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House dumps Profile of Learning
The Minnesota House voted overwhelmingly on Monday to repeal the Profile of Learning graduation standards. It's the fifth straight year the House has voted to repeal the profile. Supporters are more confident than ever that this is the year the standards will be scrapped. The Pawlenty administration has indicated its support of new standards by creating a task force to make new ones. The Minnesota Senate, which has voted to preserve the Profile in the past, is also inclined to make major changes. Several senators, however, say they don't want to move too quickly until they know what they're going to replace it with.

St. Paul, Minn. — The House voted 118-10 to repeal the Profile. The bill would require the education commissioner to create a new set of math and reading standards by April 15.

Rep. Tony Kielkucki, R-Lester Prairie, says his bill would allow the undefined set of math and reading standards to take effect unless the Legislature blocks them by April 13. He says the Profile of Learning isn't rigorous enough. Kielkucki says it's time the state moves in a different direction.

"We face tough choices as legislators. Everyday we face tough choices and the greatest choice we face is for the future. We have to look to the future. And today we are looking to the future of our children, our grandchildren, our great grand children. What we have does not work. We need to replace. We need to repeal," he said on the House floor.

A task force has already been named. Commissioner Cheri Peirson Yecke says she hopes to have the new agreed upon standards by the end of March. The bill would require new science, geography and history standards to be created in later years.

No lawmakers spoke in favor of the Profile on the House floor. Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown, said she's concerned the Legislature is tinkering too much with the state's education system. She's concerned the new set of standards won't be any better than the current Profile.

"They're talking about this wonderful committee. The people, the teachers, the students, the business people from across the state. That's who put in the original Profile and graduation standards. That was a representative group. Plus they had pilots all across the state. Now we're saying none of that was good. We're going to start all new from scratch and waste all this," Murphy said.

Others said they're concerned local school districts can't afford to implement the new standards without state assistance. Lawmakers defeated an amendment that would require the state to reimburse local school districts for making the changes.

Rep. Ron Latz, DFL-St. Louis Park, says lawmakers shouldn't place an unfunded mandate on schools. "It's simply not fair to hang this fiscal anchor around the necks of school boards, our students and our local property taxpayers."

House Republicans say there won't be a fiscal impact on local schools because districts constantly make changes to their curriculum.

Rep. Kielkucki says he hopes the DFL-controlled Senate also moves quickly to repeal the Profile. He says the voters, Gov. Pawlenty and now the House have spoken out against the Profile.

"I'm hoping the Senate looks at the vote totals and what's happened with those vote totals -- 29-0 in education policy. Today 118-10, even with some objections. But it was still 118 to do this. That's a pretty strong signal to do this. That's a pretty clear signal. We only had 10 'no' votes out of this body and that's a pretty strong signal to the Senate," he said.

Sen. Steve Kelley, DFL-Hopkins, says the Senate won't take any action until he sees a proposal from the education task force. He says he's not in favor of scrapping the Profile without knowing what will follow it.

"Nobody here is interested in the status quo. We're not interested in keeping the Profile the way they are. We generally agree that we're going to repeal them and replace them with something else. It's perfectly reasonable for Minnesotans know what the replacement looks like before the Legislature leaves this session," according to Kelley.

The 77-member task force will start work on creating the new standards on Wednesday.

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