Monthly Archives

January 2010

Setting the Tone

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

A recent Letter to the Editor to the Northfield News was harshly critical of the fact that sitting Secretary of State, Mark Ritchie spoke to my Advanced Placement Government & Politics class (he did not speak to a history class as erroneously stated in the attack). One of the most trying aspects of public service has been those instances when I have had to defend against unfounded accusations. These smears, which can easily be checked out with a simple phone call or email, are often perpetuated with intent to damage a professional reputation solely because one subscribes to a political position that differs from the writer.

Allow me to set the record straight; a record, I might add, that can easily be verified and substantiated.

As a political science teacher for the past 26 years, I have had numerous elected officials, on both sides of the aisle, speak to my Government and Civics classes. Furthermore, when doing so their party affiliation is irrelevant to my objective of having students come to understand the intricacies of their government at work. At no time do these speakers, regardless of their political views, ever attempt to “push their party’s agenda” as the writer assumes.

I take strong exception with any one’s assertion that I have – at any time – handed out partisan election materials in class that supports my own or anyone’s candidacy. Such a claim is an unmitigated lie. I exert extraordinary measures to make sure that my students receive the best education possible in an unbiased, open environment with respect to all viewpoints. I would never compromise my own ethical standards of professionalism by crossing a line between teacher and candidate.

I see no benefit to anyone from these types of tactics or ad hominem attacks. To cast aspersions on my professional integrity on the flimsy basis of what was “reported” to this writer and then treat it as fact, only serves to erode political discourse.

I am proud of my service to the Northfield School district and the constituents of District 25 and will continue to address all challengers and candidates – with respect and honest inquiry. In the future, it is my hope that they would uphold the same standard of decency.

50th Birthday Party & Fundraiser

By | Event | No Comments

Young KevinHey Gang! I turn 50 this weekend! That’s crazy in itself, but nevertheless, I have a few birthday wishes for this half century milestone.
1. A Viking victory over the New Orleans Saints
2. Spending time with friends and family
I could type a few other things like world peace or a budget miracle at the state capitol in the next few months but we will start small and work up from there. You can help by showing up at the party this Friday night, January 22, Upstairs at the Rueb-N-Stein in downtown Northfield (503 Division Street). My good friends in the band, Area 51, will be performing along with another good friend, Northfield’s own Chad Johnson. A cash bar and free hors d’oeuvres will be provided. No gifts, but I will accept a donation to my re-election campaign which begins in earnest this summer and fall. If you can’t make the party, please consider hitting the donate link at this site. I really appreciate your support.
Finally….yell real loud on Sunday. Let’s rally behind the Purple People Eaters on their way to Super Bowl XXIV. Who dat gonna beat those Saints? The Vikings, that’s who. Go Vikes!

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.

By | Kevin Dahle MN Senate District 20 | No Comments

The following was written by James Reston, for the New York Times, on August 29, 1963, the day the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream…” speech.

Abraham Lincoln, who presided in his stone temple today above the children of the slaves he emancipated, may have used just the right words to sum up the general reaction to the Negro’s massive march on Washington. “I think,” he wrote to Gov. Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania in 1861, “the necessity of being ready increases. Look to it.” Washington may not have changed a vote today, but it is a little more conscious tonight of the necessity of being ready for freedom. It may not “look to it” at once, since it is looking to so many things, but it will be a long time before It forgets the melodious and melancholy voice of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. crying out his dreams to the multitude.
It was Dr. King who, near the end of the day, touched the vast audience. Until then the pilgrimage was merely a great spectacle. Only those marchers from the embattled towns in the Old Confederacy had anything like the old crusading zeal. For many the day seemed an adventure, a long outing in the late summer sun – part liberation from home, part Sunday school picnic, part political convention, and part fish fry.
But Dr. King brought them alive in the late afternoon with a peroration that was an anguished echo from all the old American reformers. Roger Williams calling for religious liberty, Sam Adams calling for political liberty, old man Thoreau denouncing coercion, William Lloyd Garrison demanding emancipation and Eugene V. Debs crying for economic equality – Dr. King echoed them all.
“I have a dream,” he cried again and again. And each time the dream was a promise out of our ancient articles of faith” phrases from the Constitution, lines from the great anthem of the nation, guarantees from the Bill of Rights, all ending with a vision that they might one day all come true.

Listening in Montgomery

By | Economy, Education, Rice County | No Comments

This past Monday I had the opportunity to sit in on a joint session of the Montgomery city council and school board. Montgomery successfully passed a school bond referendum this past December. There’s no question the Montgomery Lonsdale school district was in need of a new facility and it was clear the Superintendent, Board, and Council members were excited about the city building a new high school. As we talked about the state budget crisis and the $1.2 billion shortfall facing the upcoming legislative session, one message was quite clear. Montgomery, both school and city, is not in a financial position to make significant budget cuts. Since 2003, Minnesota state investment in schools has dropped an inflation-adjusted 13 percent and schools like Montgomery Lonsdale has had difficulty making ends meet.
The city faces similar financial strain. In 2009, Montgomery lost $71,353 in Local Government Aid (LGA) though unallotment. The 2010 cuts will total $164,408. Needed improvements for streets and infrastructure may have to wait. The weak economy has dramatically softened the real estate market and as local assessments continue to catch up to the effects of the economy, property values will continue to adjust. Last year, residential homestead property values overall fell in cities. On top of that, commercial and industrial property values are on the decline. As a result, cities could see more of the burden of their property tax levy shifting to homeowners in the foreseeable future.
How much more can we cut LGA to cities like Montgomery? What kind of community do we want to live in? How can we ensure our students are getting the best education if we continue to slash budgets while schools are barely holding on with a funding stream that relies on operating referendums? While schools can be placed on a failing list for not making Average Yearly Progress (AYP), perhaps we should place an entire state on the failing list for not properly investing in our students, our schools, and our communities. When a school is not making AYP, everyone rallies to address the problem. When a community sees the need for a new school, local citizens step up and deliver. We need that same effort, in bipartisan fashion, at the State Capitol come February.

Education Forum

By | Economy, Education | No Comments

The following report was written by Rob Hardy, school board chair for Cannon River STEM School, for northfield.org.

About 75 people gathered in the big room at ARTech charter school on Tuesday, January 5, for an evening of conversation with State Senator Kevin Dahle and State Representative David Bly. The main topic of the evening was education funding, and the impact on Minnesota public schools, and charter schools in particular, of the state budget crisis and the 27.5% holdback of state general education funds.

What is the 27% holdback? By statute, 10% of state per pupil education funding is held back from public schools in the state of Minnesota until after final enrollment figures are available for the school year. The money is generally paid to the schools in the first half of the following school year. This year, in an effort to address the state budget shortfall without raising taxes, Gov. Pawlenty increased the holdback to 27%. This means that 27% of the amount that schools have budgeted, and to which they are entitled according to the per pupil funding formula, is held back—payment to the schools is deferred.

This has put charter schools into a bind. Because 27% of their general education funding is being held back, schools are finding it necessary to secure loans in order to meet their expenses—to pay teachers. The interest payments then have to be included the school’s general education budget. In effect, funds that should have gone into the classroom are going into interest payments to banks—if, that is, the schools can secure loans at a time when banks are tightening credit.

Both legislators expressed their strong support for charter schools. The hard reality is that the state budget is facing a projected $5 billion shortfall in the next biennium. To this point, the stategy of Gov. Pawlenty has been to make cuts and accounting shifts, rather than to raise additional revenue.

See the entire story at http://northfield.org/