A Communication for Education Advocates in SEE Districts - April 4, 2020
Check out Brad's Blog and Twitter for more details on what is happening at the Capitol!
What is happening?
Governor Tim Walz said on Thursday that there is a "relatively strong possibility" that students will not be returning to their schools this year. He expects to make the final decision next week. 

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) announced this week that the U.S. Department of Education granted Minnesota a broad waiver to bypass all federal assessment and accountability requirements included in the Every Student Succeeds Act for this school year. The waiver provides badly needed relief from the federal and state-mandated testing and reporting laws in these trying times. Thus, students will not take the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs) this spring.  Read more / Federal fact sheet on waivers

In the $2 trillion Coronavirus legislation passed in Washington DC and signed by the President, $30.8 billion was put in the Education Stabilization Fund (ESF). From this Congressional Research Service Memo , Minnesota is estimated to get the following funding for E-12 education.

  • Governor's Emergency ESF ($43.6 million)
  • Elementary and Secondary School ESF ($140.1 million - $126.1 million for school districts and $14.0 million to MDE). 

The law stipulates that the direct funding for school districts will be distributed through the Title-1 formula, which is based on the concentrations of poverty. 
Because the federal legislation came together so quickly, there are few details in the bill language other than the funding levels. The federal government usually stipulates that the funding must supplement new programming and services, not supplant existing programming and services. However, the allowable uses for the funding and when it will become available is still unknown. 

Since declaring a peacetime state of emergency, the Governor issued dozens of Executive Orders with two on E-12 education.  Emergency Executive Order 20-02 involved the temporary two-week closure of schools from March 18-27 so educators could design a distance learning model for their students.  Emergency Executive Order 20-19 was for the implementation of the distance learning models so students could resume their education in more safe environments.

The House and the Senate held committee meetings this week via videoconferencing and plan to continue with state business. 

Both the federal Education Stabilization Fund and the Governor's executive orders offer broad outlines, often with few specifics, and more questions than answers. It will take time to work through. Educators, families, and students need clarity and commitment from our policymakers. We will continue to look to MDE and the Legislature as they work to answer the questions and provide the stability and resources to support the monumental effort of transforming the way we teach kids.

During this first week of distance learning, SEE, along with the Minnesota Rural Educators Association (MREA), and the Association of Metropolitan School Districts (AMSD), submitted this commentary in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which was published on Tuesday. With distance learning: Be kind, be patient, be understanding.  Educators, parents and students are facing change all at once and doing their best. We’re all in it together.  

As always, check out Brad’s Blog for additional information.  
Regards,

Deb

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