Former Viking Supreme Court Justice Speaks Education Reforms at CLC – Brainerd Dispatch | Team Cansler

BRAINERD — Speaking to an auditorium packed with fans — both during his football career with the Minnesota Vikings and during his time on the Minnesota Supreme Court — retired Judge Alan Page discussed a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the state to provide children with a quality education Offer.

With over 100 in attendance on November 9 at Central Lakes College’s Chalberg Theater, Page visited the college to speak during the Rosenmeier Forum.

Steve Wenzel, executive director of the Rosenmeier Center for State and Local Government, said the organization was working to bring Page to CLC to discuss his proposed changes to the Minnesota Constitution, known as the Page Amendment, which would ensure that Children in the state receive a quality education and not just an opportunity for education. Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle acted as the host of the event.

Page is a Notre Dame University graduate and played soccer for Notre Dame. In 1967 he signed with the Minnesota Vikings and distinguished himself as one of the greats of the team. In 1971, Page was named the National Football League Defensive Player of the Year and the NFL’s Most Valuable Player, the first defensive player ever to receive the honor. He also played in four Super Bowls.

Page attended the University of Minnesota Law School, graduating in 1978 while still playing in the NFL. In 1992 he sought and won election to the Minnesota Supreme Court. He was the first African American on the Minnesota Supreme Court and one of the very few associate justices to join the court initially by election rather than by appointment by the governor.

Page retired in 2015 after the court reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.

At the Rosenmeier event, Page said the idea for the change arose from discussions with Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis President and CEO Neel Kashkari about a study that identified Minnesota as the country with the greatest educational disparities.

“We looked at the foundation of Minnesota’s education law, which is the Minnesota Constitution, Article 13, and found that it provides for an education system,” Page said. “And when I first came to the Court, I was involved in an education funding case where the Court eventually ruled that while the Constitution provided for an education system and children had a fundamental right to an adequate system, that was not the case that they have a right to quality education.”

According to the Our Children MN website, the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution would give all children a civil right to quality public education. Our Children MN is an organization dedicated to educating Minnesotans about the state’s education gaps and building support for passage of the Page Amendment.

Retired Judge Alan Page discusses his proposed changes to the Minnesota Constitution, known as the Page Amendment, with Crow Wing County Administrator Tim Houle on Wednesday, November 9, 2022 at the CLC during the Rosenmeier Forum.

Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

“Although it’s nominally called the Page Amendment, it’s actually an amendment about children,” Page said. “About making sure that every child — no matter who it is, no matter where they’re from, what part of the state they’re from, no matter their race, their ability or disability, their economic status — all of those things. That being said, every child should have the opportunity to receive a public education that will enable him to realize his highest self.”

Article 13, Section 1 of the Minnesota Constitution, written in 1857, reads:

“Since the stability of a republican form of government depends chiefly on the intelligence of the people, it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and unified system of public schools. The legislature must provide, through taxation or otherwise, such provisions as will ensure a thorough and efficient system of public schools throughout the state.”

The updated education clause would read:

“All children have a fundamental right to a high-quality public education that prepares them comprehensively for participation in the economy, democracy and society, measured against uniform, state-defined performance standards. It is a primary duty of the state to ensure quality public schools that fulfill this fundamental right. The duty of the State set forth in this section shall not affect a parent’s right to choose private, religious or home schooling for his child as an alternative to public education.”

Page said at a young age that education was empowered by his parents as a tool for a better life. He noted that young men who went away to play soccer often found their way back home after college as their focus was only on soccer and not what to do after soccer.

To break that cycle throughout his career, Page said he’s always been drawn to the classroom and the football field, telling others about the positive aspects of a quality education.

“We’re educating kids, and because the current language is systems-oriented, all our energy goes into looking at the system,” Page said. “And it’s a system that has systematically and systematically failed poor children, children of color and indigenous children. And (this change) means there is a focus on children and making sure they are given the tools to enable them to be successful.”

Page described the proposed changes to the education system as one that makes it appear that each child has their own individualized educational program.

“If you’re designing a system that educates the individual child, I think every child now has a reason to rise because you’re teaching me in a way that I can learn, as opposed to the industry model that says, ‘We pour all these kids in the pot, some are going to sink, some are going to swim, some are going to do well, some are going to do badly,'” Page said. “We are looking for a better return on this investment.”

To change the Minnesota Constitution, a majority of each chamber of the legislature must approve the measure, and then a majority of voters must support the change in a statewide election.

Visit ourchildrenmn.com for more information about the page change.

TIM SPEIER, permanent author, can be reached on Twitter

@timmy2thyme

call 218-855-5859 or email

tim.speier@brainerddispatch.com

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