GOPers with teaching experience seek meeting with Dayton

Eight Minnesota House Republicans who have worked in public schools are asking for a meeting with DFL Gov. Mark Dayton to discuss his veto of the education funding bill.

Dayton contends the bill’s overall $400 million in new spending is insufficient, and he is unhappy it left out his priority of universal preschool for all 4-year-olds.

In a letter to the governor Thursday, the Republicans said the bill passed by the House and Senate on the last day of the 2015 session would provide an additional $60 million for “proven early learning initiatives,” such as early education scholarships and school pre-kindergarten aid.

Dayton said during a news conference Wednesday that he stands by his earlier comment that some Republican legislators "hate the public schools" and believes Republicans who opposed his preschool proposal owe an apology to Minnesota parents. The legislators took issue with Dayton's comments.

“Our differences in opinion on this issue are rooted not in hatred for public schools, as you recently stated, but rather a goal to target our resources effectively to ensure we are lifting up the children who need the most help on their path to educational achievement,” the legislators wrote.

The former and current teachers who signed the letter are state Reps. Peggy Bennett of Albert Lea, Greg Davids of Preston, Bob Dettmer of Forest Lake, Sondra Erickson of Princeton, Dan Fabian of Roseau, Kelly Fenton of Woodbury, Ron Kresha of Little Falls and Dean Urdahl of Grove City.

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House Education Finance Chair Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, also signed the letter.

They asked Dayton for a meeting soon to share their perspectives as teachers and parents of public school children and to “try to resolve our differences.”

Updated: 3:35 p.m.

Dayton's office said Thursday the governor will appear with Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius and other officials at Westview Elementary in Apple Valley Friday afternoon to talk about "the benefits of preschool for all Minnesota students."