Do you want the good news or the bad news first?
Gov. Mark Dayton was sworn in and delivered his Inaugural Address on Monday, January 5, 2015.
Let’s start with the good news. In his four-page speech he referenced education 24 times.
Here are some excerpts worth repeating:
“The world today offers many good opportunities. Yet, while there are many roads to successful, fulfilling lives, there is, essentially, just one path. It is through education, training, and the development of marketable skills.”
He goes on to say:
“In Minnesota, we have a further advantage — one that has been our greatest asset for generations. Our citizens have long-known that a good education is the key to our success. Now, we need to realize that a good education is the key to our survival.
And that an excellent education unlocks the door to unprecedented opportunities.
Our future success — the health of our families, the vitality of our communities, and the prosperity of our state — will depend upon our making those excellent educations available to all Minnesotans. We’re part-way there.”
And he continues to comment on the difference between spending and investment. He says it better than we can:
“But are all of our students learning what they will need — to find good jobs and achieve success in the world that awaits them? If we’re going to improve people’s lives in our state, we have to improve their educations. We have to create a State of Educational Excellence.
How? By investing in it.
There’s a big difference between spending and investing. Spending is for now. People spend money to buy what they need or want right away.
Investing is for the future. People invest money now to produce future benefits and rewards.
Wise financial management requires understanding this difference. And striking a proper balance between them.”
If we needed to summarize, I think this statement says it best:
“I recommend that our top priority be to invest it in a better future — first and foremost, by investing it in Excellent Education. This means elevating our citizens’ educations from good to excellent.
And making that educational excellence available to everyone.”
You may ask, what could be bad about this speech? One comment was concerning.
“I don’t want to spend more education dollars on what is being done now. And I won’t spend more on doing less.”
We are concerned that this statement means funding on the basic formula will not be a priority or it will come with new mandates. In his speech, the governor did point out that more investment is needed because according to the most recent U.S. Census report, Minnesota presently ranks 24th among the 50 states in per-pupil elementary and secondary school spending.
We greatly appreciate the governor’s consistent focus on education. We do want to point out that the basic funding formula is the primary source of revenue for our school districts. This is the revenue used to purchase: regular classroom teachers’ salaries and benefits, buses and cost associated (drivers, gasoline), paraprofessionals’ salaries and benefits, learning materials, teacher training, unfunded special education services and teachers, co-curricular opportunities, accountability systems, education supplies, student programs and other requirements by the state.
These expenses are subject to inflation. If the state is going to adequately fund our schools, it is necessary to provide increases consummate to inflation.