Mark Dayton outlined goals for the K-12 education system that he’ll try to implement if he’s elected governor in November, but didn’t talk about their cost or where he’ll find the money in a state budget deeply in the red.
Dayton, the DFL candidate, invited reporters to the Dayton’s Bluff Elementary School in St. Paul to release his plan. The school’s name was not a factor in locating the press conference, his handlers said. (But Republicans did come to try to call “Dayton’s Bluff.”) Dayton did note that the school has been cited for improving its results in recent years.
Dayton laid out broad plans for improving schools, saying these are his goals:
- Lower class sizes
- Affordable early childhood education
- All-day kindergarten, if parents want it
- Attract and retain best teachers
- Remove ineffective teachers and principals
- End four-day school weeks
- Reduce “high stakes testing” but test to identify students needing help
- Close the achievement gap
Dayton said he’d have to raise more state revenue to make these things happen, but said they would be a priority for him as governor. He laid out a budget-balancing plan this week that relies on casino revenue and taxing snow-birds for the time they live in Minnesota. He also wants to raise state income taxes for the wealthy.
He also said he wants to repay the $1.4 billion revenue shift from schools — used by the Legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty to balance this year’s budget — “if at all possible.”
More students coming into the state K-12 system over the next two years means that state funding has to be even higher than it is now, just to stay even, he said.
He said he’d rather not mandate to school districts that they cannot use the 4-day week to save costs; instead, he said he’d like to find new money for the schools so they don’t have to use such draconian cost-saving measures.