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Now is the time to make some noise and contact you legislators and key leadership.
We are waiting for the targets to be announced, which are the amount of the $1.65 billion surplus that each area of government will have to spend. The Governor is proposing $600 million for education. At this level, funding for 2%/2% increases to the basic formula, additional dollars to offset increases in the Teachers Retirement Account (TRA), reductions to the special education cross subsidy and property tax relief for school levies are possible. The education and tax targets in the House and Senate must be large enough to provide needed funding for our public schools.
Please send a email to your state senator and representative. You can find their contact information
Copy the following legislative leaders. You can cut and paste the stream below into your email. email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
The first sentence should be something like: Please work with leadership to set the education and tax targets high enough to provide essential funding for our schools.
You can add wording by looking at the first paragraph in this section or from these sample letters for ideas on what to say. Feel free to edit the wording to reflect your own voice. Keep it short and to the point. Don't over think it. What matters most is that they hear from you!
What is happening at the Capitol
education policy omnibus bills were passed out of committee this week. The House's bill was very clean without any major new mandates that will burden school districts. As Chair Sondra Erickson said, she wanted a bill that would "do no harm" and leave school districts to the job of teaching our children.
Read more and
The Senate was not as restrained, including mandates such as requiring a personal learning program for every child not reading at proficiency by third grade, the plan would continue until the student is proficient. There is quite a bit of very prescriptive language of services that a student should receive and, unfortunately, no funding to provide such services. The bill would also allow high school students to attend up to one third of their time taking credit earning coursework at nonpublic institutions without losing any rights, privileges or access to services at their local public school. Here are the bills text, summaries, and other information. I will post a side by side comparison in the coming days.
The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) released a report this week on the state-wide Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA). They found that the MCAs take a lot of time and money while producing very little useful information to support teaching and learning. Expect to see a working group formed over the summer and much discussion on this issue in the 2017 Legislative Session. Read more. The OLA Student Assessment website page with the report and more information.
HF2259 (Loon) - this bill authored by Chair Jenifer Loon of the House Education Finance Committee was heard in education policy this week. The bill would create an Office of Early Learning and Development at the Department of Administration. The new agency combines the early learning programs currently at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the quality rating and improvement system (QRIS) in the Department of Human Services. The $400 million in MDE early learning programs under its jurisdiction would be School Readiness, voluntary preK, Head Start and early learning scholarships. Loon said her intent is to better coordinate the investments in early learning programs targeted for at-risk students to close the achievement gap. Concerns were raised including that this bill was drafted without any input from the major stakeholders and that this bold change could jeopardize the successful early learning programs in favor of an emphasis on early learning scholarships. Chair Loon is a strong supporter of student choice and early learning scholarships. There is no companion bill. However, I would expect it will be in her House Education Finance omnibus bill in some form. The bill summary.
Much more happened this week down at the Capitol and you can keep up by following Brad's Blog.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.