To the editor,
Education is one of the most critical issues for government in this day and age. We live in a progressively more technologically and scientifically sophisticated age. Each day we make new discoveries and in so doing, push back the curtain of mystery that shrouds the natural world. We recognize almost as an instinct, the importance of education in giving our children, state and nation a competitive advantage in the world. Very few parents would ever suggest that education is optional or unimportant in today's world.
Unfortunately, it is precisely the fact that education is so critical to success in our modern age that makes it such an attractive political issue. Who among us would look at our children and say to them that "your education isn't worth an increase in our property or income taxes"? What is a few hundred dollars when any parent would lay down their very lives in order to guarantee a bright and prosperous future? Yet therein lies the trap. The education unions and DFL have figured this out. As a result, in what is an annual tradition in Minnesota, Education Minnesota and the DFL go to the people and make the case that unless you accept an increase in spending and by extension increase in taxation, then our children will not get what they need. They tie the concept of per pupil spending to academic outcome. They use extortion to compel parents to begrudgingly hand over more of their income by promising nightmarish scenarios. They make the case that if you don't pay that schools will close, teachers furloughed and programs cut. They imply that unless we spend more money that our children will become dumber, not graduate high school or go to college or lead productive lives.
The problem with this tactic is that the evidence does not support its conclusions. If we look at the last 2-3 years, we do not see across the board drops in testing scores that one might expect to see if per pupil spending was directly proportional to academic performance. So the question needs to be -- why not? The answer is that the increases in funding are not exclusively for new texts or materials, but the majority of these increases in spending are for benefits and salary of the teachers. This is not to say that teachers shouldn't be paid well with good benefits. Quite the contrary, they should have all of those things and our respect and gratitude. However, if the purpose of these levies and taxes are to support salary and benefits, then let us be honest about that and not use the children as means to an end.
I believe that of the two candidates being considered in District 37B this term, Judy Lindsay has the experience and knowledge of the inner workings of education in our district to ensure that teachers are treated fairly but that our children also get the education they need. I am confident that with her academic training in education and her experience in the ISD 196 Board that she will see through the DFL's smoke and mirrors on this issue and show genuine leadership, fiscal responsibility and fairness as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives.