Playing with fire (
by Steve Timmer
Nov 8, 2021, 5:00 PM

Playing with fire

On Tuesday, November 9, 2021 — tomorrow — the Minneapolis School Board will discuss a resolution addressing the “Page Amendment” that has been proposed in the legislature and which would gut the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution. The draft resolution doesn’t call it the Page Amendment, just a legislative proposal to submit a ballot initiative to voters across Minnesota. Here’s the resolution.

MPS File_ Resolution (2021-… by Steve Timmer

The Page Amendment could as well be called the Highly-Segregated Charter School Preservation Amendment, because that is what it really is. I’ve written about it (at least) twice.

What Lies Beneath

Misleading at Best

In the briefest of summary, and as noted, the real purpose of the Page Amendment is to shank the Education Clause of the Minnesota Constitution, Article XIII, Section 1. Since the board meeting is tomorrow, and I don’t have time to write more, you’ll have to read the two stories above to see why.

The draft resolution seems dimly aware of what is really afoot, saying that the “general and uniform system of public schools” language should be maintained in an education clause of the constitution. But that is the language that most offends the proponents of the Page Amendment. It is the language on which the Minnesota Supreme Court relied in holding that all students have an equal protection right to a quality education.

The right that the Page Amendment appears to champion already exists in Minnesota law. But the “general and uniform system” language imperils the highly-segregated charter school industry (because that is what it is). Getting rid of this language is the raison d’être of the Page Amendment. It borders on quaint to think that the “general and uniform” language will remain if the Page People have their way.

And you know if the resolution passes, it will be characterized as support for the Page Amendment as currently written.

The resolution is cast as concern about school funding. If that’s the real concern, the MPS board ought to be giving full-throated support to the Cruz-Guzman plaintiffs. The two linked stories will tell you why that is, too.

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Update: One of the proofs of the truth that the Page Amendment is a trojan horse is how badly thought out it is. It purports to create a right to a quality education (which already exists under Minnesota law) but says nothing about the implementation of that right.

It doesn’t say who has standing to sue to enforce it. Can the Minneapolis School District sue the state to enforce it? I think that’s doubtful; the amendment says it’s creating an individual right, after all. The MPS can sue for adequate funding under the general and uniform language in the current Education Clause. The Page Amendment would delete that language, of course, in service of highly-segregated charter schools.

What’s the remedy for a violation? Could a judge order a school (or a district) to be closed? How about sending an individual plaintiff teenager to a private school with a good hockey team, like Shattuck, at taxpayer expense?

The Page Amendment is Pandora’s Box, to mix a metaphor, but issues of standing and remedy are ignored in a pell-mell rush to get rid of the current Education Clause.


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