Tuesday Report. It was a day full of hearings devoted to introductions and discussion of overarching issues facing the Legislature during the 2013 legislative session. The House Education Policy Committee held its first hearing and the time was absorbed by the committee members introducing themselves and explaining their interest in serving on the House Education Policy Committee. It's a very interesting group and a number of the committee members have extensive experience as teachers. What was especially refreshing was to hear the breadth of the members' teaching experience. There is a special education teacher and two members of the committee who spent a bulk of their career working with alternative education. Add to that several members who spent their careers in the regular education classroom and you've got a group that can pretty much cover the waterfront in terms of what it takes to meet the broad range of student needs that currently exist.
The House Education Finance Committee devoted its time to staff presentations of some possible approaches to the issues raised by committee members in their discussion at the first meeting of the committee last week.
There's a new committee on the block in the House this year (well, actually, it's a resurrection of the Early Childhood Funding and Policy Division) and that is the House Early Childhood and Youth Development Policy Committee. As the title makes clear, this committee will not play any direct role in determination of the budget levels for programs, but will instead devote itself to the discussion of a number of pressing issues facing the education system. There will be a concerted effort from a number of groups (most notably the "MiniMinds" coalition to put more revenue into early childhood education this session, but that revenue needs to be directed into the programs that show the most promise and the discussion that takes place in this committee should help better define which programs can be most effective. Today's hearing was devoted to children's mental health with presentations by both practitioners and academics. This is a complex issue that is bringing increasing challenges to school districts throughout the state. The information delivered today will help focus the discussion of possible strategies to deal with this issue.
The House Property and Local Tax Division also met this afternoon and the hearing featured a very informative presentation by staff members from House Research and House Fiscal Analysis. Staff members Pat Dalton, Steve Hinze, Joel Michael, and Katherine Schill provided a comprehensive explanation of Minnesota's property and local tax system and I will direct readers to that information as soon as it is posted on the committee and/or House Research website.
MinnPost Article on Intermediate District 287. Minnesota's three intermediate districts have adapted over the years to customize their programs to meet the growing diversity of student needs and Beth Hawkins from MinnPost did a great job describing their challenges in an article from today's edition.
Here's the link: http://www.minnpost.com/learning-curve/2013/01/safety-zone-inside-school-where-no-students-needs-are-too-tough