Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Wednesday Committee Review.  The Senate Education Committee/E-12 Budget Division covered several issues today, most notably, Senator Roger Chamberlain's SF 2308, a bill that would put a dyslexia specialist in the three regional centers of excellence run by the Minnesota Department of Education.  Parents of dyslexic students have been working very hard over the past several years to have school districts employ more aggressive strategies to deal with students who suffer from dyslexia.  Even with all of the work done on reading curricula and innovative approaches to improve reading scores, advocates on behalf of the dyslexic believe that dyslexia constitutes a particular disability condition that needs to be recognized and treated with specific strategies.  I don't have the exact cost proposed by Senator Chamberlain, but it would likely run in the neighborhood of $250,000 to $300,000 annually.

Other bills heard in the Senate today included SF 1386, Senator John Hoffman's bill on licensing early childhood teachers; SF 2605, Senator Eken's bill that facilitates a land swap between the Moorhead and Dilworh-Glyndon-Felton school districts; SF 2517, Senator Patricia Torres Ray's bill that would extend high school graduation incentives to age 24; and SF 2470. Senator Greg Clausen's bill that would require teachers get one hour of suicide prevention training when renewing their license.  The one hour would not be an additional hour to the total number of hours required for renewal, but would be folded into the current time requirements.

The Funding Division portion of the meeting dealt with Senator Susan Kent's bill to require the adoption of the national association of sport and physical education benchmarks.

The House Education Finance Committee spent its meeting reviewing various aspects of early learning, including presentations by St. Paul's Promise Neighborhood and the Northside Achievement Zone.  There were also reports on Parent Aware and the education partnerships that were approved by the Legislature last year.  The testimony from all of these participants was very spirited and there are some very good things happening in these communities.  Some of this discussion will dovetail with efforts toward creating full-service community schools and it shows how important it is that a broad range of services beyond what schools traditionally supply is often needed to improve learning.

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