Education takes center stage as Dayton, Johnson prepare for November elections

By KBJR News 1

August 30, 2014 Updated Aug 31, 2014 at 11:16 AM CDT

Duluth, Minn. (NNCNOW.com) --- When summer ends and kids go back to school, the fall campaign heats up with education issues being an inevitable cornerstone in hundreds of political campaigns.

"We will continue to make a commitment to education," said Governor Mark Dayton earlier this week. "That is our future right there. (A) well educated work force is the reason businesses locate or expand."

Governor Dayton is putting education front in center in his reelection campaign, pointing to the importance of a well trained workforce for new industrial developments.

"Maurice's in Downtown Duluth, the largest downtown development project in the history of the city, that's because they have well qualified people," Dayton said.

Governor Dayton is also touting his record of securing funds for all day kindergarten across the state.

All day kindergarten is getting a mixed review with Governor Dayton's Republican rival.

"We sent our kids to all day kindergarten at the public schools where we live, and I think it is a great thing for most parents," said Republican gubernatorial candidate Jeff Johnson. "And it is here to stay. I'm not going to try to roll that back at all; the problem of it is it goes to this mentality that the state should tell school districts on how to spend their money."

"He wants to cut funding for education and everything else to give more tax cuts to the rich," responded Dayton in a separate interview, "and that is not going to take us forward."

According to the Jeff Johnson campaign, that is not true.

Johnson says he is forging a position on education that gives more power to local school districts, parents, and teachers.

"What I'm not going to do is tie the hands of schools and school district," Johnson said. "Because they know number one what is best for their kids, and number two they want the best teachers."

Johnson is criticizing Governor Dayton on vetoing a bill that would change educational policy, claiming union bosses have too much pull in the Dayton Administration.

"He vetoed the last-in first-out bill which essentially said schools and school districts can base their hiring and firing of teachers on something other than length of tenure," commented Johnson. "But now under the law it says you can't--you can't base it on quality in anyway."

Nick Minock