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Walking the Walk

Phil Gurbada's 110-mile trek last week didn't earn him a meeting with Gov. Jesse Ventura, but plenty of other people turned out to support his effort to draw attention to the financial plight of Minnesota's public schools.

The 49-year-old middle school principal set out on Oct. 11 from Royalton, Minn., on a southward hike that would take him to Minneapolis and St. Paul on the fifth day of his journey. Everywhere he went, crowds turned out to cheer. Some educators, politicians, teachers, and students even walked a stretch with him.

Armed with a 20-pound backpack, a cellphone, and a letter for the governor, Mr. Gurbada ended his travels in a ceremonial walk up the steps of the state Capitol in St. Paul, surrounded by reporters and well-wishers.

The governor, though, was in a previously scheduled meeting, so the principal of Royalton Middle School had to settle for dropping off an open letter urging Mr. Ventura, an Independent, and other elected officials to make "a full effort to return Minnesota to its reputation as the 'Education State' in our great nation."

A spokesman for Gov. Ventura last week disputed that the state had lost that distinction, saying that "in a lot of areas we are in the forefront."

Yet Mr. Gurbada said "stronger support" from the governor and legislature was needed. "Over half the schools in our state are holding levy referendums because they have not been adequately funded," he said last week after returning home.

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Vol. 21, Issue 8, Page 26

Published in Print: October 24, 2001, as State Journal

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