Constitutional Amendment Testimony
March 6, 2020 Minnesota Senate E-12 Committee
Evidently there were so many testifiers opposing the Constitutional Amendment that many did not have the opportunity to speak. This testimony has been sent to the committee.
Minnesota Advocates & Champions for Children
Senate E-12 Policy & Finance Committee
March 6, 2020
Madam Chair and Committee Members,
My name is Linda Bell and I represent Minnesota Advocates & Champions for Children with a membership of just over 8,000 volunteer grassroots citizens who are passionate about education, children and families.
MACC completely agrees that the educational achievement gap in Minnesota must be remedied. We’ve been talking about the gaps for a very, very long time and we can see, there has been no success. However, we just don’t believe that this Constitutional Amendment is the way to go about it.
We have a number of questions and concerns about the Amendment. When you study the original Constitution and the Amendment side-by-side, one quickly sees how much we have to lose with the Amendment.
The very first statement includes “all children”. All children means all children. All children will be included in the constitutional amendment. It does not state “all public school children”, it states all children.
The amendment seeks to change the purpose of education from academics and skills to solely skills training. The children most affected by the achievement gap need solid instruction in academics to be informed, literate and educated citizens. We must not remove the phrase, “the stability of a republic depends mainly upon the intelligence of the citizenry”. The new language sounds quite ominous.
The Amendment seeks to remove “the legislature”, as the duly elected group responsible for education, and hands this responsibility over to the “the state,” a broader category.
The author of the Amendment/bill is intentionally using the Amendment to change our state from a republic to a democracy. No where in the Amendment is republic mentioned, as in the original, but democracy most certainly is. According to the explanation and intent given by the author, they state, “A democracy elevates the obligation of the state,” meaning a democracy increases the power of the state. If the state seeks to take more power unto itself, whom does it remove power from? From parents. This Amendment seeks to remove parental rights and likely has broader implications.
The Amendment seeks to remove educational options within our constitution by stating, “Every child has a fundamental right to a public school education”. “Every child means Every child” just like “All means All”. The Amendment is stating that all children are a part of this “fundamental right to a public school education.” Considering the changes coming through House File 1 and Senate File 3606 and others in the Senate, we know that in the section on Parent Aware establishment, the legislature moves to “increase funding and regulations” over “both public and private schools” essentially forcing taxpayers to subsidize all schools. All schools will be same under HF 1/SF 3606 in the same way that they will all be the same under the Amendment.
Lastly, the Amendment seeks to take state authority of the achievement standards, Common Core in English, College & Career Ready Standards in Math, which are also federal and United Nations standards. By embedding standards and curriculum into our Constitution, the state will dictate the curriculum in every district and non-public school.
MACC opposes the Constitutional Amendment because it does nothing to fix the achievement gap. In fact, the amendment lowers educational achievement expectations by removing academics all together. Indeed, the entire intent of the Amendment is to remove parental rights, the legislator’s role in education, academics for skills while linking Common Core standards into our Constitution and replacing our republic with a democracy. This Amendment is one that must never see the light of day again.