Category Archives: Education

As Our Students Go Back to School, Democrats Go Back to No Accountability

Democrats Adopt Caddyshack system of K-12 Education Measurement

There is a scene in the comedy “Caddyshack” where Judge Smails asks Ty Webb how he did on the golf course that day.

Judge Smails: “Ty, what’d ya shoot today?”
Ty: “Oh, I don’t keep score, judge.”
Judge Smails: “Oh, well, how do you measure yourself with other golfers?”
Ty: “By height.”

Governor Mark Dayton, the Democrats in the legislature and the wider education “community” have adopted the Caddyshack method of measurement for our students and teachers. But it’s not funny.

That’s because Dayton and the 2013 legislature undermined Minnesota’s school accountability system put in place ten years ago that allowed us for the first time to measure and compare real results in our K-12 system.

Republicans had instituted state standards in math, reading, and science. We required minimum levels of proficiency to graduate. We tied school funding to 3rd grade reading proficiency. We strengthened charter school accountability.

And against Democrat opposition, Republicans continue to propose greater family choices to get kids out of failing schools, teacher retention and promotion decisions based on performance not just seniority, and alternate paths to teacher licensure to put great teachers into failing schools.

In fact, it was this Republican accountability system that exposed Minnesota’s embarrassing achievement gap and started the conversation about how to address it.

Ten years later, under staunch Democrat leadership and total district spending of $23,000 per pupil, the 4-year graduation rate for students in Minneapolis is 50.1% and for black students is a dismal 36.8% according to the Minnesota Dept of Education.

But instead of strengthening accountability to fix this persistent problem, Democrats bowed to pressure from the teacher’s union (note: the teachers’ union gave $1.8 million to Democrats in the last election) and rolled back much of the measurement system that identified the achievement gap in the first place:
•We no longer require students to demonstrate proficiency on state reading, math, and writing tests in order to graduate from high school. Turns out too many students were failing and it was making the teachers and schools look bad so the DFL answer was to eliminate the testing.
•Teacher evaluations will no longer be based on student test scores. Governor Dayton thinks it’s not fair to hold teachers accountable for the performance of the children in their classrooms.

So while students go back to school this week, many schools around the country will be working to increase the rigor of their instruction and hold everyone accountable for results – real results based on data, but not under DFL-controlled one-party rule here in Minnesota.

Republicans believe that every child, from any background, can learn. New school models are proving it every day.

Meanwhile, rather than do the hard work of reforming our K-12 system so it serves the kids and not the adults, under the Dayton-Democrat-Union system we can envision students in Minnesota lining up along the white board by height so they can record how each child did in school.

Prepared and Paid for by the Republican Party of Minnesota
Keith Downey, Chair
Not Authorized By Any Candidate or Candidate’s Committee