Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Back to Biz.  The Legislature returned to work this morning after its Easter/Passover break and things picked up where they left off.  The policy committee deadline has passed and its pretty much going to be all about the budget from this point forward at the committee level. A number of measures of interest (gay marriage, gun control, anti-bullying, etc.) made their policy committee deadlines and are now on the floors (or in an appropriations committee) of their respective houses.

For education, the focus now turns to the E-12 Division in the Senate and the Education Finance Committee in the House.  Both of those panels met today.  The House Education Finance Committee spent its time discussing the House version of the omnibus education policy bill that cleared the House Education Policy Committee right before the holiday break.  The biggest topic of conversation today was the proposed elimination of the 11th grade MATH grad test and its replacement with a new set of measurements to determine eligibility for graduation.  The sections of the bill relating to this subject were largely developed by a task force convened by the Minnesota Department of Education last summer.  The report of the task force can be found at this page on the MDE website: http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/Welcome/AdvBCT/AssessAccountWorkGroup/index.html

The House committee adopted a couple of technical amendments, but these provisions will be discussed once again next week when the policy bill will be melded with the portions of the bill relating to education finance.

The Senate spent its meeting time discussing proposed changes to the integration revenue program.  The program looks similar to what was proposed in the Governor's education finance working group, with the focus of the program being refocused toward achievement as opposed to the movement of students.  Further, revenue (all aid as the levy portion of the program has been eliminated with Pay 13 being the last year the levy will be collected unless it is re-established this session) will be based on students of color and not all students in the district.  There are few differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill and what was proposed by the Governor, so this is one area where agreement should be relatively easy to reach.

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