Tuesday, February 26, 2008

There's Got to be a Morning After. Well, post-override Day 1 began with a very interesting hearing in the House Education Policy Committee. Most of the hearing time was dedicated to HF 3329 (Brynaert), which is the result of an interim working group dealing with revising the state report card and improving the measurement of student academic progress. At the left, we see Representative Brynaert (DFL-Mankato) with Dr. Geoff Maruyama, Associate Vice President for System Academic Administration in the College of Human Development and Education at the University of Minnesota, testifying before the committee.

There have been myriad problems with the school report card, especially with the star-rating system, which can produce very misleading results. The report card proposed by this legislation would rely more heavily on the measurement of student academic growth from year-to-year instead of achievement of proficiency standards.

Therein lies the rub. Jim Bartholomew, education analyst for the Minnesota Business Partnership, testified that growth models aren't necessarily a bad thing, but if they only measure "growth for growth sakes" without maintaining a proficiency standard, they are of limited use. This issue will continue to be discussed as the Legislature appears determined to put in place a system that provides a more realistic and valuable set of measurements of student achievement.

So stay tuned. The companion file for HF 3329 is SF 2882 authored by Senator Sandy Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake), which has yet to be heard in the Senate Education Committee. Rest assured, it will be soon.

Revanche! It didn't take long for the six Republicans who voted to override the Governor's veto of the transportation funding bill to feel the sting of the higher-ups in the caucus. All six were stripped of their leadership positions, mostly as the lead member of the minority caucus on various committees. This was as stern a punishment as I have witnessed in my 30-plus years of being a Capitol watcher and we'll have to see how this plays out.

StarTribune Link: http://www.startribune.com/politics/state/15998752.html

Governor's Reaction. Well, I can say I had a dream (more of a Paul Revere and the Raiders "I Had a Dream" than a Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream.") and I guess it must have been the anchovies. The Governor's press conference today pretty much dispelled my hopes that increased bipartisanship is in the offing. This is not good news in view of the fact that we'll probably be staring at a $1 billion plus revenue shortfall (with even larger revenue shortfalls projected for next biennium).

Minnesota Public Radio Link: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2008/02/26/seifert/

MN Post Link (put MN Post in your bookmarks):

Big Hearing Tomorrow. The highlight tomorrow with be in the Senate E-12 Education Budget Division when SF 3125 (Saxhaug) will be heard. SF 3125 proposes to increase the basic formula for the 2008-2009 school year by an additional 2% and fully fund the special education formula (which is funded at approximately 89% currently). They are not seeking testimony from individual school districts and instead will be seeking information from the 3 education-funding based organizations--SEE, AMSD, and MREA--and Parents United. In order to get solid information for my testimony, I had Deb Griffiths send out a call for information this morning and many of you have responded. An overwhelming number of SEE member districts--close to 90% at the latest count--will be either cutting or reducing their fund balance as they balance their budgets going into next year. Thanks to all of you for getting this information back to me so quickly.

For those of you wanting to attend the hearing, it will start at 8:30 in Room 112 of the State Capitol.

Trivia, Trivia, Trivia. I mentioned one song from my youth in this entry--"I Had a Dream" by Paul Revere and the Raiders--but the title of the first story is also a hit from 30+ years ago. NAME THAT ARTIST!

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