MN-02: Kline Increases Charter School Funding in face of $2.4 Billion Education Funding Cut

Although John Kline (R-MN-02) has still not completed the FY2011 budget, Congress is moving forward with planning for FY2012. The Republican-managed House Appropriations Committee is recommending a cut of $2.4 Billion in Education from current levels … and the cuts target school programs in the Second District (Le Center, New Prague, Cleveland … and other Minnesota schools in Rochester, St. Peter, Hopkins, Kelliher, Red Lake, and Zumbrota.)

Let‘s recap, Representative Kline chastised the Democrat-managed House for “dereliction of duty” (his words) for failure to pass a budget in a timely manner, and thus far as Chairman of the House Education Committee has led the passage of funding for private charter schools in the federal Washington DC school district and has moved forward legislation that increases funding for charter schools nationwide from the current funding level of $256 million in FY2011 to $300 million starting in FY2012 … but has not completed appropriations for FY2011 (which started on Saturday.)

Balancing the budget means that while spending more for charter schools means that cuts must be made elsewhere … yep, that means Minnesota.

The largest line-item reduction is to the Pell Grant program … not surprisingly since this has been a frequent target and one that Chairman Kline fears Pell Grants are “on the path to bankruptcy,” and saying that “we need to make tough choices now to ensure this important program remains available for students who need it most.”
FYI : Pell provides need-based grants to low-income undergraduates and is expected to serve 9.6 million students next year. According to the U.S. Department of Education, Pell grants constituted approximately 22% of all federally supported aid in 2009 that benefit postsecondary education students at all levels.
In 2008 and 2009, over 96,000 Minnesotans received Pell Grants.

Besides Pell Grants, monies will be saved by the elimination of the Investing In Innovation Fund, known as i3, which is an Obama Administration program designed to induce districts and nonprofit groups to develop or scale up new approaches to boosting student achievement.
The U.S. Department of Education held a competition for the i3 funds and just shy of 1,700 districts and nonprofit groups competed for the awards.

Some pretty interesting programs were funded, such as School of One, a two-year-old program run by New York City’s Department of Education. Launched during a summer pilot and adopted by several middle schools last year, School of One features computer-generated personal learning plans for each student in a class, tailored to the student’s skills and weaknesses and accompanied by tasks to address them.
Sorta along the same innovative teaching going on with the fifth graders at Stonebridge Elementary in Stillwater or Byron High School … but the i3 funding elimination would take a direct hit on a program targeted for New Ulm, Duluth, Onamia, as well as the other Minnesota cities listed above.

“A Chance To Grow” (ACTG), a Minneapolis-based program, has applied for a Developmental Grant as a SMART initiative. SMART has demonstrated that it can produce reading gains and close achievement gaps between students of different income and racial groups. In i3, ACTG will expand SMART to 30 schools in MN, SD, and WI. 7,500 to 10,000 students will be involved over a period of five years at a cost of $4,993,905 … roughly no more than $666 per student.

Although it would be easy to take a “we need this program for Minnesota” approach, the “A Chance To Grow” program is just an illustration of the types of programs funded via i3 applications … that are vetted, ranked and evaluated before being awarded.

The concern should be that as Minnesotans are learning that 1,056 of Minnesota’s 2,255 schools were not on track to meet Adequate Yearly Progress, is now the time to ignore programs like “A Chance To Grow” ?

It’s greatly disappointing that Minnesota has the Chairman of the Education Committee that seems to blind to our current, and future, needs.

Tags: , ,