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Protest during Walz briefing sparks discussion on school choice

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(KTTC) -- While Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz held a quick media briefing Thursday about the state's budget plan, he was also met by some frustrated protesters. They held up signs and surrounded the briefing area, demanding more school choice in Minnesota.

Walz did not address them directly.

The DFL and state teacher's unions oppose school choice, saying it directly damages public schooling.

"It takes money out of the public or money out of the state's budget, and sends it to private and religious schools," said Denise Specht, Education Minnesota president.

"They see this as a way as attacking public teacher unions," said Education Finance Committee Chair Rep. Jim Davnie, (DFL) Minneapolis.

They also view the initiatives as a deflection from the budget discussion, and that Republicans must shift their focus.

"Polling shows that the public is in favor of continuing to fund and support public education," said Specht. "Minnesota's public schools deserve to know what kind of funding they're going to get in the fall."

"We should be thinking about what are the strategic investments we can make now, to create better opportunity, better experiences for students in schools, and better outcomes," said Davnie.

Olmsted County Republican Party chairman Christopher Brandt, disagrees with those statements. He believes giving school funding to the child is an essential aspect of education.

"The mechanism and the mechanics are not so important. The important thing is that the tax dollars that the parents are spending should benefit their child's education," said Brandt.

He also believes the opportunity for parents to choose a path for their children is also a key element.

"If the parents decided that a school that focused more on academics, maybe did less politics, maybe reflected their values more, is something that they thought would be the best interests of their children," said Brandt.

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Noah Caplan

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