The Senate voted down a bill today that would have refused federal funding for schools if there were any federal mandate attached. In other words, basically all federal dollars would be rejected. The misguided SB 2180 was sponsored by Senator Oley Larsen of Minot and newly elected Senator Janne Myrdal from District 10. Thankfully common sense prevailed, and the body rejected this attempt to thumb its nose at the federal government.
It turns out, the way our federal system works it doesn’t matter if the state were to refuse their money; the mandates would still need to be followed. Perhaps certain Legislators should take that civics course they are now forcing high school students to take before graduating. Also, accepting federal dollars by the school district is a local decision. In North Dakota 177 of the 179 school districts have chosen to accept the federal money. Two have not. Those two districts have a combined enrollment of under 50 students.
I find it extremely ironic these legislators drafted a bill to push back on what they perceive as federal overreach, while their bill creates state overreach of local school district decision-making. Sponsors of the bill acknowledged there was very little appetite from their school districts for this bill. But what do those teachers, administrators, and school board members know, right?
With such a bad idea, you’d expect all 47 Senators to vote against the bill’s passage. You’d be wrong. Three Republican Senators voted in favor of denying schools federal dollars. Here they are along with how much money their school districts would lose in 2015 figures:
Senator Oley Larsen
$3,778,156.17 lost in District 3
* Not all of Minot’s schools are located in Larsen’s legislative district.
Senator Jordan Kannianen
At a minimum he voted to refuse $8,765,373.96 to schools in his district. That figure comes from the loss at New Town and Parshall alone. I am fairly certain there are more school districts located in Kannianen’s legislative district.
*Interesting note, Kannianen has home-schooled all eight of his children.
Senator David Clemens
West Fargo School District would be denied $4,951,396.51 if Clemens had his way.
As I noted, those dollar amounts are according to figures from 2015. Undoubtedly those amounts are different in 2017. We’ve been told by the legislature they intend to hold k-12 harmless this session as far as budgets go. Today all but three Senators voted to uphold that promise to date. If you are a teacher, administrator, parent, or someone who cares about public education, I urge you to remember these three members and ask them what they were thinking at the next public forum.