Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Regional Meetings Complete.  Our round of regional meetings ended on Monday so we are now in full preparation mode for the 2016 election season and the 2017 legislative session.  At this point in time, the chances of a special session are dwindling by the day and the Brexit vote last week has probably injected just enough uncertainty into the budget forecast to make legislators increasingly wary of moving forward.  In the absence of a session, the opposing viewpoints will be played out writ large during the campaign season.  One of the ironic things of the session is that the bill that was probably deemed least likely to pass this year--the omnibus supplemental budget bill--passed while the three bills that on the top of the pre-session priority list--the tax bill, the transportation bill, and the bonding bill--did not.  It will be interesting to see how that is framed moving forward.

The primary points brought up by regional meeting participants dealt with both funding and tax fairness.  School districts throughout the state are in cut mode once again and the main reasons for that are the failure of the general education basic formula to keep pace with inflation over the past decade and the continuing cross-subsidy of state-mandated special education costs from school district general funds.  Those will be two items we will be concentrating on in the year ahead along with our traditional commitment to tax fairness.  We did have the opportunity to promote referendum and debt service equalization during the 2016 session along with the agricultural school bond credit that was part of the vetoed tax bill.  All of those property tax-related items will also be part of our 2017 platform.

Thanks to all who participated in the regional meetings.  It's great to hear from the many voices that comprise the organization.

Teacher Licensure Task Force Begins Its Work.  The legislative task force that will take the recommendations contained in the Legislative Auditor's 2016 report on Minnesota's teacher licensure system.  Today's meeting centered on the main recommendations in the report and provided a broad outline of how it will proceed.  The task force members are as follows:


Representative Sondra Erickson, co-chair
Representative Jenifer Loon
Representative Drew Christensen
Representative Jim Davnie
Representative Carlos Mariani
Representative Barb Yarusso


Senator Chuck Wiger, co-chair
Senator Kevin Dahle
Senator Greg Clausen
Senator Gary Dahms
Senator Eric Pratt
Senator Karen Housley

One item that was mentioned today in Ms. Randall's testimony that hasn't gotten a lot of attention to this point is the incorporation of the duties of the Board of School Administrators into a single board that will also deal with teacher licensure.  While that suggestion was contained in the Legislative Auditor's report, the focus on the teacher licensure part of the equation kept further discussion in the background.

Here is a link to the Legislative Auditor's Report:  Minnesota Teacher Licensure

Book Recommendation.  One great thing about the legislative interim is there is less reading of bills and spreadsheets and more reading of books.  Here is a title--The End of Power by Moises Naim--I came across and found particularly interesting and insightful.  It outlines how institutions have eroded over the past few decades and how that changes the way the world works in terms of politics, education, and business.

Here is a link to the book on Amazon:  The End of Power

As an added bonus, here is an interview with Moises Naim from the Agenda with Steve Palkin.

Congrats to Rockford!  This MinnPost article is almost a month old and I should have gotten it up sooner, but MinnPost reporter Erin Hinrichs featured the STRIVE program at Rockford high school that has helped students get back on track academically and prepare for their next step.

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