpaid] *** Do you teach Calculus, Physics or computer science? Would you be willing to teach those subjects in your school? When we pay teachers that instruct elementary school students how to perform finger painting the same as the person teaching advanced computer programming then we offer zero incentive to teach a difficult subject. Perhaps the issue isn't that we need to have teachers start off making nothing...let's start teachers off at $40k/year and limit high end salaries to around $60/year...then offer bonuses for high performance and for teaching difficult subjects. Until we can fill all the high level math/science classes we should not be paying elementary school teachers $70k+ per year, with summers off, with a very nice pension.

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kamkamJul. 9, 13 9:39 AM

As said by a previous commenter, if you freeze or eliminate steps and lanes, you're hurting every teacher with less than 10 years experience. In my district, once you hit 11 years, your steps are frozen for at least 4 years. The only pay increase comes if you can move lanes. If you are at the far right (like I am), and at more than 11 years experience, you start losing money as health insurance, pension, and 457 contibutions (yes, we teachers contribute part of our salaries to those just like everybody else) increase. My salary is frozen for 2 more years (total of 4), then I'll get a slight bump at 18 years, then my salary is frozen for 6 years. When I get to 26 years, I'll get anothermbump, but my salary stays there for the REST of my teaching career, which for me is 22 years.

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kamkamJul. 9, 13 9:59 AM

Gandalf48, again you focus on the STEM subjects at the secondary level. I would suggest you look at the math standards for Kindergarten that are posted on the MDE website. Students need to "Read, write, and represent whole numbers up to at least 31." By 2nd grade in Language Arts, it is expected that students know and can write simple and compound sentences with accurate punctuation. Nobody in elementary is teaching fingerpainting.

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