Monday, April 04, 2005

When people sometimes disagree but have the same goal . . .

Posted by Craig Westover | 3:08 PM |  

The following note is from an EdWatch update. It's right on the money.

I talked with Rep. Buesgens over the weekend. He feels it is important to keep the voucher bill alive, moving through the committee process. However, as a chief author of the bill, he stressed that any amendment that seeks to impose excessive regulation on private schools is unacceptable.

There remains serveral future opportunities to restructure the bill and/or remove the amendment. Look for an amendment that would sunset any "strings" attached to the existing bill, among others.

I agree with EdWatch that as the bill currently reads, it is unaccptable. However, I'll wait until the final amended bill to pass judgment.

Kudos to EdWatch for being a bulldog on this critical point.

4. Voucher bill SF 736 / HF 697A bill that would provide "access grants" to the families of low income students in the Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts toward tuition to private schools was sandbagged last week by opponents who want non-public schools to look just like the public schools. Denise Dittrich (DFL - Champlin) introduced an amendment that passed by one vote to subject private schools who accept voucher students to be subject to the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) of No Child Left Behind, thus essentially bringing private schools under the authority of federal law. All DFL committee members voted to add strings on private schools, joined by Rep. Wardlow (R - Eagan). All other Republicans on the committee opposed it.

We are grateful to Rep. Mark Buesgens, the House author, who was unwilling to compromise the independence of private schools by allowing strings on his bill that will ultimately destroy genuine choice for parents. Buesgens pulled his bill from consideration for the time being, rather than allowing it to move forward. As always, EdWatch is troubled by government strings on non-public schools, and the author was quick to recognize the hostile Dittrich amendment as entirely unacceptable.

Pioneer Press columnist Craig Westover has thought-provoking commentary on the recent voucher battle on his blog.

The House Education Committee will bring this back up tonight at a 6:00 p.m. hearing in the basement hearing room of the State Office Building. For an up to date recorded message giving committee meeting times and agendas call, (651) 296-9283.