8:53 AM | Posted in
Steve Sarvi needs help in defeating John W. Kline and Big E over MNBlue has come up with a great way to begin getting that help. All across the Minnesota blogosphere (MNPublius, Minnesota Campaign Report, Blue Man, and Chris Truscott) there are articles being written about Sarvi and along with those articles are links to the ActBlue page that you can go to and donate.

I haven't spent a great deal of time covering Sarvi vs. Kline as I have my own right wing Congresswoman to deal with but on the occasions that I have seen him speak, Steve Sarvi has been impressive (check here and here). Also, in browsing around his website, I found his issues page on education to be one of the most spot on I have ever seen. Many candidates make a claim of supporting education and some even go so far as to explain that support. However, with Sarvi you get the sense that he truly understands the ins and outs of a system that has been used as a political football for far too long.

Check it out:

Education is the engine that drives our economy. I’m a product of Minnesota public schools, and I support local control of education. This issue comes home for me because my wife, Barb, helps teach children with special needs in our school district. We are devoted to quality public education for every child.

Much of “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB), the sweeping federal education mandate supported by President Bush and Congressman Kline, needs to be left behind. I dislike that my three children are being taught to pass tests their teachers didn't design and that aren't used to help them improve. All kids can learn to the best of their ability when they have an ample supply of professional educators who are recognized for their training and talent. But unfunded mandates from Washington divert the resources that teachers need, and local property taxpayers pay the price or force schools to operate from referendum to referendum.

Minnesota receives roughly $220 million per year to cover NCLB-related costs, but this doesn’t cover the increased costs of standardized testing in hundreds of school districts throughout the state. This underfunding puts many school districts in the red, forcing serious cuts in academic programs.

We Minnesotans love our schools, and we have a proud tradition of providing excellent public education to our youth. Yet, based on current trends, within 10 years, a majority of Minnesota schools could be penalized as “failing,” and many of them could be forced into “reconstitution” under the current law. Minnesotans will not stand for big government control of a prized state and local resource. Minnesota children deserve better. Congress is considering renewing NCLB. As part of that deliberation, I support:

  • More local authority. The federal government should let districts have more say about the tests used to measure students' progress so that those tests can be more helpful to teachers trying to make that progress happen. The federal government should also stop punishing schools based on the performance of special education students.
  • Adequate funding. The funding for carrying out NCLB has been irresponsibly low. The federal government mandated NCLB; they should have funded it. If they renew this mandate now, then this time they must find the money for it.
  • Rewards for innovation. Minnesota is responsible for some of the premiere education innovations of the past century, including post-secondary enrollment options (PSEO), open enrollment, and charter schools. Rather than merely punishing schools for “failing,” our government should reward schools for developing programs that enhance learning. Cookie-cutter approaches don’t work; President Bush and Congressman Kline must recognize that states and their school districts make the best decisions about their students' unique needs.
  • Stronger preparation for lifelong skill-building. According to the National Association of Elementary School Principals, our kids are second-to-none at the fourth grade level, but by eighth grade, they’ve fallen behind children in other countries. At this crucial point in their education, we must not let them down. Our kids don't need more tests, they need more time and attention to their individual needs and talents. At the same time, we can't take our eye off early childhood education, and we need to recognize that as the world changes, what we teach and when we teach it matters. For example, we need our kids to graduate from high school fluent in at least one language other than English, which means they need to start foreign language classes earlier than most schools' foreign language programs currently begin.
  • Promotion of better teaching. It doesn’t matter how many times you test a child on something they don’t know. Tests don’t teach. Schools should be places where teaching and learning thrive through appropriate teacher-to-student ratios, continuous teacher training on best practices and frequent peer review.
It’s time to change course in our schools. If the federal government wants a large role in public education, it must fund its mandates. Education policies must be as fair and intelligent as the accomplished graduates they are intended to produce.
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