Weekly Update
April 30, 2021
Two weeks to tackle teacher shortages
Since 2018, Aligned has prioritized policies that give school districts and charters more flexibility when hiring faculty. For the second year in a row in Missouri, we have championed the expansion of the Visiting Scholars program to allow schools to grant temporary teaching certificates in hard-to-staff schools or hard-to-fill subject areas. We view this legislation as our "teacher shortage" bills.

Does Missouri have a shortage problem?

According to data published by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education:
  • Initial teaching certificates issued each year in Missouri has declined from 5,444 to 3,900 over the five-year period of 2014-2019,
  • In recent years, traditional educator preparation programs have seen a substantial decline in enrollment from 14,139 in 2010-11 to 8,214 in 2017-18,
  • The 2020 Missouri Teacher Shortage Report, presented to the State Board of Education in January of 2021, showed that seven of the top 12 shortage areas were in secondary science and mathematics. Teaching certificates issued in those same content areas in 2020 will not fulfill the current need.

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) says the shortages are "real, large and growing, and worse than we thought" and that it hurts high poverty schools the most. 

EPI released its first report in the 'The Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market' series  and found that "the fact that the shortage is distributed so unevenly among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds challenges the U.S. education system's goal of providing a sound education equitably to all children."

Low teacher pay makes it hard for school districts to attract talent. Until states find more funding to inject into their systems, they must rely on securing bandaids and removing barriers to mitigate the shortages.

Colorado is working to pass legislation that provides $13 million in new funding for recruitment strategies. Illinois is trying to eliminate the current requirement for prospective teachers to pass written performance tests, and the Michigan Department of Education is granting waivers to allow special education teachers to fill spots in areas outside their speciality.

What can we do in Missouri?

With only two weeks of session in Missouri to go, we urge lawmakers to prioritize legislation that includes the Visiting Scholars expansion language which will give local school leaders more flexibility to fill critical shortage areas.
HB 137 (Richey), a bill that addresses the funding inequity between charter and district schools, advanced from Senate Education committee this week.
Missouri News
Aligned Priorities

Bills moving...

Real-World Learning

HB 1304 (Henderson), a bill that ensures businesses are protected from liability claims when hosting real world learning opportunities was reported out of the Committee on House-Rules Legislative Oversight on 4/26. 

SB 152 now includes the Visiting Scholars language that allows the State Board of Education to grant temporary teaching certificates for hard-to-staff schools or hard-to-fill subject areas. That bill was voted out of the House Committee and Elementary and Secondary Education this week and will be heard in House Rules - Legislative Oversight on Monday (5/3) at 5 p.m. 

Early Care and Education

Language from HB 1071 (Shields) - a bill that extends the sunset on the Quality Assurance Report is now on SB 152 (Hoskins) and was added to SB 457 (Rizzo) which passed out of House Committee on Emerging Issues and is scheduled for a hearing in House Rules - Administrative Oversight on Monday (5/3) at 12:00 p.m.

Language to allow school districts to claim state-aid for half-day Kindergarten programs has been amended to HB 101 (Pollitt) and SB 152 (Hoskins).

There were no changes to legislation to increase state aid for Pre-K (HB 973) or provide counties with local authority to seek voter-approved property tax increases for early childhood (HB 865). These provisions will likely not advance this session. 

Innovative Practices

Language that creates the competency-based education task force is included in HB 624 and SB 152. And language that creates a competency-based education grant program is included in SB 152. Both of these bills have enough time to make it over the finish line if legislators prioritize education legislation.

You can find a full breakdown in our Aligned Capitol Report.

Other education legislation

HCS HB 137 (Richey) which fixes a glitch in the funding mechanism for distributing to charter schools their share of local revenue was passed out of Senate Committee on Education on 4/29. Senator Tony Luetkemeyer is the Senate handler.

HB 733 (Patterson), a bill that establishes the "Workforce Diploma Program" within the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development to allow vendors to provide services offering high school credits for degree completion, was passed by Senate Education by a 8-0 vote. The committee also amended this bill to include a provision that requires the state board of education to develop a statewide plan for career and technical education certificates and requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to convene work groups to develop written model curriculum frameworks that may be used by districts. 

For more details access the Aligned Priority Tracking Report
Legislative News

Here are a few toplines from the activity this week:
  • Census data released this week shows that there were approximately 165,986 more Missourians in 2020 than in 2010. The data indicated that the state's population was 6,154,913 as of April 1, 2020. The modest growth will have no impact on the number of congressional seats awarded to Missouri.
  •  The Missouri Independent reported that the Governor's Office would not release the resignation letter involving the immediate departure of Department of Health and Senior Services Director Randall Williams despite a Sunshine record request for the document. 
  • A legislative storm is brewing over election reform measures pending in the Senate. This week the Senate Committee on Local Government and Elections conducted a hearing on two House bills that were contentiously debated on the House floor but eventually passed in that chamber. Both bills would reinstate a mandate that a voter produce a governmental photo identification to vote
  • This week, the Senate spent over six hours debating SB 98, a multi-issue gaming bill sponsored by Senator Denny Hoskins (R-Warrensburg). The bill would have permitted video lottery machines in certain retail establishments and legalized sports wagering in Missouri. Hoskins was forced to shelf the bill when Senator Mike Moon (R-Lawrence County) managed to attach an amendment that would mandate a public vote on the expansion of gaming. 
Read all the details in our Aligned Capitol Report.

For an extra deep dive, read the weekly report from GovWatch.

Budget Update

On Wednesday of this week, the Senate worked early into the morning to get its version of the State's $35.1 billion budget completed. An amendment to fund Medicaid expansion failed by a 14-20 vote.There were fireworks early on when Senator Bob Onder (R-St. Charles) offered an amendment on HB 4 attempting to remove $1.4 million from bi-state development, the group that operates the St. Louis metropolitan public transit system. The move was in direct response to the agency's ban on the carrying of firearms on their bus and light rail system. Senator Onder has attempted to pass legislation repealing this ban for years. The amendment was eventually voted down and HB 4 was approved. 

The House and Senate will meet next week to iron out the $3.1 billion in differences between the two budget proposals. The state's budget, by constitutional directive must be passed by next Friday, May 7th. 
Photo Credit: Kansas Office of the Governor
Kansas News

Legislative Update 

Kelly approves Kansas Promise Act 

We are thrilled to see Governor Laura Kelly signed into law a bill, HB 2064 , to provide scholarships for students seeking associate degrees and career and technical education certifications. Both sides of the aisle supported this bill as it highlights the need to align business with education further. The act assigns administrative duties to the State Board of Regents (Board).

In a press release issued by Cowley College, Governor Laura Kelly stated her gratitute to the Kansas Legislature for its work to provide resources that will ensure Kansas students have access to programs to build skills and said, "This scholarship program honors my administration's promise to invest in our students and in our businesses to create opportunities for all Kansans, in every corner of the state." 

Senate Education Committee Chairwoman Molly Baumgardner, R-Louisburg stated that the act will be transformative for Kansans and said, "Those currently without work and the under-employed will receive the skills training they need for Kansas jobs that are in high demand and offer solid wages. I know that businesses throughout the state that have been hard hit by COVID will benefit from a newly trained workforce which will renew and strengthen our communities."

According to the bill summary, the scholarship program is subject to appropriations and has a $10 million annual cap for fiscal years 2022 and 2023. Starting in FY 2024, the program cap cannot exceed 150% of the expenditures in the previous year

Scholarships will include the aggreated amount of tuition and fees minus all other aid awarded to a student. 

The bill prioritizes scholarships for eligible students whose family household incomes are less than or equal to the following amounts: 
  • $100,000 for a family of two; 
  • $150,000 for a family of three; and 
  • $150,000, plus $4,800 per additional family member beyond three. 
Eligible students whose family household income exceeds these limits are eligible for scholarships under the Act only if scholarship money remains after awarding all other prioritized scholarships.
Leadership and communication rank as the most "in-demand" skills by employers.
The High Demand for Durable Skills 
Our national partner, America Succeeds, published an early analysis of Durable Skills this month. 'Durable skills' are the 'soft skills' learners need for success throughout their entire career and the ones that required by every industry from entry-level positions to C-suite professions like:
  • communicationunderstanding how to exchange and manage information, 
  • critical thinking- creating informed ideas and effective solutions,
  • collaborationdeploying teamwork and connection,
  • leadership - directing efforts and delivering results.
By analyzing 82 million job postings from the past two years, America Succeeds learned that 7 of the top 10 requested skills are Durable Skills and 52.5 million jobs demanded durable skills.

Read the preliminary research to see the breakdown by occupation. 

"The need for inclusive, soft skills-based education and hiring was apparent long before the pandemic but COVID-19 has greatly accelerated existing trends," said Tim Taylor, co-founder and president of America Succeeds. "We launched this unique research initiative to start a national conversation around Durable Skills, so that schools understand the importance of educating for them and corporate leaders recognize the urgent need to partner with the education system to solve their workforce challenges."

Learn how you can be part of this initiative.
Enjoy the weekend!

All our best,

Torree Pederson
(913) 484-4202

Linda Rallo
(314) 330-8442