A bold education finance bill

HF 630 includes smart proposals that provide a much-needed shake-up for state education.

Daily Editorial Board

Last week, MinnPost reported on the ambitious efforts to improve Minnesota education proposed in HF 630, the Omnibus K-12 Education Policy and Finance Bill currently making its way through the Minnesota House. Goals include achieving universal literacy by third grade as well as reaching a 100 percent high-school graduation rate.

Perhaps the bill’s greatest achievements are increasing both freedom and accountability at the most local level. One of the bill’s aims is to reduce the state’s wide achievement and opportunity gaps. However, it allows each school district to define its own approach in doing so, stating that “the school board of each eligible district must formally develop and implement a long-term comprehensive plan” that works to “increase the academic achievement of all students.” The school districts can’t simply create a plan and not implement it, however. Nor will districts be able to afford to hold on to a failing plan. Under the bill, each school district would have to hold an annual public meeting, where it would provide data demonstrating progress in closing the disparity in student academic achievement among all racial categories. As MinnPost reported, districts not showing progress will have to forfeit up to 4 percent of their funding.

Another noteworthy change that would come under the bill is the end of the infamous Graduation-Required Assessment for Diploma exam. The elimination of the GRAD is perhaps long overdue, as the exam has proven to mostly be just another hoop for students to jump through, while providing little more than additional stress for high school seniors.

After much outcry about the achievement gap both in the media and by the public, HF 630 finally provides a meaningful path to reducing it. The annual public meetings as well as scrapping the unnecessary GRAD exam are both solid reforms and show that the state Legislature is seeking to pass far more than a status quo education finance bill.