Thursday, May 20, 2010

Brace for the Stop. I've been playing around with words lately (Who? Me?), trying to come up with some playful rhyming on Race to the Top. Like Lace for the Fop or Chase for the Slop. Mace for the Cop or Face for the Strop. I don't think Governor Pawlenty was playing with words when he informed the press that Minnesota was not going to apply for Phase 2 of the Race to the Top competition, throwing us all out of the vehicle as he slammed on the brakes.

He didn't mince words with his explanation of why the state won't be proceeding in Phase 2. He pretty much laid it at a pair of feet; one foot belonging to the Legislature and the other foot belonging to the teachers' union. From my perspective, I don't see how we could have been seriously considered in Phase 2, as we fell considerably short of qualifying in Round 1 and there were too many applicants between us and the likely cut-off point for available funding.

At any rate--and I don't say this glibly as in some "pox on both houses" snarkiness--it makes for great political theater. Recriminations, counter-recriminations, and so on and so on and so on. Let's see if this has any legs on the campaign trail, because that's where we'll hear about it next.

Here are the stories:

More Federal Legislation. No here is some federal legislation that everyone should like. Senate Bill 1652, chief-authored by Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) would phase in full-funding for special education. The bill was introduced last August, but with all of the talk regarding the stimulus package and Race to the Top, it hasn't garnered much attention. This is a bill that the entire education community across the nation should support and support vigorously.

In the next few months, especially as ESEA/IDEA reauthorizations get underway, it will be important for us to contact our congressional delegation and urge them to support Senate Bill 1652 and other measures that aim to increase federal special education funding.

Representative John Kline (R-Minnesota CD2) is also intimating that he will suggesting similar legislation as ranking minority member of the House Education and Labor Committee. Race to the Top is all well and good. It contains a lot of reforms that are sensible and likely to occur on a wide scale within the next decade. At the same time, it would be nice if the federal government were to fund its existing mandates before it chases off in an entirely new direction.

Here's hoping we can build a coalition that can provide school districts throughout the country with needed revenue. Every dollar that goes into special education creates a dollar's worth of space in a school district's general fund. Sounds like a good deal to me.

Nice Little Spot o' Ink for our Good Friend. Senator Kathy Saltzman scored a nice mention in Lori Sturdevant's column on Sunday. Sturdevant mentioned Senator Saltzman, along with Senators Stumpf and Bonoff, as three legislators who were coming forward with solid reform ideas. Congrats Kathy!

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