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House education bill faces Dayton opposition

Rep. Pat Garofalo of Farmington ponders an email Tuesday. With him are Reps. John Kriesel of Cottage Grove, left, and Denny McNamara of Hastings. Photo by Don Davis/State Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL -- Minnesota representatives voted early today to make dramatic education changes after a six-hour debate.

The governor does not like many of the bill's provisions.

The House passed the Republican-proposed changes 68-59 in a bill that replaces teacher tenure with basing pay on an evaluation that includes student performance. Teachers traditionally are paid based on their years of service, something Republicans who control the House and Senate strongly oppose.

Also in the bill is the elimination of state aid aimed at promoting integration, mostly in Minneapolis and St. Paul schools with large minority populations.

Overall, classroom funding would increase slightly, but the state Education Department would be trimmed.

Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton is not expected to sign a measure that looks like the one representatives passed at 2:45 a.m. He said that he opposes provisions such as the integration aid elimination. He also opposes items in the bill that would cap special education program spending.

A letter Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius wrote to Education Finance Chairman Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, called for a "serious dialogue" about how to best serve Minnesota students, teachers and schools. But she said she is disappointed with many parts of Garofalo's bill.

She said the House bill "contains sweeping provisions inherently harmful to at-risk students."

Cassellius said she thinks there remains an opportunity to compromise.

Garofalo said that reforms in his bill are needed to modernize the state school system.

Don Davis reports for Forum Communications Co.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.