here for PDF format
for participants' responses to this interview.
of Meeting with State Rep. Mindy Greiling
8301 Creekside Circle,
Bloomington, MN 55437
Friday, April 24,
speaker: State Rep. Mindy Greiling,
Chair, House K-12 Education Finance Division
Johnson, chair; David Broden, Paul Gilje, Jim Hetland, Dan Loritz, Jim
Olson (by phone), and Wayne Popham (by phone)
Context of the meeting--The
Civic Caucus has held several meetings on issues of change in education.
Today we're receiving an update on legislation from the House chief author
of the K-12 funding bill.
Welcome and introduction--Verne
and Paul welcomed and introduced State Rep.
Mindy Greiling, Roseville, chair, House K-12 Education Finance
Division. Before being elected to the Legislature, Greiling, now in her
8th two-year term, served in many local occupational and volunteer
capacities, including serving as an elementary teacher in the St. Paul
Public Schools, girl scout leader, PTA president, Roseville School Board
member and chair; and president, Roseville League of Women Voters. She
has a B.A. degree in education from Gustavus Adolphus College, and an M.A.
in education from the University of Minnesota.
Comments and discussion--During
Greiling's comments and in discussion with the Civic Caucus the following
points were raised:
1. Re-establish the State Planning Agency and
the State Board of Education--Responding to a question about
the Civic Caucus recommendations on transportation leadership, Greiling
said she has been a fan of long range planning and was disappointed when
the State Planning Agency and the State Board of Education were
abolished. The Legislative Auditor has become increasingly important in
providing some information with value similar to what had been generated
by the State Planning Agency.
she hasn't seen much interest by the Governor's office in promoting
planning and process.
2. People want their buses--Responding
to another question about transportation, Greiling said that people in the
Twin Cities area are more interested in good bus service than in
more highway lanes.
She hears more complains about areas where bus service isn't available
than any other
3. Support for district-created site-governed
schools--The omnibus education bill being passed by the House
includes enabling legislation that allows individual school districts to
set up their own site-governed schools. A school board, if it so chooses,
could establish charter-type schools within its own structure. In effect,
a school district could compete with charter schools that are set up
without school district approval. This legislation is being backed by
4. Importance of innovation revenue--Greiling
said she is very optimistic about one section of the House bill, which she
called the "centerpiece", that provides $375 per pupil in innovation
revenue that is tied to student achievement. The bill requires a school
district to use at least 5 percent of its new basic revenue for innovative
revenue programs including peer-reviewed, research-based measures to
improve academic performance. It requires a district that is
demonstrating low student growth to submit a plan to the commissioner of
education describing how it intends to use its innovation revenue.
5. Establishing a framework for a new
"Minnesota Miracle"--While the bill essentially freezes basic
revenue for each school district, in light of current economic realities,
it includes language that is intended to implement in 2014, a significant
change in school aids to resemble improvements that occurred when the 1971
Legislature largely made it possible for every school district to receive
adequate funding based on equal local effort. Among new
changes will be providing the same funding for all students, K-12.
6. Whether school aids and local government
aids should be settled in the same conference committee--It was
noted that a frequently overlooked aspect of the 1971 legislation is that
school aids and local government aids (LGA) were settled in the same
conference committee. That approach enabled legislators to make finer
adjustments than are possible when school aids and LGA are settled
separately. Such an approach doesn't seem to have been followed since
1971. Greiling replied that she represents cities that don't receive LGA.
She would like very much if trade-offs could be made between school aid
7. Question of constitutional amendment for education
Civic Caucus member asked whether--in light of a stand-off between the
Legislature and Governor on tax increases--the Legislature might just
by-pass the Governor and submit a constitutional amendment to the voters
on a tax increase for education. It was noted that voters in 2008
approved a legislatively-submitted amendment that increased revenue for
water, outdoors, and the arts. Greiling said she is opposed to such an
approach. Minnesota doesn't want to become like California where
something like 3/4 of the state's budget is controlled by voter
referendums. She senses no movement whatsoever for a constitutional
amendment for schools. The people want the Governor and Legislature to
reach a compromise. Moreover, the Legislature doesn't consider such
amendments until the second year of the biennium.
8. Support for customized learning--Responding
to a question about greater use of computers to provide customized
learning, Greiling said she has read Clayton Christensen's book
Disrupting Class. A modest provision to support on-line learning is
included in the House bill, she said. She senses more support for
on-line that provide essential supplements for some students, instead of
replacing teachers with on-line learning.
9. Possibilities for changes in elections
structure--Greiling said she favors assigning the
responsibility for legislative redistricting to a non-partisan
commission. She supports the precinct caucus system, because it still
offers a way for candidates with limited funds to receive party
endorsement. She favors a presidential preference primary being conducted
separate from precinct caucus meetings. She favors advancing the state
primary election to a date earlier than September.
10. Adjusting to changes in media coverage--Fewer
journalists are covering the Legislature now, Greiling said. Also,
newspaper editorial boards don't seem to be pressuring the Legislature to
the degree that was present in the past. We're suffering in general from
a lack of good civic discussion, she said. Greiling said her daughter is
employed by Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C., which seems to be a rare
model for better coverage today.
11. Possible changes in schools of education--It
was noted that some previous Civic Caucus interviews have included
questions about whether schools of education are adequately preparing
teachers for emerging roles. Greiling said she'd be happy to have such
issues part of the discussion.
behalf of the Civic Caucus, Verne thanked Greiling for meeting with us