A Communication for Education Advocates in SEE Districts - February 28, 2020
Check out Brad's Blog and Twitter for more details on what is happening at the Capitol!
What is happening at the Capitol?
The state’s budget surplus grew to $1.5 billion, still mostly one-time dollars that will not support on-going spending.  Read more.

The Senate Republicans have a leadership team of seven Senators. We met with Senator Karin Housley (R-Stillwater) this week at a SEE Day at the Capitol as she represents the Forest Lake school district, which was participating in the Capitol visit. We are strongly advocating for the one-time safe school aid of $30 million, $34 per pupil, to become permanent so schools can hire support staff such as social workers and counselors to address the rising mental health needs that students are experiencing. We also are advocating for increased equalization aid, which will reduce the high cost of school levies in low-property wealth districts through property tax relief. Sen. Housley shared with the group that earlier in the day, the leadership team, which she is a part of, met, and safe school aid was becoming a top priority for the session. Also, Senator Roger Chamberlain, also a member of the leadership team and Chair of the Tax Committee, is making equalization a high priority. Progress is being made, but we need to keep the pressure on. Let your legislators know how important it is to get permanent safe school aid and increased equalization during this session.  

The Governor’s Policy Bill – HF3186 - Youakim (DFL-Hopkins)/SF3393 - Clausen (DFL-Apple Valley)
Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) presented the Governor’s policy bill in the House on Wednesday. Updated information on bills of interest can be found on SEE’s Education Legislation web page . See detailed information copied from the SEE web page on the Governor’s policy bill below.

The bill is organized in four articles. Below you will find just a few highlights from each article. 

Article 1: A World Class Education for Every Student
  • Adds a half-credit requirement in physical education and eliminates the science elective by requiring a course in earth and space science in high school. Concerns were expressed that this would further limit high school students from exploring their interests through elective credit coursework. Also, hundreds of students are currently able to take agriculture career and technical education (CTE) in food chemistry and animal science that fulfills the science elective. That opportunity would be lost. 
  • Promotes culturally responsive, inclusive, and respectful learning and work environments for students, staff, families and community by modifying the World’s Best Workforce and the Achievement & Integration laws.

Article 2: Safe and Nurturing Schools for Every Student
  • Clarifies that schools must provide social-emotional learning (SEL) to students. Directs MDE to develop and adopt state-level resources and standards for SEL, which school districts may use.
  • Requirements to move schools towards nonexclusionary discipline policies to reduce suspensions and other actions that remove the student from the classroom or school. Prohibits suspensions or expulsions of children in public prekindergarten programs.
  • Establishes respectful treatment policies for students who have unpaid lunch debt; students cannot be stigmatized or prohibited from participating in any school activity.

Article 3: Qualified Teachers for Every Student
  • Sets a statewide goal for increasing the percentage of teachers of color and American Indians by at least two percentage points a year. 
  • Allows Tier 1 teachers to be part of the bargaining unit.
  • Eliminates the pathway for Tier 2 teachers to become tenured Tier 3 and Tier 4 teachers. Currently, they must satisfy all requirements in Tier 1 and Tier 2 and have three years of successful teaching experience. With a severe teacher shortage, this could make it even harder to get quality teachers in classrooms around the state. 
  •  Eliminates the basic skills test from teacher licensure.
  • Adds Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) and Adult Basic Education (ABE) teachers to the continuing contract, which, in many cases, will increase their pay.
  • Requires teachers and principals to be evaluated on their cultural responsiveness as part of their continuing development and evaluations. 

Article 4: Updating Definitions and Timelines (mostly technical)
  • Modifies the time families must respond to an offer of open enrollment if they applied after January 15, from 45 days to 15 days.
  • Changes the timeline for when students must inform their school district or charter school of their intent to take PSEO courses in the next year from May 30 in the prior year to May 30 for fall term.
As always, if you have any question or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Regards,

Deb

Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education (SEE)
Director of Communications and Community Outreach
612-309-0089