Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker presented the details of the Governor’s 55 page policy bill last week. MDE’s policy bill includes a change to require earth science to be earned in place of a current science elective.

Several groups including MREA testified in opposition to this change, citing the need to preserve options and relevant course work for students, especially those on a career track on not bound for four-year colleges. Learn more about the science changes.

There were a series of hot education topics being discussed in both the Senate and House Education Policy committees:

  • Senate E-12 Policy focused on the achievement gap and heard bills regarding elementary teacher professional development in reading instruction, and early learning scholarships for disadvantaged children under the age of six.
  • House E-12 Policy heard the Governor’s bills regarding education and teacher licensing policy, non-exclusionary discipline, lunch shaming, required radon testing, student athlete concussion prevention, and preventing sexual assault with required consent education in grades 8-12.  Programs to increase the number of teachers of color and funding for ELL were bills heard in House Ed Finance.

What’s at Play

Here is a quick overview of what’s being introduced as legislation:

  • Student Discipline: The House Education Policy Committee worked on several bills relating to student discipline, a controversial topic.
  • Student Meal Balances: The House Education Policy Committee also passed a bill out of committee that would require schools to deal only with parents on matters of student meal balances. The “anti-lunch shaming” legislation is several years in the works and MSBA testified in favor of the legislation discussed last Friday.
  • PELSB Bill (HF3580): The bill, with mainly technical changes, drew no opposition. Policy Committee Chair Cheryl Youakim added the removal of basic skills tests in reading, writing and mathematics to Tier 4 teacher licenses, and the amendment and bill passed unanimously.  MREA has advocated for removing these tests that are not related to teaching abilities. The Minnesota Department of Education and PELSB presented their departmental governor bills.
  • Reading Proficiency: Sen. Carla Nelson introduced two bills to fund LETRS for all K-3 teachers in LETRS by allowing districts to use the 3.5% compensatory set aside for this purpose and one which will mandate districts use literacy incentive aid for LETRS training until all district K-3 teachers are trained. Learn more.
  • ELL: HF 448 aims to cut that the current cross subsidy in half by doubling the ELL revenue per pupil and quadrupling the concentration factor for an annual estimated investment of $89 million. Learn more.

The Senate E-12 Committee hasn’t taken up the MDE policy legislation. Senate E-12 Chair Carla Nelson is unlikely to advance the bill in the Senate this session knowing the public school organizations have serious concerns about it.