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Rep. Abeler: Oversight of public schools is state's responsibility

Posted by: Abby Simons under Minnesota campaigns, Minnesota legislature Updated: January 27, 2014 - 1:51 PM

A federal initiative to increase oversight of the nation's public schools has roused concern from a Minnesota legislator who said he plans to author a "legislative firewall" to protect the privacy of the state's kids from government overreach.

“Everything the federal government has put onto us has cost more money and made it more difficult to educate our students,” said Rep. Jim Abeler, R-Anoka. “There are districts in Minnesota that have done a great job of fixing the achievement gap in Minnesota. This bill would make it harder to continue that.”

Abeler, a veteran state lawmaker who is running for U.S. Senate, said constituents at his campaign stops throughout the state have shared their worries about the trend, bolstered most recently by the Strengthening America’s Schools Act, a 2000-plus page Senate bill that focuses on a variety of educational issues from college and career readiness to the education of minority children. Abeler said it’s another example of the federal government wresting power from the states in an effort to fix something that isn’t broken.

Abeler plans to author legislation would protect Minnesota by giving the state an “opt-out” option from sending student data such as test scores to a national database. The bill would also require that parents be notified and give the opportunity to consent to requests to release student data outside of the school district or Minnesota Department of Education.

 “If my bill passes, if it becomes law, nothing will change in Minnesota. Hooray. And then we’ll be inoculated from this, the Obamacare of education,” he said, tapping a thick copy of the federal bill. “Already we struggle to help Minnesota students to be the international competitors they can be. Let’s not make it harder.”

Abeler plans to introduce the bill during the 2014 Legislative Session, which begins next month.

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