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Skip Humphrey: Education
By Laura McCallum
July 27, 1998
Click for audio RealAudio 2.0 14.4
Part of Election '98

SKIP HUMPHREY LIKES TO TALK ABOUT education as a continuum, starting with the critical toddler years and running through college. He quotes his running mate State Senator Roger Moe.

Humphrey: Look, these are the "bookends" of education. The book in the center is very important, that's K-12, but it is terribly important that we get it right in the first part, and in the latter part as well.
In the first part, Humphrey supports tax credits for learning-based day care and encourages schools to provide all-day kindergarten. In the latter part, he says the state should fund two years of college for needy Minnesota students. He also advocates more state funding to reduce class sizes, saying a well-trained workforce is vital to Minnesota's future.
Humphrey: I mean, that doesn't come free, but it's a great investment. The return on that investment - and we have to remember that. Some will say this is spending - well, in a sense it's spending, but it's also very much an investment.
Humphrey hasn't said specifically how he'll pay for smaller classes, tuition-free college, and other education priorities, but will likely announce his budget plan this week. But Humphrey says Minnesota can afford to put more money into education, given the state's rosy financial picture, and he says the state should pick up more of the education tab than the current approximate 60 percent. Property taxpayers pay the remaining 40 percent.
Humphrey: My goal in our administration is to see that we get to a 70-30 ratio. My own personal goal - I think that it would be wise for the state to look towards a longer-term goal of 75-25. Now what does that do? That ensures a more uniform system of education and that's very important. It also gives some tax relief because it takes some pressure off of the local burden.
Humphrey says more state investment in education needs to be combined with high standards to hold schools accountable. He generally supports the state's graduation standards, but thinks there should be more local involvement in the Profile of Learning - that portion that requires students to master 24 skills in 10 different learning areas. He is strongly opposed to vouchers, and says it's inappropriate to put public dollars into private education. Humphrey's other major educational priority is safe schools, and he touts some of his attorney general initiatives. Humphrey says students now feel their schools are safer.
Humphrey: But there's still a significant number of young people that have real fears, and we know that many of them are very real. That there is violence. That weapons, unfortunately, show up - mainly knives, but we've had some occasions of guns. We know that the catcalls that start maybe in elementary school become very harsh, harassing calls and become the violent, negative calls and actions that are totally destructive of an individual's confidence in themselves and are very hurtful.
Humphrey says he's talked to hundreds of schools about preventing harassment and hate crimes, but says the governor needs to take a more active role in promoting safe schools. He also says education policy should involve listening to parents' ideas about improving schools for their children.