State would cover private school tuition under Minnesota Senate GOP bill

The measure has failed to gain support in the DFL-led House of Representatives in recent years and faces an uphill climb this year.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain - Parents bill of rights
Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, on Monday, Feb. 14, 2022, speaks with reporters at the Minnesota Capitol about a slate of bills Republicans put forward to ensure parents were up to date on what students are taught in Minnesota public schools.
Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service
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ST. PAUL — A Minnesota Senate panel on Monday, Feb. 21, voted 5-4 to advance a proposal to let parents use state funds to pay for their children's private or parochial school tuition.

Members of the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee narrowly approved the bill after its author said the plan would improve outcomes for under-performing students and increase choices for parents. The bill's opponents, meanwhile, said it could spur underfunding of Minnesota's public schools, which the state is constitutionally required to pay for.

“One size does not fit all and whatever the parents believe is best for their child, the parent should have the ability and opportunity to do just that,” bill author Sen. Roger Chamberlain, R-Lino Lakes, said.

Under the proposal, a student who attended public school for one semester could transfer to a private school the following year and the state funds that would typically apply to a public school's budget would transfer to the private school.

Democrats on the committee raised concerns about the lack of accountability built into the system to ensure the state funds would yield better education outcomes. And they said students in public schools could be set up for better outcomes if lawmakers sent more money to those schools.


"For the record, this is opposed and we need to put more funds into Minnesota public schools," Sen. Charles Wiger, DFL Maplewood, said before listing the parent and education groups that submitted letters of opposition.

The proposal faces an uphill climb at the Capitol as Democrats who control the House of Representatives and the governor's office have said they oppose it.

Several incumbent state legislators, particularly in the Senate, edged out competitors with more extreme views on COVID-19, election security and more.

Follow Dana Ferguson on Twitter  @bydanaferguson , call 651-290-0707 or email

Dana Ferguson is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. Ferguson has covered state government and political stories since she joined the news service in 2018, reporting on the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the divided Statehouse and the 2020 election.
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