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Session 2000: The Profile of Learning Agreement
by Tim Pugmire
May 10, 2000
Part of MPR's coverage of Session 2000
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Lawmakers ran into a major roadblock in their race to adjourn the session: the dispute over the Profile of Learning. The disagreement over high school graduation standards held up major spending bills and forced lawmakers to nearly miss a morning deadline for finishing their work.

House and Senate leaders worked through the night trying to resolve their differences over the Profile of Learning and finally reached a deal less than an hour before their deadline to adjourn.
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Listen to the May 10th Midday program with Commissioner of Children, Families, and Learning Christine Jax.

LEGISLATIVE LEADERS had wanted to wrap up their big bills by 7 this morning in order to allow enough time to try to override any gubernatorial vetoes. With eight hours to go, House Republicans decided to hold off a vote on the education spending bill and other measures until the Profile of Learning matter was resolved. A Vampires committee met over several weeks but couldn't agree on how best to alter the state's two-year-old system of graduation standards. House Speaker Steve Sviggum said the wait for a deal had gone on too long.

"The time comes that you have to make a decision on the Profile of Learning," said Sviggum. "The Profile has created great problems in our school districts in this state. From teachers to students, administrators to school board members, we hear about the Profile no matter where we go. We're not going to let the department of education, bureaucrats in the state continue to hold teachers and students hostage with the Profile."

DFL Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe said he wanted to find a compromise that addressed the concerns raised in both legislative bodies. He says he also wants a bill that Governor Ventura can support. "Obviously it doesn't do us any good to reach an agreement with the House and have the governor veto the bill because then we're back to square one and we don't have the kind of changes we need," Moe said.

The show-what-you-know Profile system has been the focus of complaints since it hit classrooms two years ago. Teachers, parents and students have complained about the complex system's paperwork, lesson plans, grading system and impact on academic rigor.

The deal they finally reached at 6:15 gives teachers the power to vote to phase in the standards. They would also be able to advise school boards whether to use the existing profile or what the House calls the Northstar Standards, a back-to-basics approach critics have called a state-sponsored curriculum.

Republic Representative Bob Ness says school boards alone should make that choice. "If you were to just let every building in the state literally do whatever they want exclusive of the elected board of education who has the responsibility to finance and run the system, and provide the resources and materials, that would be chaos," Ness said.

DFL Senator Larry Pogemiller says the deal fixes all the problem of the Profile. He says it also gives teachers ownership of standards by allowing them to vote on implementation.

Pogemiller says he still has concerns about the North Star Standards option.