Rep. Peterson's Newsletter 6/1

Jun 1, 2012 Issues: Education

Many mementos from schools across the 7th District are displayed in
my Washington, D.C. office. 
Pictured above are just a few from my collection.

Dear Friends,

This week's newsletter will celebrate the students and educators in the 7th District.  As the school year comes to a close, we seek to congratulate the students who will be graduating this year on their achievements. Whether it is from a public or private school, or the countless students who have finished their homeschooling curriculum, I know our fine students will do well in their lives as they move forward.  Graduations across the district are proving to be the celebration they should be, and I am excited to witness the impact our youth will make in the future.


Collin C. Peterson
Minnesota 7th District

Education in the 7th District

This time of year, many students and family members are attending graduation ceremonies across Minnesota.  In particular, the 7th District is home to many of Minnesota's highly regarded public and private colleges and universities as well as dozens of Minnesota's public K-12 schools. 

More than fifteen higher education colleges and universities are located in the 7th District.  It is always a pleasure to speak with the many students and educators who visit with me each year.  In fact, I recently met with University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler to discuss the importance of maintaining our state's high standards of excellence in education.  I also met with Minnesota State University Moorhead President Edna Szymanski to discuss Pell Grants and the importance of low student loan interest rates.  Times have changed, but our emphasis on education remains strong. 

One Room Schoolhouse - District #115
Pictured in early 1900's in Clay County
Photo courtesy of the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County

The photo above is the one room school house I attended in Elmwood Township with my sisters and cousins when I was eight years old.  The one room school house has become an image synonymous with Minnesota roots.  No doubt many of us have attended or visited one with our families or on a school field trip.  Early pioneers in Minnesota understood the importance of education, and many communities were ambitious to create means of education for their youth.  At one point, Stearns County alone was home to more than 170 common school districts - most children could walk to a county school within close distance of their family's farm. 

Today we remember the one room schoolhouse as not merely an educational facility of the past, but also a community tradition.  The one room schoolhouse in District 115 was closed when I was in fifth grade with only 7 students enrolled, and from there I moved to Glyndon to attend classes.  Below I am listed in the school census for District 115 in Elmwood Township.  In 1952, my name appeared 28th when listed alphabetically with the 37 other students who attended my school.  I would like to thank the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County for providing this census as well as the petition that established the school - I was able to see my great grandfather's signature among the petitioners that established this schoolhouse in 1910.

National Teacher Appreciation Week

 "Above all things I hope the education of the common people will be attended to; convinced that on their good sense we may rely with most security for the preservation of a due degree of liberty."

--Thomas Jefferson

Teachers across America make a difference in the lives of millions of children.  Earlier this month, we celebrated our nation's educators through Teacher Appreciation Week.  If you have not yet had the opportunity, please take a moment to thank a teacher who has impacted you or your children.

MN State Dept of Higher Ed:

Grants and Loans Enrollment is Open

As the summer nears, the enrollment for grant-eligible programs has begun. You can find more information on available Federal Title Programs (ESEA) and application processes at

For those in the 7th District who have chosen to pursue avenues of higher learning, the Minnesota State Department of Higher Education has also provided ample information and resources to meet most needs. This documentation can be found at

UMN Morris Student Selected for Library of Congress Fellowship

On 6/1, I had the pleasure of meeting with Sara Butterfass (Howard Lake), a recent graduate of the University of Minnesota Morris.  Sara is one of only 38 college students selected to serve as a Library of Congress Junior Fellow this summer.  During her fellowship, Sara will work with the Preservation, Research and Testing Division in managing their material.  Overall, the program focuses on increasing access to the Library's collections and raising awareness of its digital-preservation programs. 

Minnesota Artists Recognized by the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress has an exhibit that replicates Thomas Jefferson's original personal library, used as the basis for the Library's current collection.

The Library of Congress recently announced that new recordings will added to the National Recording Registry in honor of the Registry's 10th anniversary.  These sound recordings will be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures for generations to come, bringing the total number of recordings to 350.  Minnesotans may be happy to note the recognition of Minneapolis natives Prince and Charles M. Schultz.  Included in the additions this year are "Purple Rain," the soundtrack from Prince's 1984 movie debut, as well as the score written for the adapted screenplay "A Charlie Brown Christmas," based on Charles M. Schulz's famous "Peanuts" daily newspaper comic strip.

Update from the Agriculture Committee

The Senate’s version of the farm bill will likely be debated on the Senate floor the week of June 4, and the House Agriculture Committee continues our work on a bill that we can consider in the Committee after Senate passage. I remain optimistic that we will be able to finish work on the farm bill before the current bill expires.

The feedback I received during last week’s district farm bill meetings will be very useful as we move ahead with the House version of the farm bill. I appreciate all those that took the time to attend the meetings.

Some more coverage of last week’s meetings:


Redwood Falls Gazette

West Central Tribune

Minnesota Farm Guide

USDA Forecasts Record Ag Exports

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday released USDA’s third-quarter forecast showing U.S. farm exports reaching the second-highest level on record at $134.5 billion in fiscal year 2012.

“With the release of today’s most recent export forecast, we can expect American agriculture to remain a bright spot in our nation’s economy in the months to come, supporting more than 1 million American jobs in communities across our country. Since 2009, our farmers and ranchers are set to deliver three of the four highest levels of U.S. agricultural exports in our nation’s history. In fiscal year 2012, the latest forecast sees $134.5 billion in U.S. farm exports, the second highest level ever and $3.5 billion greater than the previous forecast,” Vilsack said.

On 5/25, I met with Kurt Thompson, a Program Officer of the Southwest Initiative Foundation. 
We spoke about the USDA Rural Microenterprise Assistance Program (RMAP) and its importance in southwest Minnesota as well as whether the program will be reauthorized in the next Farm Bill.

On the Floor This Week

This was another busy week at the House of Representatives.  The House passed the Intelligence Reauthorization. This bipartisan bill provides policy guidance and authorizes classified funding levels for 17 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, the National Security Agency, and the Defense Intelligence Agency, and for other intelligence-related activities of the federal government. 

The House also passed the Military Construction-Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill. The bill provides the nation’s military with the infrastructure needed to house, train, and equip military personnel, provides for the quality of life of our troops and their families, and maintains our strong military base structure. It also funds veterans’ benefits and programs to ensure that all veterans receive the services they need and deserve.

Finally, the House passed a five-year reauthorization for the FDA programs that will help fund the agency's review of prescription drugs and medical devices.   This bipartisan bill ensures that Americans have access to crucial medicines and medical devices, improves access to new and innovative medicines and devices, helps prevent and mitigate drug shortages and reduces drug costs for consumers by speeding the approval of lower-cost generic drugs.

Visiting Constituents in the 7th