Issue Background

Education funding

A strong system of public schools, one which gives every student across Minnesota an equal opportunity for success, will strengthen our communities and improve the lives of children and their families. 

The foundation of the system rests on well-trained teachers, adequately supported students and policymakers taking the responsibility to create the conditions in which teaching and learning succeeds. 

Investing in smaller class sizes, high-quality training for educators, learning environments where students get the supports they need and competitive compensation packages are key to attracting and retaining great educators. 

But Minnesota has failed to make those needed investments and now faces a critical teacher shortage, particularly in greater Minnesota and with teachers of color. 

One of the biggest problems is the state’s share of funding schools hasn’t kept pace with inflation—it’s 18 percent less than 2003 in real dollars. Ninety-three percent of Minnesota’s 330 school districts receive less real per-pupil aid in 2019 than they did in 2003, according to a 2018 North Star Policy Institute report. 

Minnesota also isn’t fully funding the programs and services we know help boost student success. Investing in teacher quality improves student performance. Access to counselors and other support services also helps our students so they can focus on learning.

If Minnesotans truly want to create public schools our students deserve, we must infuse a significant investment in public education so we can:

  • Reverse Minnesota’s perpetual underfunding of education by significantly increasing the per-pupil funding formula and tying it to inflation. The state must also fully fund its portion of special education costs instead of relying on school districts to pay for them.
  • Lower class sizes so teachers can give students more of the individual attention they need and deserve.
  • Ensure all education support professionals earn a living wage of at least $15 an hour.
  • Provide additional resources for school districts to hire more student support staff, including counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and other job classifications. Minnesota has one of the country’s worst ratios of counselors to students—one counselor for every 743 students.
  • Create an equitable and sustainable funding stream for the 2011 Teacher Development and Evaluation law, an unfunded state mandate, to ensure teacher quality and lift the cap on the Q Comp program.
  • Expand access to full-service community schools across the state. If we want to have equitable outcomes for our students we must have equitable opportunities for our children and families, no matter where they live.
  • Increase teacher compensation. The salary and benefits teachers earned in 2015 was 11 percent less than similar college-educated workers, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
  • Make health insurance more affordable, fair and predictable for educators and school employees so they stay in the profession.
  • Continue funding for the pension stability package passed in 2018. 


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