There are a few potential E-12 issues to watch as the Minnesota Legislature starts this session and navigates the unusual dynamics of conducting their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There’s a significant interest among rural legislators to address educational and community technology accessibility needs. Funding for rural broadband got a boost from Sen. Tom Bakk (Independent–Cook) and Rob Ecklund (DFL–International Falls), who introduced SF 22 and HF 14, respectively, that would fund $120 million ($60 million per year) in the community broadband access fund for the next two-year budget.
The “Page Constitutional Amendment”
Former State Supreme Court Justice Alan Page along with Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Neel Kashkari continue to push for a state constitutional amendment creating a civil right for students in Minnesota to receive a high quality education.
The proposal has the largest amount of support among House GOP members, especially those who serve on the education committees. House Speaker, Melissa Hortman (DFL Brooklyn Park) opposes the proposal and Senate Majority Leaders Paul Gazelka (GOP Nisswa) hasn’t weighed in heavily either way, and has suggested he would follow the lead of the E-12 Chair, Roger Chamberlain (GOP Lino Lakes).
Education Minnesota purportedly opposes the amendment. Page and Kashkari have been making the rounds, across the state, meeting with many stakeholder groups working to gain broader support for the initiative. Our Children MN is the newly formed campaign wing of the cause. Learn more about the amendment and the organization.
School district funding concerns and likely educational staff layoffs amidst the pandemic may open the door for those legislators who wan to revisit of Last In, First Out (LIFO) policies for school districts.
Legislators in the People of Color & Indigenous caucus (POCI) have been vocal and critical that newly hired black, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) teachers will be the first to be fired under current school district-teacher union contract.
Minnesota recently saw a Teacher of the Year laid off due to LIFO. A few years back, the House GOP majority at the time, got a new law passed that required schools to renegotiate LIFO policies, but these legislators are skeptical that any substantive change has resulted.
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