Minnesotans for Better Education, Standards and Testing

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Let the nutballs howl, Minnesotans want to fund the schools

Doug Stone: Rallying round our hurting schools

March 2, 2005

I've always been proud to live in the land of 10,000 frozen lakes, but never more so than at Monday's education rally at the State Capitol. Along with thousands of other parents, teachers and students, my two grade-school children and I stood in the cold for more than an hour to tell the people who work in the Capitol to pay attention.

Education funding in Minnesota is at a tipping point. We need to make critical and real investments this legislative session to keep our educational programs from deteriorating. That is the message from the inner city of St. Paul to the suburbs of Minneapolis and beyond.

The first speaker Monday was the superintendent of the Edina schools. When the Edina schools are hurting, the rest of us are as well.

What the superintendent's presence suggested was a simple truth: The desire for an excellent public education for all of Minnesota's children is an issue that knows no partisan, geographic or ethnic boundaries. It is a truth that too many political figures have ignored. But they ignore it at their own peril.

These parents are concerned, angry and will not take "no" for an answer. They may disagree about presidential candidates or foreign policy, but they agree on what's best for their children. And if it takes additional revenues (taxes) to pay for their children's education, they are willing to pay their share.

I've sat on an elementary school site council (Webster Magnet) for four years. We are not cutting paper supplies and scissors any longer. Real people -- teachers, aides, and specialists -- are on the chopping block. That means bigger classes, fewer programs and less opportunity for our kids.

The other message that I hope the folks in the Capitol hear is the one from a minister at the rally who talked about how every religious faith depends on the idea of community, of helping each other, especially in times of need.

Public education is the prime civic example of working together for the benefit of all. That spirit was certainly present at the rally. I hope and pray it stays around for the rest of the legislative session. We are all in this together.

Doug Stone, of St. Paul, is director of college relations at Macalester College.