Monday, March 03, 2008

Flying Into Week 4. The fourth week of the 2008 Legislative Session is underway and this week is going to be pretty much action-packed. There weren't many hearings today, but I am here at the Capitol into the night covering the Senate Education Committee's hearing.

The Senate Education Committee has had an impressive slate of bills before it this afternoon and evening. The first bill heard in the committee was SF 3151 authored by Senator Patricia Torres Ray (DFL-Minneapolis). The goal of SF 3151 is to narrow the achievement gap that currently exists for all students, but particularly for subgroups of students from different racial and ethnic groups. A distinguished list of testifiers provided support to this effort. Pictured at the right are (from left to right) Senator Torres Ray, Rochester Superintendent Dr. Romain Dallemand and St. Paul Superintendent Dr. Meria Carstarphen.

The achievement gap continues to be one of the most pressing issues before policymakers nationwide and Senator Torres Ray's bill provides aggressive solutions requiring both planning and execution on the part of Minnesota's school districts. Senator Torres Ray offered a "strike-everything" amendment (an amendment that dramatically revises the bill from the first word while maintaining the basic policy direction) in committee, making the language found on-line obsolete. I will have copies of the strike-everything available for discussion at the next round of regional meetings.

Minnesota's Promise Gets Senate Attention. After receiving a hearing in the House Education Policy Committee last week, Minnesota's Promise (SF 3250--Rummel (DFL-White Bear Lake) received consideration in the Senate Education Policy Committee today. Two SEE member district superintendents provided testimony for the bill: Dr. Keith Ryskoski of Stillwater and Dr. Deb Henton of North Branch (shown at left preparing to testify).

Minnesota's Promise has provided a very valuable blueprint for the future of education policy in Minnesota and its proponents hope that action will be taken this year to get portions of the legislation enacted into law to guide the adoption of future education policy. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that the efforts of the MASA and the University of Minnesota in the development of the Minnesota's Promise plan will be influential as the state moves forward in this policy area.

Full Day Tomorrow. It'll be morning, noon, and night tomorrow as the day will be packed with legislative action. Perhaps the most interesting hearing will be in the House Education Policy Committee tomorrow evening when the Task Force Report on the where Minnesota's special education statutes and rules exceed the federal government's will be discussed. I don't know if there will be verbal fireworks, but my guess is the atmosphere may get a bit tense.

Don't hesitate to call with questions. I can be reached at 612-220-7459.

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