Minnesota teachers union opposes constitutional amendment to address achievement gap

Mary Lynn Smith:

The largest organization representing Minnesota educators announced Wednesday that it opposes a plan to change the state Constitution in an effort to narrow the state’s persistent academic achievement gap.

Education Minnesota, the union representing 80,000 members who work in pre-K and K-12 schools and higher-education institutions, announced its opposition as the authors of the proposal launched a public effort to woo support for their “out-of-the-box” idea.

Alan Page, a former Minnesota Supreme Court justice, and Neel Kashkari, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, want to make quality public education a civil right for all children. To do that, they propose amending the Constitution’s current language on education, which has remained largely the same since it was written in 1857.

But the teachers union argues that the change would pave the way for taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools, which they’ve long opposed.

“The public schools paid for by the taxpayers should be available to every Minnesota family no matter where they are from, how they pray, whether their children have special needs, or who they love,” Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said in a written statement.

The proposal would remove the mandate for a uniform system of public education, creating even wider inequities between wealthy and poor districts, Specht wrote in a series of tweets.

Related: “An emphasis on adult employment“.