When 5500 people gathered on the state Capitol steps yesterday evening for one reason, it didn't happen by accident. The Alliance for Student Achievement is an alliance of Minnesota's largest education associations, including the Education Minnesota teachers' union, the Minnesota Parent Teacher Association, the Minnesota School Boards Association, and rural, urban, and administrator associations. With all of this member-fueled firepower and an after-school and after-work rally time, bus rides to the Capitol, flyers going home in backpacks, e-mail alerts, letters to the editor, and nothing on TV, I'm surprised that the crowd wasn't bigger.
While legislators certainly got the message that all of these education associations want more money for their members, what they never explain is where all of this money is supposed to come from. The answer on the placards we saw on the opening day of session, "TAX THE RICH," works for the far left socialist crowd that wants to turn Minnesota into a cold Havana; but seriously folks, the improving economic forecast shows that "no new taxes" is working, gosh darn it!
I'm more of a policy guy than a finance guy, but I would rather see more attention paid to lifting levy caps, repealing mandates that are underfunded or unfunded (they steal from a school's general fund), giving more scrutiny to superintendent compensation and severance packages, transferring expensive sports programs to park and rec departments, and kicking the federal government out of our schools (the fed funds 8% of state education budgets in exchange for 800 tons of mandates and stifling bureaucracy).
Midwest Jay has more to say on this topic at Anti-Strib (a MOB blog). His writing is a little more, well, "blunt" than mine, but he and his co-blogger Tracy provide some great antidotes to the latest alarming "Strangling the schools" OpEx cover in last Sunday's Strib.
Speaking of blunt, The Education Truth Squad (not a MOB blog, we don't need no stinkin' MOB) has some harsh words for the aforementioned Alliance.