Monday, January 28, 2013

Bill Intros for Monday.  Nine bills in the realm of education policy and funding were introduced on Monday, January 28.  Among the highlights are:

House Files (Senate Companion Where Noted)

HF 187 (Hortman-DFL-Brooklyn Park) Establishing a Residential Science, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) school.  Link:
HF 192 (Drazkowski-R-Mazeppa) Requiring every school district have a bullying prevention policy.  This is likely the Republican alternative to a bill that will be introduced later that reflects the work of the task force that met over the interim developing bullying prevention policy.  Link:
HF 198 (Mariani-DFL-St. Paul)/SF 160 (Wiger-DFL-Maplewood) Raises compulsory attendance age from 16 to 18.  This has been discussed in previous years and there would be a cost associated with its implementation.  Link:

Senate Files

SF 139 (J. Pederson-R-St. Cloud) Replaces 11th grade GRAD test with an end-of-course examination.  Likely the first volley on this issue.  Link:
SF 149 (Brown-R-Becker) Constitutional amendment that would require the state pay school districts at least 90% of their aid in the current fiscal year.  In other words, a constitutional prohibition to using the funding shift if approved by Minnesota voters.  Link:
SF 162 (Kent-DFL-Woodbury)  Provides for voluntary All-Day Kindergarten in a similar fashion as SF 2 (Clausen-DFL-Apple Valley) except that SF 162 gives districts greater flexibility by allowing districts to use money not used on All-Day Kindergarten for Pre-school and Pre-K programs.  Link:

It is likely that the increased equalization bill that Senator Rod Skoe (DFL-Clearbrook), chair of the Senate Tax Committee, will be introduced on Thursday.  I will certainly let you know when that is the case.

Interesting and Rewarding Visit.  It was a quiet day at the Legislature, so I had the time to visit SEE member St. Francis and see how they are incorporating technology into their elementary school classrooms.  Needless to say, I was extremely impressed with how the district from top-to-bottom--administration, school board, teachers, and students--have embraced technology and are working it into the delivery of instruction every day.  I saw kindergartners, 2nd graders, and 5th graders using Ipads with great effectiveness across the curriculum.  I also got to see a teacher working to develop a three-dimensional presentation for her 4th grade class.

It's not just in the area of curriculum delivery that technology shows great promise.  The math instructional program used by 5th graders kept a running score on problems tackled by the students and stores the results.  This gives students, teachers, and parents an on-going record of both student successes and problem areas that need greater work to assure mastery.  Further, it frees the teacher from having to spend countless hours correcting worksheets.  There are still worksheets and there are class-wide activities, but teachers are "freer" to teach.  Just an interesting and rewarding day.

My thanks go out to Superintendent Ed Saxton, Second grade teacher Stephanie Schollman at St. Francis Elementary School, Kindergarten teacher Amy Worden and Fifth Grade teacher Lillian DeRung at East Bethel Community School, Fourth Grade teacher Holli Hillman and building technology supervisor Mel Eliason at Cedar Creek Community School, and District-wide technology supervisor Corey Tramm.  It was a great trip and I would urge anyone interested in incorporating technology into their classrooms to take a long look at what is going on in St. Francis.


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