The Weekly Advocate


This is not a new problem. ... Now is the time to act!

"Minnesota should make sure it only requires what the federal government does. No extra requirements should be added."
 "This is the largest unfunded mandate."
2010 Review of
Education-Related Mandates

"Of the 45 Minnesota statutes we studied that specifically govern special education, 19 contain at least one provision that exceeds federal requirements. Plus, nearly 75 percent of the 57 Minnesota rules we analyzed contained provisions that exceed federal requirements."
March 2013
Office of Legislative Auditor - Program Evaluation Division
"About ten years ago, we conducted legislative history research on the state laws in this area and discovered that the Minnesota legislature had actually intended to follow - not exceed - federal requirements."
Peter Martin,  
MSBA general counsel,
Knutson, Flynn & Deans
Quick Links
Legislative Update
Monday, November 5, 2018

Senate Education Policy Meeting on  Paperwork Reduction for Special Education
Is it time to review Minnesota mandates that exceed federal requirements?
Senator Eric Pratt opened the Senate Education Policy Committee meeting Thursday morning with an aura of optimism , recalling how he has long asked for concrete suggestions on how to reduce special education paperwork. Earlier this summer, the New Ulm Public Schools special education team responded to MSBA's request for ideas with six proposals to reduce paperwork. Sen. Pratt invited the New Ulm's special education team to present their ideas to the committee.   
In their opening remarks, the team made sure to highlight the focus is on time spent working with special education students and not working on paperwork that can often be redundant. "We're not talking about taking away any of the services," New Ulm Supt. Jeff Bertrang told the senators. "We're trying to take away the paperwork so teachers who are licensed a nd qualified can teach and give the kids the services they're supposed to."    
New Ulm Special Services Coordinator Irina Soboleva called the paperwork an "unbearable burden" where more often than not, special education teachers spend lunch breaks, prep time and much of their personal time working on required paperwork. "The focus has shifted from meeting the needs of the students we serve to meeting paperwork requirements," Soboleva said. 
Last month, MSBA asked school board chairs and district superintendents if they agreed with New Ulm's six proposals. Nearly one-third of school districts responded and overwhelmingly, 95 percent agreed. MSBA is asking you to let your voice be heard. Please see the links to the left to participate.
Other testifiers applauded the New Ulm effort and pointed out a b yproduct of aligning special education paperwork with federal requirements would help to reduce teacher burnout. Paperwork is frequently, if not always, mentioned as a contributing factor to a special educat ion teacher leaving the classroom.    
"This committee is examining possible ways to remove  
compl exity , increase efficiency and reduce administrative and paperwork burdens on school personnel," said Peter Martin, general c ounsel for MSBA. "MSBA not only applauds and supports this work , we would submit that this work is now imperative."   
At a time when funding for special education is not adequate, alternative solutions must be considered. And quite possibly, the state will need to compromise in order to reduce some expenses. Sen. Pratt concluded the meeting with hopes of having bills introduced in the 2019 session. "We can't just look at it as cost-savings," he said. "We have to look at how policy decisions we have made in the past impact costs today." 
Minnesota Department of Education has released the  
Special Education Cross Subsidies Fiscal Year 2017 Report.  
District-by-district runs are included in the appendix.

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