In the Spotlight

News & Features
Go to Session 2003
DocumentSession 2003
DocumentBudget and Taxes
DocumentHigher Education
DocumentK-12 Education
DocumentHealth and Welfare
DocumentPublic Safety
More from MPR
Your Voice

DocumentE-mail this pageDocumentPrint this page
First vote to scrap Profile
Larger view
"The momentum is there. The passion is there," says Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke of the move to scrap the Profile. "I'm overwhelmed by the public response. I'm grateful for it and I think it will propel us on the right path." (MPR Photo/Tom Scheck)
The House Education Policy committee Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would repeal that Profile of Learning. It's the first of many steps to replace the state's academic standards. Gov. Pawlenty and others have been critical of the Profile, and say the state needs to move from the show-what-you-know system to a new set of standards. He's created a task force to develop the new standards by late March.

St. Paul, Minn. — The Education Policy Committee voted 29-0 in favor of the bill. Rep. Tony Kielkucki, R-Lester Prairie, says the voters spoke loudly about the Profile when they elected Gov. Pawlenty. Pawlenty called for eliminating the Profile because he says it focuses too much on process and not enough on content.

Kielkucki says the Profile is a failed multi-million dollar experiment. His bill would scrap the Profile and put new math and reading standards in place by the start of the next school year. He says the Profile was telling teachers what they should do in the classroom.

"Standards should not do that. Standards are content standards," says Kielkucki. "What my bill is really trying to do in that area is establish the standards and let the locals put together their curriculum. Then to allow the teachers to get to that curriculum and get to that standard."

Larger view
Image Lawmakers are"politicizing" education

Kielkucki's bill would call on the education commissioner to create a new set of reading and math standards by April 15. Lawmakers would then have until April 30 to approve or deny the new set of undefined standards. The bill also calls for new science standards by March 2004. History and geography standards would need to be created in 2005.

Education Commissioner Cheri Pierson Yecke says she hopes a task force will have the new standards ready by the end of March. Next week she will name the 60 members who will sit on the committee.

"The momentum is there. The passion is there. The fact that we have almost 2,000 people signed up -- and these people are just so enthusiastic and so supportive of the direction that governor has chosen to go. I'm overwhelmed by the public response. I'm grateful for it and I think it will propel us on the right path," says Yecke.

Minnesota must have statewide academic standards in place to comply with the federal No Child Left Behind law. The new law requires annual testing of students in third through eighth grade based on state standards. Failure to comply would cost Minnesota $200 million in federal education funding.

One person testified against the removal of the Profile -- Prof. Joseph Michel of the Univeristy of St. Thomas School of Education. He says lawmakers are politicizing education by constantly changing standards for students. He says Minnesota already has a standards-based curriculum in place.

"I believe that the Profile needs to be results-oriented in order for students to demonstrate what they have learned, rather than filling in little spaces on electronically controlled or corrected test items," Michel says.

I don't think we should ... say, 'Let's throw this out and then we'll somehow come up with something to replace it.'
- Sen. Leroy Stumpf, urging a slower approach to repealing the Profile

Several DFL lawmakers say they voted in favor of the bill because they think some changes need to be made to the Profile. However, Rep. Kent Eken, DFL-Twin Valley, says he doesn't want to see lawmakers make a mistake by rushing to get rid of it.

"I am concerned that some may move us in the direction of more pen and pencil and paper learning, and not develop that type of stimulation in their students to continue their desire to learn," says Eken. "I think that the main objective of education is to stimulate a desire to learn in our students, and give them a broader perspective."

Other lawmakers said they were concerned local school districts would have to bear the brunt of paying for the transition to new standards.

Now that the bill is moving in the House, Profile opponents are calling on the DFL-controlled Senate to start action on the bill. The Senate has resisted calls for changes in previous years. Sen. Leroy Stumpf, DFL-Thief River Falls, says he doesn't think the Senate should consider repealing the Profile until lawmakers see what the new curriculum looks like.

"I don't think we should be throwing it out the window -- say, 'Let's throw this out and then we'll somehow come up with something to replace it.' I think what we do is come up with something first to replace it, and then we judge if that's better than what we have."

The House bill now moves on to the House Local Government Operations and Veterans Affairs Committee.

Respond to this story
News Headlines
Related Subjects