Saturday, January 17, 2015

Weekly Wrap-Up.  It was a quick week with the pace of the session already picking up speed.  The House Education Finance Committee met on all three of its possible meeting dates (Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday) with the time divided between non-partisan staff providing background and data for the committee members and testimony from education groups who will be appearing before the committee during the 2015 legislative session.  I had the opportunity to testify on Wednesday on behalf of SEE and gave a brief synopsis (we were limited to five minutes) of our 2015 platform.  The thing I always stress in this type of testimony is that much of SEE's primary mission lie in the intersection between education funding and property tax policy and how those two issue areas are closely interrelated.

The Senate spent its Thursday Education Finance/Policy Committee time going over the World's Best Workforce legislation that was passed in 2013 and is being implemented this year.  The testimony was generally supportive of the concept contained in the legislation, but most testifiers also pointed out that the program has required a significant investment of staff time to collate the various reports included in the World's Best Workforce requirements.  Senator Wiger, chair of the Senate Education Finance/Policy Committee has expressed his interest in the World's Best Workforce at several junctures thus far this session and it will be interesting to see how discussion of the topic differs between the House and the Senate and whether it plays a major role in deliberations between the two bodies as the session comes to a close.  Generally, I think most legislators and policy makers see the value of the legislation as it can serve as a common reporting platform that can give the public a better idea of how a school district is performing across a broad range of measures.  At the same time, there are provisions (particularly the penalties for not meeting certain achievement goals) that trouble both school districts and legislators.  Stay tuned.

Interesting Poligraph Story.  Minnesota Public Radio devoted part of this week's Poligraph segment to K-12 education by checking out Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk's statement regarding Minnesota's ranking of 49th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in the ratio of school counselors per student.  As the story points out, Bakk is pretty much on the mark in his assertion.

Here is a link to the story (Pay no mind to the Kaler headline.  That's the second story in the segment.):

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