Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Committees Running Overtime.  Less than two weeks to the first policy committee deadline means lots of meetings and lots of bills being heard.  The Senate Education Policy Committee met Monday morning for close to three hours and the House Education Innovation Policy went into the night this evening.  Both committees covered a wide range of policy bills.  Very few of the bills will be going directly to the floor.  Instead, most are being held in the committee for possible inclusion in the omnibus education policy bills in each body.

Of all the bills being heard, the ones that elicited the most discussion were HF 645, Representative Deb Kiel's bill to streamline the teaching licensing procedure for teachers licensed in other states.  There are teacher shortages in a number of curricular areas throughout the state that could be filled by teachers who have been licensed in other states.  Initially, the variance process for these candidates isn't that onerous, but, of course, variances don't last forever and if these individuals don't get the necessary coursework done, they don't get a Minnesota license.  Most education groups support the bill, but the Board of Teaching and the Minnesota Association of Colleges of Teacher Education have concerns, mostly over what they view to be requirements for Minnesota teachers that ensure high-quality instructors.

Link:  HF 645

Representative Peggy Bennett's HF 1392, which would reduce the number of tests required of Minnesota students and change the testing regime to give teachers more useful information about their students' performance, was also heard.  Of course, the state's testing policy has been under almost constant scrutiny over the past decade and there will be changes to it this year.  A working group was convened by the Minnesota Department of Education last fall and those recommendations have been released.  Representative Bennett's bill is a variation on that theme and it was supported today by a delegation of administrators from the Albert Lea School District.

Link:  HF 1392

Link:  Governor Dayton's Comments on Testing

The other bill that generated considerable interest in the House Education Innovation Policy Committee today was HF 1220, Representative Ron Kresha's bill that deals with early learning scholarships.  Early learning is going to receive a lot of attention throughout the session.  It was clear that was going to be the case before the session started.  It became increasingly clear when the Governor released his budget with over $100 million dedicated to universal pre-kindergarten.  After the Governor's announcement that he was "tripling down" on his universal pre-kindergarten last week by adding an additional $200+ million to it, it became the centerpiece of discussion; not that it will necessarily happen, but certainly in that its magnitude has put the overall budget target for education at a level that could accommodate a lot of programs and that dollars will probably be moved from universal pre-kindergarten for other purposes in both the House and Senate.  Representative Kresha's bill deals with the scholarship program and there is concern that the bill as currently written would severely limit school district participation in the program.  That has yet to be determined, but this, like many other issues related to early childhood education will be discussed as the overall issue is addressed over the remainder of the session.

Link:  HF 1220

Monday Bill Introductions.


SF 1467--Johnson--Provides full funding for concurrent enrollment program--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1467&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1498--Wiger--Allows districts to compensate effective and highly effective teachers in hard-to-staff settings--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1498&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1501--Torres Ray--Appropriates money for family literacy services and a high school community action program--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1501&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1502--Clausen--Directs Board of Teaching to adopt standards for an endorsement enabling licensed high school teachers to provide dual enrollment instruction at a high school--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1502&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1505--Dahle--Implements portions of the 2013 legislative auditor's report on special education--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1505&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1508--Bonoff--Allows charter schools to give an enrollment preference to children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1508&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1513--Hann--Dissolves Minneapolis school district and creates six separate districts--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1513&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1528--Hoffman--Enhances PSEO payments to postsecondary institutions to include textbook and equipment costs--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1528&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

SF 1541--Bonoff--Requires reporting school and district data on foreign exchange and study abroad programs--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=SF1541&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0


HF 1542--Selcer--Requires reporting school and district data on foreign exchange and study abroad programs--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1542&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1571--Newton--Enhances PSEO payments to postsecondary institutions to include textbook and equipment costs--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1571&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1592--Bly--Provides for a placement policy for practice and student teachers--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1592&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1626--Erickson--Modifies revenue distribution for regional library system support formula--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1626&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1629--Mariani--Allows districts to compensate effective and highly effective teachers in hard-to-staff settings--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1629&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1636--Christensen--Creates greater ability for districts to transfer revenue between funds--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1636&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1641--Anzelc--Modifies equalization rate for local optional revenue for districts with high concentrations of seasonal/recreational property--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1641&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1642--Selcer--Recommendation #4 from School Facilities Finance Working Group report--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1642&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1643--Sundin--Allows districts to transfer funds from ECFE to Learning Readiness--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1643&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

HF 1657--Erickson--Empowers authorizers to terminate contracts based on lack of student performance--https://www.revisor.mn.gov/bills/text.php?number=HF1657&version=0&session=ls89&session_year=2015&session_number=0

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