The air is getting cooler and big yellow busses are lining the streets across the state. You know what that means: it’s back-to-school time. But sadly, Minnesota students may be returning to schools with fewer teachers and resources than they had last year.
Here in Minnesota, we all want to see our kids get a world class education, no matter where they live or what they look like, but Republicans continued to shortchange students and teachers in the last legislative session. They proposed an increase of just 0.5 percent in K-12 education funding, an amount that doesn’t even keep up with inflation. It doesn’t take a math professor to see the flaws in those numbers.
Thankfully, Governor Tim Walz and DFLers in the legislature fought hard for our schools. They successfully defended pre-k for 4,000 young learners and secured a 2 percent K-12 education funding increase.
But we have to do more. Minnesota teachers are still dipping into their own paychecks for classroom supplies and dozens of Minnesota school districts are facing budget shortfalls.
In Burnsville-Eagan-Savage, teachers and staff members have been laid off due to budget cuts, and now many students have to say goodbye to their arts and athletics programs to make up for a $7 million deficit. Robbinsdale schools were forced to let go of 70 staff members because state funding isn’t keeping up. Hutchinson schools are considering big cuts to activities and staff. Class sizes are larger than ever in North Branch, where schools have been forced to lay off more and more teachers every year. Elk River and Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan schools are relying on increasing property taxes to make up for what they’ve lost and to keep funding schools in the community. Budget cuts are affecting St. Paul schools. Anoka-Hennepin schools. Metro schools. Rural schools. Suburban schools.
And at the end of the day, the people most affected by these budget cuts are our kids.
How are Minnesota students supposed to get critical one-on-one attention from their teacher in a classroom that’s packed to the brim? How can soon-to-be-graduates thrive in a 21st-century workforce if their schools rely on outdated tools? What happens when a student in crisis doesn’t have anyone to go to because their school’s counselor was laid off? Why are we asking teachers to buy classroom supplies with their own meager paychecks? Why should our kids miss out on the opportunity to play an instrument or their favorite sport so Republicans can continue to shell out big tax breaks for the super wealthy?
It’s not fair. It’s not fair to our students, our teachers, or our families.
That’s why we need you to help us hold Republicans accountable. Governor Walz and DFLers in the legislature had big goals for education that were squashed by the Republican majority in the Senate. We can’t let them continue to shortchange our schools and leave our students behind. Sign up to receive updates from ABM and together we can take action to make sure that all Minnesota students have the tools they need to succeed, no matter what they look like or where they live.