The New Minnesota Miracle — hope for Minnesota public schools?By Klint Willert, Marshall superintendent
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As I begin, I want to offer everyone a hearty welcome back to the 2008-09 school year. We know that our community, and specifically the parents of Marshall and the surrounding region, place a tremendous responsibility in the hands of the school district employees each year by sending their children for a quality education.
This is a charge we take very seriously, for every child that comes to Marshall Public Schools. In fact, this is stated specifically in our mission statement, where we clarify that it is the mission of the Marshall Public Schools "to develop the potential of each child for success in a changing world." What a wonderful mission! It is something that speaks to each of us as we work together to provide our children a competitive edge for a quality life and work experience in this new global workplace and global economy.
As we think about achieving this mission, we know without adequate resources, this mission may not be realized as quickly or efficiently as we might desire. The latest discussion for funding our Minnesota schools makes this evident.
In 1971, the leadership of Minnesota set forth what was deemed a bold new direction for funding Minnesota Public Schools. This new vision for a bold new direction was named the "Minnesota Miracle."
This proposal ultimately became the basis for the current funding formula in Minnesota schools, and the State accepted the responsibility for the bulk of spending on K-12 education in the State.
This policy was grounded in a vision that every child in Minnesota was entitled to a quality public education, regardless of the property wealth of the zip code or area code in which they lived. The plan was implemented and managed to serve the State well, catapulting Minnesota to the top rankings in nearly every educational measure in our nation.
However, times change. As time passes, improvements to even the best policies are inevitable. No longer is it good enough to be competitive with just other States in the nation. Schools are facing greater challenges today in a more competitive environment.
The expectation is that every student is college-ready, not just the top tier student in each class, but all students. We know from our own experiences and from the vast amount of research that this expectation for college preparedness and readiness is essential if we, as a region, State, and Country are to remain competitive in the 21st Century.
This realization is giving birth to the "NEW Minnesota Miracle." This new "miracle" is designed to acknowledge the original vision of the original "miracle" with adjustments made that recognize our schools are preparing students for a world much different than the world of 1971.
The new "Miracle" proposal provides several new funding opportunities for schools and is based on research from the Governor's task force of 2005 and a funding research study of Minnesota school funding in 2006.
On Nov. 30, 2006, a coalition called PS Minnesota released a framework for the New Minnesota Miracle Funding Formula which provides the basis for the funding proposal.
This framework has been drafted into proposed legislation. The proposal addresses four elements: early learning opportunities, academic rigor, extra boosts in special programs funding such as special education, English Language Learner education and extended school year funding, and additional funding for infrastructure needs of schools.
On Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., the Marshall Public Schools will host State Rep. Mindy Greiling as she shares the proposal on the NEW Minnesota Miracle with our community and our region. The meeting will be in the District Office Professional Development room located in the Marshall Middle School.
This is a great opportunity for everyone to learn more about this proposal. I urge everyone to make plans to attend this forum to learn how this new "miracle" may impact the Marshall Public Schools and all school districts in southwestern Minnesota.
Considering that the last Minnesota Miracle was here for 37 years, this is a discussion that may have long lasting impacts and implications for our schools and communities.It may, truly, provide the hope that school districts are seeking for fair, adequate, and equitable funding to support Marshall Public Schools and all schools in Minnesota the necessary resources as we prepare our children for the new 21st Century economy and workplace.
Mindy Greiling homepage