Mental Health Focus is Prominent During First Week of Session
House Education focuses on Mental Health
The first week of the 2022 legislative session was packed with House committee hearings, 35 in total. Many of the hearings, not only the education committees, opened with an acknowledgement of the fatal shooting that occurred outside of South Education Center in Richfield. Chair Davnie (Education Finance) and Chair Richardson (Education Policy) both expressed their grief and sympathy for the Richfield community. The tragedy was clearly at the forefront of legislators’ minds, and an unfortunately apt lens applied to the committees’ discussions on mental health issues in schools.
As they have in the past, Education Finance welcomed student voices to join the committee for the opening hearing. Six students from across Minnesota, and from varying school settings, shared their experiences and concerns about the mental health issues facing students today. Common themes included the need for more mental health personnel in schools, small class sizes, and exposure to post-secondary options other than college. The Education Finance Committee’s second hearing also covered mental health issues, this time with testimony from a current school psychologist and a teacher who had quit just one month prior. The women shared some of the difficulties schools have been experiencing throughout the pandemic. Both impressed upon the committee members that the crippling workforce shortage needs to be a top priority. They relayed that faculty and staff are stretched thin and are also facing their own mental health issues as they attempt to help struggling students.
This week in Education Committees
Senate Education – Less Screen Time and Improving Literacy
Senate Education Chair Roger Chamberlain will have two hearings this week. One to hear from the LiveMoreScreenLess organization, the other on LETRS literacy training. No bills are scheduled for hearings this week.
House Education Policy – Short Call Subs
HF 2950 creates short-term flexibility for substitute licensure, albeit not as aggressively as some would like. The bill allows for individuals with AA degrees or currently in teacher prep to apply to PELSB for a short call substitute teacher license.
MREA and others have asked for a school district option to credential individuals for the rest of this school year and a few years into the future to pilot new candidate pools. HF 3124, section 3 creates this option.
House Education Finance – ELL, Special Education Cross-Subsidy and Walz Plan
This week will see ELL and Special Education funding as the featured topics in the Education Finance committee.
Special Education Cross-Subsidy:
On Thursday, the committee will dive into the Walz supplemental education plan.