All public school children must have equal access to a high quality education regardless of where they live in Minnesota.

Legislative Update  
A c ommunication for education advocates in SEE districts.
January 25, 2019  
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What is happening at the Capitol
It was a short week at the Capitol as offices closed on Monday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.  The education committees are gearing up more slowly, focusing on informational meetings and haven't begun hearing bills yet. That will change next week.

On Tuesday, the House Education Finance Committee and the House Education Policy Committee held a joint committee meeting on the topic of mental health and youth.  One-half of all chronic mental illness begins by age 14, three-quarters by the age of 24.  Thus, schools are on the front line in dealing with mental illness and struggle to meet the increasing needs of students suffering with mental illness.   This presentation by the National Alliance on Mental Illness  (NAMI) provides in-depth information on children's mental health including how prevalent mental illness is, how it impacts student's lives, the services available, and the lack of capacity to meet the urgent needs across the state.  ( Read more.) ( Video of the very informative committee meeting.)   The House has already proposed funding for a number of grant programs to address mental health in Minnesota schools. ( See the first three proposals in HF2. The Senate is likely to offer funding for similar grant programs as well .   Unfortunately , the magnitude of the mental health needs across the state will likely far exceed the level of grant funding the state can provide.  

The House Education Policy Committee also took a day to look at boosting student achievement by fostering developmental relationships in schools, particularly between students and the adults in the building. Kent Pekel, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Search Institute, discussed how research is showing that developmental relationships can change the trajectory of the lives of at-risk students and increase academic success for all students. Also speaking to the committee was Angela Jerabek, Executive Director of the Barr Center. She was a school counselor in St. Louis Park, here in Minnesota.  She became very frustrated when she could not reduce the number of classes 9 th-grade students failed, an indicator that correlates to whether a student will graduate.  She applied for a federal grant to explore a teacher-led model of building relationships between students and teachers, which ultimately proved to improve academic performance and outcomes for students. That work is now known as the BARR model and has been implemented in over 100 schools and 15 states, including in two SEE districts - North Branch High School and South St. Paul Secondary. I haven't seen any legislation around this work, but this might be another area where grant funding is provided for schools to adopt the BARR or similar model.  
Documentation:  ( Pekel's Presentation) ( Pekel's Presentation in PowerPoint with detailed notes at bottom) ( BARR Model Presentation) ( BARR Model Handout 1) ( BARR Model Handout 2)

Current law prohibits starting the school year before Labor Day in Minnesota. Many school districts would like the flexibility to start earlier for a variety of reasons such as increasing student achievement and aligning college and high school schedules so students can take more courses that provide both high school and college credit. Some schools have been given authority to start before Labor Day to pilot programming and are seeing success. However, the State Fair and the hospitality industry, especially Minnesota resorts, have lobbied hard against making this change statewide, fearful of a very negative impact on their businesses. Representative Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) has authored HF314, a bill that will allow schools to start the school year before Labor Day beginning in the 2020-21 school year. As Rep. Youakim is chair of the House Education Policy Committee, she will most likely schedule a hearing on this bill and school districts will have the chance to weigh in on this issue once again.

There is a link to SEE's education-related bill summary at the top of this email if you are interested.
If you have any questions or comments, please don't hesitate to contact me. 


Deb Griffiths
Schools for Equity in Education
Director of Communications and Community Outreach
For the political junkies
The Minnesota legislature has a great website for all things legislative.  

Under the legislation tab on the SEE website, you can find legislative information more geared to education-related matters.