As a teacher and coach for 34 years, I know firsthand that Minnesota has a long history of excellent public and private schools. Providing adequate and fair funding has to be among the highest priorities of our state government.

It is not right that our schools receive thousands less per student than schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Equity funding is essential to help lower class size and hire the staff necessary to properly instruct our students. We must also build in reform and accountability so that taxpayers are assured the dollars they entrust to the public school system are used in the classroom and not squandered on excessive bureaucracy or programs with dubious merit.

Funding is an important component, but it is not the only factor. There must be an emphasis on the basics of reading, writing, science and math to enable all students to form a solid knowledge base within these core curricula.

Perhaps more important than anything is for children to have a parent or parents actively involved in their child’s education. Nothing can replace parents as the ultimate education mentor and no government program can achieve the same success rate. Because of this, I fought to amend the K-12 Finance bill to give parents the right to opt in to controversial course subjects versus the status quo of opting out of the curriculum, sometimes doing so after the fact.