Gov. vetoes Teach for America funding in higher ed bill

Gov. Mark Dayton has vetoed $1.5 million in funding for Teach for America programs in Minnesota.

It was the DFL governor's only line-item veto in the higher education bill he signed into law Friday afternoon.

Dayton explained his action in a letter, noting that Teach for America in fiscal 2011 reported its revenues nationwide exceeded its expenses by more than $50 million. With those financial resources, Dayton said he did not understand why the program needed a state grant.

The governor also said he was concerned about the way Teach for America was selected for the state grant. He said there was no competitive process allowing other applications to be considered.

"As other organizations do, we pursued direct funding because that is an available option, but if there is a competitive grant in the future, we would gladly be applying to that," said Crystal Brakke, executive director of Teach for America Twin Cities. "There was not one that I have been aware of for higher education in the past."

Brakke said the state money would have funded an expansion of the local program, which cannot depend on funding from the national organization. Teach for America currently has 76 teachers in 29 Minnesota schools.

"Eighty-percent of our organization's funding is raised locally," Brakke said. "We are responsible in Minnesota for raising the money to support our teachers and for supporting our program here in Minnesota."

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