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Gov. Dayton vetoes part of Higher Education Bill, eliminates Teach for America funding

Gov. Mark Dayton signed the higher education bill with $250 million in additional funding Friday but vetoed its $1.5 million appropriation for Teach for America.

In his veto letter (PDF), Dayton said he was axing the funding — $750,000 a year for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 — because he didn’t like the way Teach for America was selected for the grant.

He called the national organization, which recruits college graduates and professionals to teach in urban and rural districts, “a well-established, national program” and noted that it has assets of $350 million.

“With those financial resources available, it is not clear why a $1.5 million grant from the State of Minnesota is required to continue or expand the organization’s work here,” he said in the veto letter.

And he wrote:

My principal concern, however, is the way in which TFA was selected as the recipient of this grant. To my knowledge, no competitive grant program was established; no other applications were solicited; and no objective review was made by an independent panel of experts. Instead, the funds were inserted into the Senate’s Higher Education bill, directed to this organization, and retained in the Conference Committee’s report.

If the Legislature deems it is in our state’s best interest to encourage programs like TFA, a formal grant program should be established within the Minnesota Department of Education, and all qualifying organizations should be allowed to apply for funding. The legislation should establish the goals for such a program and the results by which its effectiveness will be evaluated. This type of competitive grants process would be a fairer way to distribute public funds.

The rest of the higher education bill includes $46 million more for the state grant program and freezes tuition for two years.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Alex Cecchini on 05/24/2013 - 09:33 pm.

    Just a comparison

    I’m not endorsing or arguing with Dayton’s decision, but if his position on TFA is a that it’s a “well-established, national program.. [with] assets of $350 million” and thus isn’t deserving of a grant, why are we sending $585 million to Rochester simply because Mayo (which has $6.9 billion in assets) wanted it? I recognize that the money for Rochester is not going to the non-profit hospital but for infrastructure improvements for the city, but they were ones Mayo specifically said they needed to grow there. We didn’t really question the validity of the needs (example, $90million is going towards free parking structures). Where is the scrutiny on something this big?

  2. Submitted by Annie Grandy on 05/25/2013 - 10:24 am.

    Congratulations!

    Congratulations and thank you, Governor Dayton, for taking what must have been a courageous step to veto the Teach for America funding. It may be a “well-established, national program” but that does not mean it does a better job than our trained and certified teachers or that there is any reason to subsidize a private organization with our tax dollars. Put that money into the public schools, especially early childhood and parenting programs, provide the trained and certified teachers with adequate resources and let private organizations compete based on their merits. The last time I checked, the University of Minnesota had three, count them, three programs for certifying graduates and/or experienced individual who found they wanted to teach. We don’t need to provide tax dollars for a private organization and its employees to become certified and trained.

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