For Immediate Release
May 17, 2021
Contact: Samantha Hanson
Page Amendment for Civil Right to Quality Public Education Introduced in Senate on 67th Anniversary of Brown v. Board
The bipartisan education policy, spearheaded by Justice Alan Page and Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari, has now been introduced in the House and Senate.
ST. PAUL, MINN. – Today, on the 67th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, State Senator Michelle Benson introduced SF 2563, the Page Amendment, to the Minnesota State Senate. The Page Amendment is a bill to amend the Minnesota state constitution to enumerate a civil right for all Minnesota children to quality public education.
The Page Amendment was first proposed following research from the Minneapolis Federal Reserve that highlighted Minnesota’s worst-in-the-nation education gaps by race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. The education gaps persist for decades and touch all 87 Minnesota counties.
“Every child in the state of Minnesota has unique potential, and the public education system in the state must bolster each child so they can reach that potential. Too many children have been failed by public education in Minnesota, and our worst-in-the-nation education gaps prove we are long overdue for serious education reform,” said Senator Benson (R – Ham Lake). “I am happy to introduce the latest version of the Page Amendment in the Senate today, a bill to establish a civil right to quality public education for all Minnesotans. This language will drive improvements in public schools while preserving the rights of families to choose the right type of education for their individual needs. Every child deserves the option of a quality public education and every family should be able to make the right choice for their child. Whether they choose private, charter, home, or public schooling, every Minnesotan should have full confidence their child will get a high quality education to help them succeed and thrive as adults.”
The amendment has the support of Justice Alan Page, whom the legislation is named for, as well as the Minnesota Business Partnership, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, Attorney General Keith Ellison, the Minnesota Parent Union, ten tribal nations, and numerous other parents, students, educators, and nonprofit, business and education leaders.
“A civil right to quality public education both raises and levels out the public education system for all Minnesotan children. The Page Amendment will ensure that education is indeed the great equalizer that it is meant to be,” said Senator John Hoffman (DFL – Champlin), a co-author of the amendment. “As today marks the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, it is important that we never forget that every child has a right to education. All means all. I am excited to work with families, teachers and communities to define quality public education. Minnesotans are ready to have this conversation and address education gaps. Better outcomes for Minnesota children are better outcomes for the entire state.”
Once the amendment passes the state Senate and House of Representatives, it must be approved by Minnesotans in a statewide general election to become law.
The amendment would make three changes to the current state of Minnesota education. First, the creation of the civil right establishes education as a paramount duty of the state. Second, it changes the state mandate from “the uniformity or efficiency of the system” to “the quality of public education offered to people”. Third, it empowers families and children by offering an avenue to address inequities in the judicial branch if their civil right is compromised.
“The Page Amendment is the best legislative opportunity in decades to address and narrow Minnesota’s education gaps. This past year taught us that, when a system is broken beyond repair, you must create a new one. That is what we will do with the Page Amendment,” said Nevada Littlewolf, campaign manager and executive director of Our Children MN. “We are thrilled that the Page Amendment was introduced in the Senate today with bipartisan support. Our legislative champions will not stop until Minnesotans have the opportunity to vote to pass the Page Amendment.”
The bill will update the language of the state’s constitutional education provision, Section 1 of Article XIII. The proposed language is:
Section 1. All children have a fundamental right to a quality public education that fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state. It is a paramount duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right. The duty of the state established in this section does not infringe on the right of a parent to choose for their child a private, religious, or home school as an alternative to public education.
The Page Amendment was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 15, 2021, by Representative Hodan Hassan.
Our Children MN is an organization working to inform Minnesotans of the state’s education gaps and to build support to pass the Page Amendment. Learn more about the Page Amendment at https://ourchildrenmn.com/.
Bill Authors in the Senate
Senator Michelle Benson (31), John Hoffman (36), Jeff Howe (13)