Citing a desire to pursue creative reform of education and government from outside the Legislature, Rep. Ken Nelson (DFL-Mpls) said he will retire from his House seat after the 1992 session.
"I want to create a new future," said Nelson.
Nelson's retirement will end 20 years of service in the House. He has served on a variety of committees but has left his mark in the education area. He has been chair of the Education Finance Division since 1983 and has served on the Education Committee since 1973.
As one of his final acts last month, Nelson pulled out a camera and took pictures of the division members, staff, and the audience. Division members, in turn, praised Nelson as a leader in educational policy. "Ken has led us in caring for kids in the K-12 system second to none," said Rep. Jerry Bauerly (DFL- Sauk Rapids).
Nelson said that in the last 10 years, he has seen significant reform in the quality of education in Minnesota, sending the message that "public education is here to serve the students, and not just those who are employed in it.
"We, in Minnesota, are fortunate that we have a Legislature which is always trying to improve the quality of education," he said.
Nelson believes that the establishment of the Minnesota Academic Excellence Foundation in 1983 and the development of performance-based education are Positive signs that the state is strengthening its commitment to education.
Twenty years of House service is not without its disappointments, however. Nelson said that the resistance of some teachers' unions to effective change has been a frustrating stumbling block.
"We ought to have more quality than what we have, and the resistance of some within the system itself to follow through on substantive and creative change has forced us to create alternatives," he said.
Nelson also expressed frustration with the legislative process itself, stating that "we are not always governed by quality, but too much by partisan politics."
"I remain strong with conviction that our public systems and services are not serving our citizens as well as they should be," he said, adding that he hopes he can make government more responsive by acting outside the government structure itself.