Both the Senate and the House have approved their education plan and the Education Conference Committee has been appointed to negotiate and develop the final education plan for Minnesota. View the Committee members.
Here’s a look at the big issues at play:
Stuck at ‘1&1’ or less, the proposed investments in the basic formula are still too low heading into conference committee. Several legislators during their respective floor debates said that while they’re voting for the bill today they expect it to come back from conference committee spending more on the formula. MREA surveyed its members to see what ‘1&1’ means for them. See the survey results.
If the formula is going to have a chance of 3&3 we need to step up the pressure in the last two weeks of session.
To help, education groups led by Parents United are holding a news conference on Monday morning. The ask: Education needs the Governor’s $694 million investment in E-12 programs.
The Governor is trying to drum up support for his universal preschool program at $342 million. The Senate would put another $65 million over the next two years on top of the $24 million spent on School Readiness this biennium. The House did put $9.5 million into School Readiness, but is weighted toward Pathway I scholarships with a $30 million increase. Funding for Head Start is in the mix as well.
MREA has consistently said on the record this session that we think using School Readiness is the most practical way to build pathways to preschool that are supported by many local community partners. MREA has consistently said that a Pathway I scholarship strategy is insufficient to build and sustain quality capacity in rural communities. MREA supports plans to get all low income youth and families a free and convenient opportunity for age-appropriate early learning.
The Senate bill contains the only Facilities proposal. The idea of expanding Alternative Facilities authority to all districts has bi-partisan support throughout the Capitol complex. That said, at $41 million in FY 17 the proposal is competing heavily with a host of important proposals and is by no means a done deal. This is a fiscal reform measure whose opportunity for passage has arrived after decades of individual districts, now 25, approaching the legislature on their own to get this basic authority. However, resistance to school board levy authority runs deep in some corners and we should expect to see that emerge in the next two weeks.
The legislature spent a significant amount of time discussing problems with licensure requirements, but didn’t plan to bring much to conference committee. That was until Rep. Dean Urdahl (GOP Grove City) added an amendment on the House floor that would allow districts to request standard licenses on behalf of successful probationary teachers regardless of their passage of MTLE exams. The Board of Teaching would be required to issue the standard license in this instance.
MREA and many others has asked for MTLE flexibility so several years to little avail. The Urdahl amendment is a functional solution to the problem of the MTLEs or composite ACT scores. The Board of Teaching is under review by the Office of the Legislative Auditor. They’re also in court as several out of state candidate are suing them for not issuing them standard licenses.
A message for legislators, if a local district, after working with a teacher for three years wants to keep that teacher they should be able to do that. There’s no data to support the MTLE cuts scores as a measure of teacher effectiveness. It’s time for local, common sense solution since the powers that be have admired the problem for several years. Support the Urdahl amendment.
American Indian Education
Each body has something in conference committee for improving funding for American Indian Education. The Governor would spend $20 million to Expand Success for the Future to over 120 districts who serve 20 or more AMI students. The Governor would improve funding for the Bureau of Indian Education school too. The Senate has a scaled back version of the Governor’s plan at $5 million total. The House would add $700,000 each year for additional SftF grants.
MREA has actively pursued this funding and is advocating an investment as close to the Governor’s plan as possible. The state needs to better support over 19,000 kids facing the worst achievement gap in Minnesota.
There are many other issues at stake for greater Minnesota districts. Several of whom have worked on initiatives this session. Now is the time to check in with your legislative sponsors and the conference committee members to let them know where you stand on these issues.
View MREA’s side-by-side comparison for issues of interest in the conference committee.