Weekly Advocate empower,educate,engage
Week Six - February 8, 2021
Complexity of Bills and Impact on School Districts
We are six weeks and over 1500 bill introductions into this legislative session. Within that there are a few bills that have gained a good deal of traction and bipartisan support. One such bill is the Teachers of Color bill. MSBA generally supports the TOC bill, however, it is important to look at the bill due to the complexity and some new requirements for school boards, districts PELSB and MDE. The infographic shared here breaks down the content of the bill.

Increase Teachers of Color Act 2021 HF 217 / SF 446
The purpose of putting some of the language in the bill into statute is to set state goals for increasing the percentage of teachers of color and American Indian teachers, and ensure all students have access to effective and diverse teachers who reflect the diversity of students. The goal of the bill is to increase the number of teachers of color or American Indian teachers by at least two percentage points per year. The bill does seek to address the serious issue impacting our classrooms and especially our BIPOC students.

The bill also adds language and requirements to the World’s Best Workforce (WBWF). The proposal requires districts’ WBWF plans to include ethnic studies curriculum, and anti-racist and culturally sustaining curriculum. Further, it establishes a geographically balanced grant program to support WBWF strategies relating to equity. The proposed bill adds definitions for “ethnic studies curriculum,” “rigorous,” “anti-racist,” “culturally sustaining,” and “institutional racism.”

As mentioned, there are several new requirements, most are for PELSB and MDE, but there are several for districts, including requiring a school board to adopt a written policy that prohibits discrimination or discipline for a teacher or principal for incorporating into curriculum contributions by persons in a protected class consistent with local collective bargaining agreements. It would require the commissioner of education to develop and maintain resources to help a district or school implement strategies to prevent and reduce discrimination; and to develop and adopt state standards for social, emotional, and cognitive development.

Other requirements include:

District advisory committee - requires district advisory committee to recommend strategies regarding curriculum and learning and work environments.

Requires PELSB to issue a Tier 3 license to a candidate who either: (1) completed a teacher preparation program from a culturally specific minority serving institution and is eligible for a teacher license in another state; or (2) completed a university teacher preparation program in another country and has taught at least two years. Requires candidate to have completed student teaching comparable to Minnesota requirements.

Requires PELSB to issue a Tier 4 license to a candidate who has teaching experience in another state and achieved tenure or completed three consecutive years of employment for at least 120 days per year with a single employer.

Eliminates the skills test requirements for Tier 4 license. Eliminates Tier 3 and Tier 4 pedagogy and content exam requirements for candidates who have completed board-approved preparation programs, and candidates who have completed preparation programs in other states where they have passed licensure examinations.

Requires testing centers to provide monthly opportunities for untimed content and pedagogy exams. Requires a candidate who has not passed a required exam after two attempts to be allowed to retake the exam for free.

For continuing contracts (districts in cities outside the first class), modifies probationary period for a teacher who has taught for three consecutive years in one state by allowing the teacher to obtain continuing contract status after serving a one-year probationary period in a Minnesota school district instead of three years.

For tenure (districts in cities of the first class) allows a district to negotiate a contract with a one-year probationary period for a teacher who has obtained tenure or completed three consecutive years of employment for at least 120 days per year with a single employer.

Requires a district or school to verify that hiring bonus is given to teacher licensed in another state who qualifies for a Tier 3 or 4 license, has moved to the economic development region where the teacher was hired, and belongs to a racial or ethnic group underrepresented among teachers compared to students in the district.

Allows a district or school to offer a bonus of $2,500 to $5,000 to an eligible teacher, and a bonus of $4,000 to $8,000 to an eligible teacher with a license in a shortage area. Requires a teacher to be paid half of the bonus when starting employment, and half after four years of service. Allows the department to conduct a pilot program to establish feasibility. Creates a special revenue fund for hiring bonuses.

Requires the Collaborative Urban and Greater Minnesota Educators of Color grants to be awarded for a two-year grant period.

Establishes grants for three types of Grow Your Own programs to develop teaching workforce that more closely reflects diverse student population and ensure equitable access to effective and diverse teachers. Allows eligible districts to apply for grants to develop, maintain, or expand residency programs. Provides requirements and allowable grant uses for programs established by a district and a teacher preparation program provider that uses a cohort model.

Allows eligible districts or Head Start programs to apply for grants to support persons of color or American Indian persons to become licensed teachers or preschool teachers. Provides allowable grant uses.

Allows school districts and charter schools to apply for grants for dual-credit “Introduction to Teaching” courses and other programs that encourage secondary school students to pursue teaching. Provides allowable grant uses. Requires the commissioner to give priority to districts or Head Start programs with the highest number or percentage of students who are of color or American Indian.

Requires PELSB to prioritize grants for efforts to induct, mentor, and retain Tier 2 or 3 teachers who are of color or American Indian, and Tier 2 or 3 teachers in licensure shortage areas. Allows grants to be awarded for up to 24 months.

Requires principal evaluations to support and improve principal’s culturally responsive leadership practices.

Requires a school district or charter school to allow an American Indian student to wear American Indian regalia, tribal regalia, or objects of cultural significance at a graduation ceremony.

Appropriates funds for the following:
• Collaborative urban and greater Minnesota educators of color grants: $6,000,000 in FY2022 and $6,000,000 in FY 2023
• Grow Your Own pathways to teacher licensure grants: $8,500,000 in FY 2022 and $8,500,000 in FY 2023
• Mentoring, induction, and retention incentive program grants for teachers of color: $3,000,000 in FY 2022 and $3,000,000 in FY 2023
• Reports on increasing percentage of teachers of color and American Indian teachers: $15,000 in FY 2022
• Equitable school enhancement grants: $3,000,000 in FY 2022 and $3,000,000 in FY 2023
• Come teach in Minnesota hiring bonuses: $350,000 in FY 2022 and $350,000 in FY 2023
• American Indian teacher preparation grants: $600,000 in FY 2022 and $600,000 in FY 2023
• Expanded concurrent enrollment grants: $500,000 in FY 2022 and $500,000 in FY 2023
• Teacher recruitment marketing campaign: $500,000 in FY 2022 and $500,000 in FY 2023

This bill has a total cost, or investment, of $55 million including loan forgiveness and student teacher grant in Higher Education. Thus far the bill has been heard in the House Education Finance and Policy committees. It has not received a hearing in the Senate as yet.

The Governor's Budget Bill
It is not new news that Minnesota is experiencing a budget deficit. The upcoming February Forecast is expected to be more favorable than the November Forecast, but it will no doubt still be in the negative.

During last Friday's Chat Room, several asked for more detail on the Governor's budget bill, so we wanted to detail more here. His proposal is built off the state generating an additional $1.66 billion in tax revenue by tapping into $1.04 billion of the budget reserve, and $130 million in the stadium reserve, as well as carry over $217 million from the current year’s budget. 

The new revenue would come from several sources. Taxing those with an income over $1 million would generate $215 million. Increasing long-term capital gains would bring in $257 million in revenue. Add in a foreign income tax ($289 million) and a corporate tax ($236 million).

As to the Governor's education proposal, he proposes spending:

• $147 million for Summer Learning Loss (surplus + Federal GEERS funds)
• $662 million for FY22/23 for a 21st Century Education and more (new revenue)

Governor Summer Package
• Prioritizing in person learning ($57.5 – membership hours)
  • Reduce class size
  • Longer hours or more days
  • Transportation
  • PPE
• School age care and youth programming ($15 million in federal funds (GEERS))
•Preschool ($20 million)
•Expand mental health services ($5 million) ($1 million) ($1 million grants)
•Enrollment loss (previously $25 million)
•Adult education ($10 million)
•College readiness opportunities ($7 million)
•Community partnerships ($10 million)
•Field trips ($10 million)
•Tutoring ($3.25 million)

21st Century Education
•1% and 2.5% ($66 and $166 per pupil ($301 million))
•Freeze special education cross-subsidy ($73)
•Buy down EL cross-subsidy ($14 million)
•Improve equalization referendum, Local Optional Rev Debt Service ($95 million)

•Full Service Community Schools ($5 million annually)
•Student support personnel (up to 325 counselors; social workers; nurses $22 per pupil or $35,000 which is greater)
•Multi-tiered systems of support ($5 million annually)
•Maintain VPK seats end other early learning ($41 million)
•Rigorous course work for BIPOC students ($5 million)
•Ethnic studies ($290,000)
•Indigenous education for all ($450,000)
•Tribal Early Education ($3.3 million)

Caring and qualified educators
•Teacher mentoring program ($5 million)
•Grow your own ($2 million)
•Career pathways ($4 million)
•Exclusionary discipline and training ($1.2 million)

MDE Leadership
Anti-bias, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Center, IT ($19 + million)
Advocacy Opportunity - Take Action
HF 4 is intended to move more quickly. The bill deals with enrollment/extended time/summer school and other activities. You can help by calling or emailing your legislators and sharing your support for:
1)   Adjusted pupil units. Recalculates general education revenue for the 2020-2021 school year (FY 21) for school districts and charter schools using the greater of the school’s pupil units for the current year or the pupil units for the 2019-2020 school year (FY 20).
2)   Onetime extended time revenue flexibility. Authorizes school districts to offer extended time programming, including summer school, during the spring and summer of calendar year 2021 according to a plan adopted by the school board. Includes added hours of instruction under this section for funding as if the hours were offered through the existing extended time program. Under current law, only hours of instruction provided through a State Approved Alternative Program (SAAP) qualify for extended time aid.