House and Senate Review Legislative Proposals

Second Week of Session

Discussions in the House Around ELL Funding and Teachers of Color Act 

House Education Finance reviewed two bills related to ELL, but did not take action on either one, and the bills were laid over for future consideration. Todd Sesker, Faribault Superintendent, testified in support and mentioned that 24.4% of his student population are EL students. Some members were surprised by the growing numbers and expressed sticker shock over the funding proposal. In their second hearing, MDE joined the committee to walk through the relevant portions of the Governor’s Supplemental Budget Proposal. No action was taken, as actual bill language has yet to be released. There will be opportunities for public testimony when there is actual language to review and comment on.

House Education Policy discussed a bill that would strengthen the Teachers of Color Act and increase funding to the program. Chair Richardson hosted a slate of 18 testifiers in support of the proposed expansion. A bipartisan vote moved the bill onto Education Finance, and Chair Davnie will review the bill this Wednesday.

Senate talks Literacy and Screen Time

Chair Chamberlain held his first hearing of the 2022 session and covered what he believes is a bipartisan issue everyone can agree upon – addressing the digital well-being of Minnesota students. During this informational hearing, committee members heard from the non-profit LiveMore ScreenLess, a state grant recipient, currently running a pilot program in Faribault schools. LiveMore ScreenLess uses a community approach to improve the digital well-being of students through trainings and resources.

The Senate’s second hearing focused on the LETRS program. Chair Chamberlain wants funding for all K-5 teachers to get LETRS training. He told the committee members that literacy should be the single focus of schools and MDE, and that the state’s goal should be a 90% literacy rate.

This week in Education Committees

Senate Education – Parental Rights and Syllabi Requirement

Both SF2575 and SF2909 propose to delineate and define parental rights. SF2575 requires schools to have a procedure for parents/guardians to review all curriculum, and this policy must be communicated to parents at the beginning of each school year. SF2909 intends to protect parents’ rights and provide more transparency to curriculum in schools. Sen. Justin Eichorn (GOP Grand Rapids) is the chief author of SF 2909 and appears poised to remove the mandate loaded section 2 from the bill during Monday’s Senate Education hearing.

SF2666 requires class syllabi for kindergarten through grade 12.

House Education Policy – Mental and Physical Health Related Bills

HF2750 requires school districts to provide menstrual product access to students and appropriates the funding needed to do so.

Both HF1883 and HF224 require schools to maintain a supply of certain drugs onsite. The first an opiate antagonist supply, an emergency drug used for overdose treatment; and the second bill an epinephrine auto-injector supply (commonly known as EpiPens).

HF1083 establishes a comprehensive school mental health service lead position and appropriates the funding needed to do so.

House Education Finance – Paraprofessional Training

Both HF378 and HF2133 provide a minimum of 16 hours of paid orientation for paraprofessionals and appropriates the funding needed to do so. In addition, HF2133 provides health insurance to school employees and increases the minimum starting salary of non-licensed school personnel.

The committee will also hear presentations from PELSB, Collaborative Urban and Greater Minnesota Educators of Color Grant Program, and Black Men Teach.