Dayton vetoes ‘teacher seniority’ bill

This veto required a bit more mulling than all the others. Jon Collins of MPR reports: “Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed a bill Thursday that would have forced school boards and teachers unions to consider teacher performance when making layoff decisions, rather than just seniority. The bill was described by supporters as a reform of the ‘last in, first out’ system that puts priority on preserving the jobs of senior teachers during layoffs. It passed the State Legislature along largely partisan lines. Dayton wrote in his veto letter Thursday that the bill was just one of many introduced this legislative session that was ‘anti-public schools, anti-public school teachers, or anti-collective bargaining rights.’ … Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher said in a statement that his organization approved of the veto. ‘Instead of tackling the serious challenges facing public education, the Republican majority’s top priority for our schools this session has been to further regulate teacher layoffs,’ Dooher said. ‘The priority should have been making layoffs unnecessary.’ “

At the Strib, Rachel Stassen-Berger writes: “The veto heightens the tension between the DFL governor and the Republican-dominated Legislature. … ‘The governor has dealt a major blow to teachers, schools, students and parents across the state,’ said the proposal’s chief sponsor, Rep. Branden Petersen, R-Andover. Petersen and other supporters met with Dayton repeatedly to urge him to sign the bill. Petersen issued what he called a ‘public apology’ for Dayton’s veto. ‘I am sorry that Governor Dayton chose to side with big-labor special interests and sell out our children’s futures,’ he said. … The measure was also one of the state Chamber of Commerce’s top education priorities. It spent more than $2 million lobbying last year.” What I wonder is whether Rep. Peterson will have to apologize to the ALEC?

Post-verdict, David Hanners at the PiPress writes of the Amy Senser trial’s last day: “As a first-time offender, she faces four years in prison, under state sentencing guidelines. Her attorney, Eric Nelson, promised an appeal and said he’ll ask a judge for a sentence shorter than what the guidelines call for. After the verdict, he said Senser ‘has struggled with her inability’ to talk to Phanthavong’s family about what she maintains was an unfortunate, unavoidable accident. … Even as the verdicts were read in court, they didn’t seem to sink in with the defendant. She stood next to Nelson and didn’t move as [Judge] Mabley set a sentencing date, thanked jurors and told the packed courtroom (whose doors were held open so those standing outside could hear the verdicts) that court was in recess. Senser, who worked in a chiropractic clinic, remained standing, still, for minutes. Finally, Brad Idelkope, Mabley’s law clerk and the one who had read the verdicts into the record, approached her to hand her a copy of the form reminding her when she has to come to court for sentencing.”

Setting up Monday’s big vote on the Vikings stadium, Stassen-Berger (again), writes about Speaker Kurt Zellers’ afternoon news conference: “During the quickly called, tense press conference, Zellers repeatedly addressed not just the crowd of reporters but the union building trades workers who packed the Capitol hearing room to hear the news. During the press conference, Zellers motioned to the construction workers and told them that tax provisions for the Mall of America in an unrelated proposal would likely create better jobs than a Vikings stadium would.  ‘It’s a lot longer project,’ he said as he looked directly at the workers. As he ended the press conference, he said, ‘I’m going to go over and say ‘Thank you.’ Zellers said that the stadium bill was DFL Gov. Mark Dayton’s ‘only priority’ this session, something the governor  denies, but the governor has been ‘disrespectful’ in his treatment of Republicans’ top priorities.” By that, I assume he means gay marriage and Voter ID, right?

Cory Merrifield of has a commentary on our stadium ordeal … in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. It’s about what you’d expect. But this part is amusing: “Minnesota won’t host another Super Bowl, Final Four or any other national event without a new stadium. You saw the roof collapse on the Metrodome a year ago. Would you step foot in the building? I sell professional services for one of the largest IT consulting firms in the world. When I speak to people outside Minnesota, they think of three things: The Mall of America, cold weather and the Vikings. Without the Vikings, we are just a cold state with a big mall. Never mind that Minnesota is home to more Fortune 500 companies per capita than any other state. Nowhere in our Constitution is it written that we are entitled to an NFL team. I won’t try to justify the economics of the NFL. They are predatory and absurd. It’s a limited market and we have to pay for a team if we want one.

Stribber Lori Sturdevant writes about the GOP’s late 11th-hour switcheroo(s): “[Gov. Dayton’s] calmer tone Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with the GOP proponents of using general obligation bonds to pay for a stadium, suggested that he no longer doubted the sincerity of the GOP effort.  After Thursday’s quick GOP retreat from their idea, no one should. If adding the stadium to the bonding bill had been a political stunt, as many Capitol wags first surmised, the resistance the idea encountered from state bonding authorities would not have deterred them. The majority leaders would have pressed on. … House Majority Leader Matt Dean, an architect by profession and the ‘architect’ of the withdrawn bonding idea, said he spent several hours with state, Minneapolis and Vikings officials Wednesday examining the narrow question: Would general obligation bonding work? State officials’ analysis convinced him that the rules governing those bonds, which are backed by state income and sales taxes, would preclude their use for this project, he said. Dean’s chastened tone and the somber faces of GOP leaders as they briefed Capitol reporters Thursday foreshadowed a tense few days ahead for state lawmakers.”

Getting called one of the best — even of the 120 best — by The Aspen Institute counts for something. Scott Tedrick at the Granite Falls Advocate Tribune says: “Minnesota West Community and Technical College has been named one of the top 120 commmunity colleges in America by the Aspen Institute of Washington, D.C. The college is now eligible for the 2013 $1 million Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The Aspen Institute used a quantitative formula that assesses performance and improvement in four areas to pare the roughly 1,200 technical colleges in the U.S. to the 10 percent eligible for the prize. According to a press release, those areas include: graduation rates, degrees awarded, student retention rates, and equity in student outcomes.”

The ferocity of feelings for and against Scott Walker in Wisconsin is a remarkable thing to behold. Craig Gilbert at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel writes: “To Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents, recent polls tell an unflattering tale about the Republican incumbent — that no matter how many millions he spends, his numbers don’t get any better. True enough. As survey after survey shows, public opinion about Walker is almost freakishly fixed in place. But saying this is ‘bad news’ for the governor is leaving out half the story. His opposition and support are equally unwavering. They are two sides of a coin. They fuel each other in a feedback loop of love, hate, anger and zeal. … More than most politicians, Walker’s political strengths are inseparable from his political weaknesses. The same policy agenda that inflamed opponents and led to the third gubernatorial recall election in US history has given Walker a national following in his party that could sustain him in politics for years to come. Of the nearly $11 million Walker spent between Jan. 18 and April 23, a staggering sum – almost $5 million — was spent on mailings, much of it on fundraising appeals. He spent more on mail than he did on TV. Walker will come out of the recall fight with a national donor list like that of few governors, and no Wisconsin Republican before him.

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Comments (11)

  1. Submitted by Walt Cygan on 05/04/2012 - 06:08 am.


    On the contrary, the Governor has given the GOP priorities exactly the respect that they deserve.

  2. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/04/2012 - 08:36 am.

    Welcome to the real world GOP

    It’s clear the GOP has no capacity or intent deploy any strategy other than bullying with a dictatorial mentality. By definition this an inherently disrespectful position. Last year, they were able to shut the government down because the Governor has to sign a budget bill eventually. This year, the Governor doesn’t technically have to sign anything and the GOP is finding out what it’s like to pass bill after bill that’s dead on arrival. Our government wasn’t designed to be run by bully’s so this is what you get when you have a legislature that seeks to dictate to rather than work with a Governor. You get nothing.

  3. Submitted by Logan Foreman on 05/04/2012 - 09:22 am.

    As Zellers should recall

    Pawlenty was far more “disrespectful in his treatment” of the DFL’s top priorities over 8 years. I’m sure Zellers opposed those efforts. LOL. What he should be worried about is his real lack of leadership skills; it appears that he is fourth in command rather than first in command.

  4. Submitted by Lauren Maker on 05/04/2012 - 10:08 am.

    teacher bill veto

    Some of the money spent to push this bill seems to have been poured down the rat hole. I received a phone call YESTERDAY from a group called Students First, urging me to contact my legislators and the governor to support this bill. It’s suppose to improve our students testing rates in math and science, or so I was told when I said this only opens the door for teachers to get retaliation for their advocacy for students and teachers. They were either using a very poor script or they had little knowledge of the Minnesota legislative process,

    Seems strange that the paid hacks didn’t know it was already on the governor’s desk.

    • Submitted by Pete Barrett on 05/04/2012 - 12:30 pm.

      Un-paid Hacks

      I received the same call last evening. I asked the caller if she was paid or a volunteer and she told me she was a volunteer.

  5. Submitted by Lora Jones on 05/04/2012 - 12:56 pm.

    It not only opens the door for retaliation

    it opens the door wide for age discrimination and cutting costs by jettisoning both experience and advanced degrees. Just another one of the GOPs race-to-the-bottom strategies.

  6. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 05/04/2012 - 01:55 pm.

    Priorities speak volumes about who cares for kids

    We don;t fully fund kindergarten in this state. We don’t fund pre-k at all. If a poor kid cannot read by 3rd grade, they are 13 times more likely to drop out of school. Knowing this, and our priority is the human resources office instead of fully funding kindergarten and targeted funding of pre-k?

    When ALEC and Student;s First start fighting as hard for supporting five year olds as they fight for taking away the rights of 50 year olds, maybe I’ll believe they care about kids.

  7. Submitted by Alec Timmerman on 05/04/2012 - 02:01 pm.

    In addition…..

    Dayton is siding with research on what is good for kids.

    The proposed law would have used the new evaluation system just passed last year to make high stakes hiring and firing decisions. That evaluation system is required to be dependent on at least 35% student test scores.

    The National Academy of Research, the RAND study group, and the Educational Testing Service all have extensive research saying that is a bad idea at this time.

    So, Dayton was siding research. Something that I know is anathema to Republicans and organizations like ALEC.

  8. Submitted by Jonathan Carter on 05/04/2012 - 02:43 pm.

    Poof goes the stadium or anything else Dayton wants.

    Love Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher – ‘Instead of tackling the serious challenges facing public education, the Republican majority’s top priority for our schools this session has been to further regulate teacher layoffs,’ Dooher said. ‘The priority should have been making layoffs unnecessary.’ ”

    How then do you get rid of the incompetent?

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/04/2012 - 05:44 pm.

      Dismissal for cause v.s. cutting expenses

      Layoffs are done during tough economic times as a way of cutting expenses.

      Incompetent teachers can be dismissed for cause at any time regardless of the current state of the economy.

      The problem is, people keep confusing “dismissal for cause” with “economically induced layoffs”, and as usual, those who demonize teachers continue to utilize this confusion as often as possible.

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