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Education bill heads to negotiations

ST. PAUL -- An education bill containing fewer reforms than sought by the Pawlenty administration heads to House-Senate negotiators.

The House voted 86-47 about midnight Tuesday for its education bill that contains no budget cuts, a rarity as the state faces a nearly $3 billion deficit.

"Even in the toughest of economic times, our children have only one chance to get a good education," said Rep. Mindy Greiling, DFL-Roseville. "This bill prioritizes education by keeping cuts out of the classroom and implementing reforms that will help narrow the achievement gap so every Minnesota student will be prepared for success when they graduate from high school."

The bill falls short of what Gov. Tim Pawlenty had sought as his Education Department considered applying for federal Race to the Top funds that could bring in $147 million. He wanted a strong bill giving a new path to teaching degrees for Minnesotans in other careers, as well as evaluating teachers and principals based on student performance.

Race to the Top funds are based in a large part on education reforms.

An effort to insert Pawlenty's mid-career teacher licensing provision failed 68-65 after nearly two hours of debate.

Rep. Marsha Swails, DFL-Woodbury, said the failed proposal was "good, sound policy."

But Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Grove City, said that attracting new, young teachers is more important.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.