Education Reform

Minnesota: The Money Behind the Effort to Rewrite the State Constitution’s Education Clause

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In late April, I posted an article by Minnesota blogger and public school advocate Rob Levine about a sneaky effort by elites in the state to rewrite the state constitutional clause on education to protect and encourage segregated charter schools.

This new post digs deeper into the machinations and motivations behind the demand to revise the state constitution.

The campaign is led by the president of the local Federal Reserve Bank but named “the Page Amendment” for a popular local judge.

Blogger Steve Timmer explains that the money and muscle for “the Page Amendment” comes from the president of the local Federal Reserve Bank and the Minneapolis Foundation.

“Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari and former Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Alan Page penned an op-ed in the Star Tribune that ran in the paper edition on May 4, 2021. They made a case for the “Page Amendment” to amend, well gut, really, what’s known as the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Article XIII, Section 1. It provides:

“UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thoroughand efficient system of public schools throughout the state. [emphasis added]”

“They complain that the provision is old and needs to be replaced. Of course, the Education Clause is about the same age as most of the rest of the Minnesota Constitution, including the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses. But they want to replace it with this:”

“EQUAL RIGHT TO QUALITY PUBLIC EDUCATION. All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform [emphasis added] achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right.”

So this change in the state constitution’s language is intended to relieve the state of its obligation to provide “a general and uniform” system of schools, thus allowing the untrammeled growth of charter schools, including the highly segregated charters for which Minneapolis is known.

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