Note - Re-printed with permission of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
The state must continue to put high priority on schools at every level in order to compete in the 21st Century.
We must work to increase parental involvement and make sure students are ready to learn through Head Start; Early Childhood Family Education; the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program and other early childhood programs. Such efforts give a big boost to at-risk children and save money by enabling schools to focus more on education and less on meeting the needs of disruptive children.
Academics should be given the kink of social and media support now reserved for student athletics.
New innovations to improve schools must be considered, such as the "Smarter Charter" proposal that Roseville and St. Paul put together several years ago.
New partnerships between schools and communities must be encouraged to maximize the use of our resources such as libraries and athletic programs. And the use technology must be available to broaden curriculum choices, especially in rural schools.
We must stabilize and improve the fairness of the statewide school funding formula. School districts have different expenses for transportation, faculty training and experience, and the like. A comprehensive analysis of each district's specific needs will ensure that reform of the funding system treats all districts fairly.
I addition, school districts must not be subjected to the instability caused by last-minute state cuts in education funding.