An E-12 education bill the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate passed Tuesday — totaling 30 million dollars to beef up literacy programs in public schools — could hardly be more different than House Democrats’ plan to add three billion dollars to public school funding over four years.  Republican Senator Roger Chamberlain from Lino Lakes says half of Minnesota third-graders can’t read at grade level — and if a child can’t read, little else matters:

“Why are we in this spot?   It’s not because we don’t fund (education).  We haven’t got the ‘wheels’ right.”

But Saint Paul Democrat Erin Murphy says:

“I worry a great deal about pumping 30 million dollars into literacy, when there aren’t adequate educators or ESP’s (education support professionals) in our schools to actually carry out the function.”

Education funding will be an area of intense debate between Democrats and Republicans in the final two-and-a-half weeks of the legislative session.