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LETTER: Using common sense to reform education

As a taxpayer, I am concerned about challenges in the education system such as the achievement gap: students not graduating nor performing at levels that are accepted standards. We spend $16 billion, 41 percent of the Minnesota general fund, on education every year, in addition to school district taxes, and it is extremely disconcerting that the problem continues to get worse.

For instance, the inner city schools spend between $19,000 and $21,000 per student each year with dismal results. Yet the DFL, Governor and our Sen Kent think that adding early childhood education at exorbitant cost is the solution. It's important for taxpayers to support programs that work and are proven to have the expected results, but we have had Headstart for over 40 years with no discernible benefit, so why should anyone think more money put into early childhood education is going to be any better?

Early childhood programs are not going to help students who are flunking out of school now. Yet we don't hear Sen. Kent or Rep. Ward voicing support for creative proposals like Sen. Bonoff's bill to allow school districts to consider teacher performance when they make their staffing decisions, or any bills to free school districts of burdensome mandates. These proposals address the needs of students struggling today.

Instead, the DFL just wants to throw more money at the problem even though we have little progress to show for it. If Sen. Kent truly wants to fix education, she should be willing to abandon the failed status quo and embrace new ideas. I hope she does, because our children deserve the best education possible.

Paul Hyland