William H. Macy as Jerry Lundegaard - screenshot from FARGO
by Steve Timmer
Dec 30, 2014, 8:30 PM

The car salesman from Crown

It is little wonder that the now-Republican-controlled Minnesota House of Representatives chose a car salesman as its leader, somebody who knows his way around the showroom. Because it will take a “you want the undercoating, right?” level snow job to convince a skeptical public that the Republicans are serious about the things they claims to care about: transportation and education.

I have written many times about the Republicans in the Minnesota House standing shoulder to shoulder with Governor Gutshot in opposing the last real improvement to transportation funding. Just put “gas tax” in the search bar at the top of the page to see several of the recent ones. And Jerry, I mean Kurt, is already on record opposing any new one this session.

But what I want to talk about here is education.

Remember, this is the same cluster of buzzards who perched, again, shoulder to shoulder (do buzzards even have shoulders?) with Governor Gutshot for nearly a decade when billions were stolen from public schools in Minnesota in Gutshot’s “kick the can down the road, maybe I can be president” gambit. These monies, relied on by the local school boards, were only restored when we had a DFL legislature and a DFL governor.

This is also the buzzard cluster that resisted particularly funding for urban schools.

But now, says the car salesman from Crown, we’re really concerned about the achievement gap. Those poor minority kids!

And if you believe that, my friends, you really do want the undercoating.

What the car salesman from Crown and his pals really want is to further — nay, complete — the destruction of public education, the thing that the founders of Minnesota understood was the foundation of the state:

UNIFORM SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. The stability of a republican [little “r”] form of government depending mainly upon the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.

That’s Article XIII, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution. Notice that it doesn’t say “private” schools or “charter” schools. It means schools for everybody, not just those who have parents who can navigate private or charter school application BS, or afford private school tuition or the luxury of time to drive kids to a charter school every day. It means good school for everybody.

David Sirota wrote a story for Salon in 2013 that is worth reviewing. Sirota says:

 [L]et’s review the dominant fairy tale: As embodied by New York City’s major education announcement this weekend, the “reform” fantasy pretends that a lack of teacher “accountability” is the major education problem and somehow wholly writes family economics out of the story (amazingly, this fantasy persists even in a place like the Big Apple where economic inequality is particularly crushing). That key — and deliberate — omission serves myriad political interests.

Among the political interests it serves are the charter school pals of the car salesman from Crown. Like the people behind the anti-public school ads being run by the Minnesota Action Network; it is just a shame we don’t know who they are.

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