Monday, May 09, 2005

The ed lobby's borg claims another victim 

During the NARN show Saturday we had a phone call from Elizabeth Mische of Partnership for Choice in Education, who told us that the expansion of the education tax credit that had been proposed by Senator Julianne Ortman, SF 558, is now dead. It had been in the omnibus tax bill that was being squired around the Senate by Senator Larry Pogemiller, but was removed at the last minute in what Mische described to us as a logrolling maneuver to gain support from Senator Steve Kelley. Kelley, who has been chair of the Senate Education committee and was instrumental in the dismissal of Cheri Yecke and in bait-and-switch educational standards, has tussled with Pogemiller over this aspect of the bill, which in mid-April was attached into the tax bill.

Mische described the bill to me in a private email as follows:
This bill would have removed the regressive �family cap� that limited families earning less than $37,500 per year to claiming a refundable credit of $1,000 per child or a family limit of $2,000 for eligible expenditures � families could claim $1,000 for every child in their family � and most of the families claiming this credit are public school students; many of them are minority and immigrant families, and all of them earn less than $37,500. The bill would ALSO have allowed the 6,500-12,000 families at this income level who pay some tuition out of their own pocket at some private school to claim the money they have ALREADY SPENT for tuition as a credit.
See this analysis of the companion bill HF 1054 FMI.

Education Minnesota, however, not only wants SF 558 dead but wants to roll back the existing credit. (I'd give you a link to their page to see that, but of course it's password protected so you have no way to know what the Teacher Leviathan wants.) Note that this isn't one of those dreaded vouchers but a tax credit given to low income families who are engaged already in their children's education.

The stranglehold Education Minnesota has on the legislature is legendary. When I was there to testify on the social science standards, I researched the backgrounds of those who were in the room. A large number of legislators are teachers or former teachers -- and and not all are DFLers, mind you, though at least six current teachers or administrators of public schools are DFL legislators (Davnie, Eken, Dorn, Marquart, Pelowski and Sandra Petersen; please correct this list if I'm mistaken) and I think Mark Buesgens is the only Republican current teacher -- so that the union can have ready access to legislators to make their cases.

Killing SF 558 though, a bill that had DFL cosponsors, was apparently a Kelley affair alone. Mische noted to me that SF 558 was part of a tug-of-war between Pogemiller, who apparently wanted the bill to pass, and Kelley, who jealously guards his position as the gatekeeper for any bill affecting education. On top of this, Kelley has treated the Hann/Buesgens voucher plan supporters in a very rude manner, describing it as money laundering for religion. Kelley isn't a teacher, but he's dependent on them for his political future. Just like shooting the hostage last year, Kelley has taken and shot a hostage that would have benefited families with more than two children -- that is the cap currently on the number of children for whom the credit can be applied. This would include many poorer families, and many immigrant families who want to send their children to schools that share their cultural values. People who want to give their children the best chance to get ahead.

One guy, stopping these families from having more choice in education.

It's time to put this guy away.