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Mike Freeman: Education
By Karen-Louise Boothe
July 27, 1998
Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

MIKE FREEMAN IS PROUD TO SAY he's the product of public schools and his children attend public schools.

Freeman: I firmly and passionately believe in the role and the contribution of public education. I think one of the two phenomenas in this country that's shown the greatness of its people is the free public education system.
But like his DFL counterparts, Freeman believes public school education needs improvement. He supports statewide testing to help gauge the successes and failures, but says the Profile of Learning is too bureaucratic and should be adopted only by schools that want it.

Freeman says he's prepared to increase the state's portion of funding to 70 percent, up from the current 60 percent.

Freeman: When I left the legislature after the 1990 session, it was in the neighborhood of 68 to 70 percent. Unfortunately, under the Carlson administration it fell as far as to 54 percent, which means that 40 percent had to come from local property taxes, and that's wrong, and I want to change that.
Freeman promises a 20 percent property tax reduction for homeowners and renters through current rebate programs and by boosting the state's contribution to K-12 education.

Freeman would target an additional $200 million from the surplus to schools which have a high enrollment of students on the free and reduced lunch program.

Freeman: Every study I've seen shows that children from lower-income families have more, and they do learn, and they do well - but there are additional challenges for many of those children. We need to provide smaller class size, additional teachers' aides, tutors, mentors for those kids who need it. And those schools with a large percentage of kids on free and reduced lunch aren't just in Minneapolis and St. Paul, they're all around the state - the northeast and southwest, too.
Freeman proposes class size to be smaller. He's proposing all-day kindergarten for parents who want it for their children, and he would guarantee first-year free tuition to a public college or vocational school to all Minnesota high school graduates. But assistance would be capped at $2,800.

As for vouchers for parents wishing to send their children to private school? He opposes them.

Freeman: Public dollars should go to public education. I do not support Arne Carlson's voucher "lite" which was tax credits and enhanced deductions. There's no question in my mind that Carlson's voucher "lite" is taking money directly away from public education.
If elected, Freeman says he'll be hands-on, but he won't micro-manage schools - he'll leave management up to a commissioner of education.