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Public education in Minnesota

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K-12 Education in Minnesota
State Superintendent: Brenda Cassellius
Number of students: 839,738[1]
Number of teachers: 52,832
Teacher/pupil ratio: 1:15.9
Number of school districts: 555
Number of schools: 2,392
Graduation rate: 78%[2]
Per-pupil spending: $10,712[3]
See also
Public education in Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Education
Minnesota school districts
List of school districts in Minnesota
The Minnesota public school system (prekindergarten-grade 12) operates within districts governed by locally elected school boards members and superintendents. Minnesota has 341 school districts.

The Minnesota state constitution requires that the legislature estbalish a "general and uniform system of public schools. The legislature shall make such provisions by taxation or otherwise as will secure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state."[4] However, the legislature is prohibited from funding sectarian schools.[5]

School revenues, expenditures and budget

See also: Minnesota state budget
Minnesota's education costs are 23.5% of the state budget

The FY 2010-11 state budget totals approximately $59.970 billion in spending. Education (K-12) accounts for 23.5%, $14.09 billion, of total state spending. Higher education accounts for 5.1%.[6] Of the state budget, school district revenues account for 9%, $2.94 billion for FY 2010-11. $2.1 billion of total school revenues comes are tax revenues, $878 million are non-tax revenues.[7]

The cost per pupil is $10,140, ranking 20th highest the nation according the Census Bureau 2007-2008 report.[8] Because the state budget needs more cash, it is borrowing $142 million from the schools which it will pay back without interest in May of 2011.[9]

Personnel salaries

According to the Minnesota Department of Education in the 2008-2009 school year the average teacher salary was $52,414. The average principal salary in state elementary schools was $93,711, however the average principal salary in state middle schools was $98,779. The average principal salary in state high schools was $90,411.[10]

School year Avg. teacher salary Avg. principal salary (elem.) Avg. principal salary (middle) Avg. principal salary (high)
2008-09 $52,414[10] $93,711[10] $98,779[10] $90,411[10]
2007-08 $50,345[11] $90,743[11] $96,023[11] $88,511[11]
2006-07 $49,718[12] $89,684.27[12] $93,670.22[12] $86,893.75[12]

Role of unions

The main union related to the Minnesota school system is Education Minnesota, an affiliate of the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT). For the 2003 tax period the union had: $24.6 million in total revenue, $24.1 million in total expenses and $26.5 million in total assets.[13]

List of local Minnesota school unions:[14]

Role of school boards

The State Board of Education consists of eleven members appointed by the governor. The members are an assortment of six classroom teachers, one higher education faculty member, one school administrator and three members of the public.[15]

Taxpayer-funded lobbying

See also: Minnesota government sector lobbying

The main education government sector lobbying organization is the Minnesota School Boards Association.


Despite a 2007 mandate, Minnesota House File 548, State Government Omnibus bill, Minnesota did not launch a spending database until March 2009.[16][17] The established site, created by Minnesota Management and Budget (MMB), "offers on-line, round-the-clock access to data on state payments for schools, local governments, contractors and other vendors. With just a few clicks, citizens can access detailed information on most state spending." According to state officials the data is supplied by the state's accounting system and updated nightly."[16]


A 2009 study, Leaders and Laggards, conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for a Competitive Workplace, Frederick M. Hess of the conservative American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, and the Center for American Progress, gave Minnesota: "A" in academic achievement; "C" in rigor of standards; "A" in post-secondary and workforce readiness; "B" in for its teacher workforce policies; "C" in data quality.[18]

Academic performance

According to the 2008-2009 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) scores 64% of students had proficient scores in mathematics, compared to 62% in the 2007-2008 school year. In reading, 72% of students scored at a proficient level compared to 71% in the 2007-2008 school year. According to reports approximately half of the state's public and charter schools were considered "underperforming."[19][20]

Year Math % proficient Reading % proficient
2008-2009 64% 72%
2007-2008 62% 71%

Individual school academic performance scores can be viewed here.

A list, provided by the Star Tribune, of Minnesota's 2008-2009 school test scores can be found here.

State Budget Solutions’ Education Study: “Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working”

State Budget Solutions’ examined national trends in education from 2009-2011, including state-by-state analysis of education spending, graduation rates, and average ACT scores. The study shows that states that spend the most do not have the highest average ACT test scores, nor do they have the highest average graduation rates. A summary of the study is available here. Download the full report here: Throwing Money At Education Isn’t Working.

See National Chart to compare data from all 50 states.

State Spending on Education vs. Academic Performance 2012

State 2011 Total Spending[21] 2011 Education Spending[22] 2011 Percent Education Spending 2012 Total Spending[23] 2012 Education Spending[24] 2012 Percent Education Spending 2010 Avg. ACT score[25] 2011 Avg. ACT score[26] 2012 Avg. ACT score[27] 2010 Graduation Rate[28] 2011 Graduation Rate[29]
Minnesota $56.0 billion $15.9 billion 28.3% $55.7 billion $16.1 billion 28.9% 22.9 22.9 22.8 86.5% 86.4%

School choice

School choice options include:

  • Charter schools: Minnesota opened its first charter school in 1992. As of 2009 the state has a total of 153 charter schools with over 30,000 enrolled students. Charter schools serve as an alternative to traditional public schools.[30]
  • Public school open enrollment: The state of Minnesota has an inter-district open enrollment. In other words students can apply to attend public schools outside of their district. According to state officials more than 30,000 students participated in open enrollment in 2008.[31]
  • Online learning: The state of Minnesota does not have a state-led online program. The state does however have two online charter schools.[32][33] Additionally, state on-line education statute allows a public school student to apply to a certified online learning provider to enroll in full time or part-time online learning at no cost to the student.[34]

External links


  1. National Center for Education Statistics, "Table 2. Number of operating public schools and districts, state enrollment, teacher and pupil/teacher ratio by state: School year 2011–12," accessed March 18, 2014
  2. ED Data Express, "State Tables Report," accessed March 17, 2014 The site includes this disclaimer: "States converted to an adjusted cohort graduation rate [starting in the 2010-2011 school year], which may or may not be the same as the calculation they used in prior years. Due to the potential differences, caution should be used when comparing graduation rates across states."
  3. United States Census Bureau, "Public Education Finances: 2011," accessed March 18, 2014
  4. Minnesota Constitution,"Article 13, Section 1," retrieved October 28, 2009
  5. Minnesota Constitution,"Article 13, Section 2," retrieved October 28, 2009
  6. Minnesota State Budget,"Total State 2010-11 Operating Budget," retrieved October 29, 2009
  7. Minnesota State Budget,"Own Source Revenues," retrieved October 29, 2009
  8. Maine Watchdog, Education Spending Per Child, July 6, 2010
  9. The Minneapolis Star Tribune, State taps schools for another $142 million, Sept. 25, 2010
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Minnesota Department of Education,"2008-2009 Licensed Average Salary by District," July 27, 2009
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 Minnesota Department of Education,"2007-2006 Licensed Average Salary by District," July 27, 2009
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 Minnesota Department of Education,"2006-2007 Licensed Average Salary by District," November 16, 2007
  13. Center for Union Facts,"Education Minnesota," retrieved October 27, 2009
  14. Center for Union Facts,"Minnesota teachers unions," retrieved October 27, 2009
  15. Minnesota Department of Education,"Minnesota Board of Teaching," retrieved October 27, 2009
  17., "Many states, including Minnesota, lag in putting their spending on the Internet," February 27, 2009
  18. U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute,"Minnesota Education Report Card," retrieved November 17, 2009
  19. Star Tribune,"2009 School Test Results," retrieved October 29, 2009
  20. Star Tribune,"More Minnesota schools fall behind in math, reading," July 1, 2009
  21. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  22. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  23. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Total Spending" Aug. 4, 2012
  24. "Alabama Government Spending Chart - Education Spending"Aug. 4, 2012
  25. 2010 ACT National and State Scores "Average Scores by State"
  26. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  27. [ 2011 ACT National and State Scores " Average Scores by State"]
  28. National Center for Education Statistics
  29. National Center for Education Statistics
  30. Minnesota Department of Education,"Charter Schools," retrieved October 28, 2009
  31. Minnesota Department of Education,"Open Enrollment," retrieved October 28, 2009
  32. Keeping Pace with K – 12 Online Learning,"A Review of State-Level Policy and Practice," November 2008
  33. The Heritage Foundation,"Minnesota School Choice," retrieved October 27, 2009
  34. Minnesota Department of Education,"Online learning," retrieved October 28, 2009