Friday, March 30, 2018

It's Always Something.  At least that's what Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say on SNL's Weekend Update way back when.  The "something" that will be part of this year's education policy discussion is the proposed return of the five-star rating system and that will set up a confrontation between the Legislature and the Governor on the issue of accountability.  Both the House and Senate omnibus education policy bills contain similar provisions that would bring back the five-star rating system.  The current school rating system on the Minnesota Department of Education website isn't the easiest thing to navigate, but it provides both a wealth of information and some context to the school environment that parents need to consider when choosing a school.  Going back to a school grading system that is solely based on achievement on test scores really buries a lot of school quality measures.  It will be interesting to see how this debate is resolved.

In the meantime, here she is, Roseanne Roseannadanna.

Senate Education Policy Committee Passes Senate Omnibus Education Policy Bill.  It was a fairly compact meeting as far as these types of meetings go, with the elapsed time coming in around four hours.  There was plenty of discussion around the changes in school achievement and several amendments were attached--including one on incorporating the concept of affirmative consent into sex education curricula--but it was a relatively calm hearing with most of the amendments being defeated on a straight party-line vote (which isn't odd at this stage of the game).

Here's an article about the affirmative consent language that went into the House omnibus education policy bill.   Bill would mandate affirmative-consent instruction for all Minnesota public high school students 

The Senate has similar, but not identical language.

House Releases School Safety Proposal.  House leadership unveiled a $50 million package for school safety improvements yesterday.  It appears it will be similar to the Senate proposal in that it will be flexible for districts and will consist of a combination of grants and increased levy authority.  The Senate has more money in its bill, but the aid portion is one-time money for the 2018-2019 school year.  The Senate also provides eight years of increased equalized levy authority at the tune of $100/PU for fiscal years FY 2020 through FY 2028 through an increase in the Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue (LTFMR).  The House has made that revenue stream more flexible by allowing it to be used for school safety improvements, but so many schools have hit the limit in what they can levy under that program that the increased flexibility does not add up to much.

What the House proposes does go beyond the Governor's recommendation and there may be a confrontation over the Governor's proposal to make School Readiness Plus permanent over legislative proposals to channel revenue almost exclusively into school safety this session.  Hearkening back to the original theme of today's entry:

Here is the MPR story on the House proposal:  House GOP ups ante on school safety push

The Legislature is on break next week, but when they return on April 9, be ready for some high-flying action.  The nuts-and-bolts of tax conformity have yet to take shape and budget targets have yet to be set.  The Governor has outlined his budget proposal, but the stumbling block in his proposal may be the amount of money he has obligated for the next biennium with an increase in special education funding and the incorporation of the school readiness plus funding into the base.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Here is the Senate Omnibus Education Policy Bill.  I wanted to get this out prior to today's meeting of the Senate Education Policy Committee meeting at 3 PM.  There are a lot of similar provisions to the House omnibus bill and there will likely be a spate of amendments offered by DFLers today in committee, so it's not a finished product.  But look through it for things you might like (and might dislike).

Link:  SF 3086 Framework Amendment

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Interesting (and Troubling) Bill Squeaks Out of Senate Transportation Committee.  Senator Scott Newman's SF 3837--a bill that would dedicate the revenue generated from the sales tax on auto repairs and auto replacement parts to the highway fund--passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee tonight on a vote of 8-7.  One Republican voted against the bill, which means if no minds change between now and the Senate floor, the bill will have rough sledding seeing it will need all the Republican votes (unless some DFLers cross over to support the bill) to pass given the one-vote partisan margin in the Senate.

The problem with the bill is straightforward.  As I have been wont to say, you can only spend a dollar once and any dollar diverted from the general fund for transportation purposes cannot be spent on budget categories that are more heavily reliant on general fund spending for support, particularly education and health and human services.  The other problem with the bill is that it is a proposed constitutional amendment.  This means that if the Legislature passes it, it will go on the ballot this fall with the Governor having no chance to veto it.  So stay tuned on this one.

Interesting Article from The Economist on Gifted and Talented Education.  Thought I'd toss this in today's blog.  It's an article from last week's issue of The Economist that talks about the identification and education of gifted students.  It's a very interesting article.

How and why to search for young Einsteins

Bill Introductions

House (Senate not in session)

HF 4260--Davnie--Requires that certain forecasted positive general fund balances be allocated to restore the special education aid payment percentage.

HF 4271--Pugh--Allows certain online core curricular courses to be delivered at sites other than public school buildings.

HF 4272--Knoblach--Provides special education equity aid.

HF 4274--Hertaus--Increases building lease levy.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Deadline Approaches.  The second deadline is Thursday, March 29, and that is the day the Senate Education Policy Committee will be marking up the Senate's version of the 2018 omnibus education policy bill.  The bill may be available online tomorrow and I will certainly post it when it becomes available.  The Senate hasn't indicated what will be in the bill other than the framework of technical changes from the Governor's policy bill that was laid out in HF 3086.  There will clearly be additions to that bill.  One item that will be contained is the special education funding working group and it is expected that the approach advocated by the Senate will differ than the one suggested in HF 3315.  The Senate reportedly wants to have the working group comprised wholly of legislators while the House prefers a membership roster with no legislators, but instead 19 different education-sector stakeholders.  The Senate bill may also contain Senator Carla Nelson's SF 2487, the academic balance bill that was the subject of intense discussion earlier this session.  However, SF 2487 is currently in the Education Finance Committee and Senator Nelson may want to have her academic balance provision in the omnibus funding bill instead.

Showdown over Early Childhood Funding.  One provision in the Governor's budget bill is the expenditure of more dollars into an early childhood education initiative that has been championed by the Governor over the past four years.  The budget accord reached at the end of the 2017 session put $50 million (approximately $25 million per year) into a program labeled School Readiness-Plus.  The agreement made this program only effective for the current biennium.  In his budget proposal, the Governor seeks to make this funding permanent, but that is hardly going to be a slam dunk.

Here's a news story from MPR about the impending (but polite) collision of mindsets:  Dayton pushes again for pre-K funding

More from MPR.  Monday's Midday (or what used to be called Midday) program featured a roundtable discussion from three Minnesota teachers (one being current Education Minnesota President Denise Specht) on school safety and what teachers need to help keep schools safe.  Here is a link to the podcast:  Do we expect too much from teachers?

Legislative Auditor to Study Equalization.  The votes have been cast and the Legislature has directed the Legislative Auditor to study equalization (it appears the concentration will be on debt service equalization, but that is unclear at the moment) during the interim.  I want to thank Representative Connie Bernardy for giving me a heads-up that a study of equalization was going to be forwarded to the Legislature as a possible study topic.  She urged me to contact SEE members and have them contact their legislators with a message to support this topic for study.  Voila!  It worked.  I don't know if there has ever been a Get Out the Vote effort on a Legislative Auditor proposal, but there has been one now and it was successful.  So thanks to all who contacted their legislators and thanks to the legislators who voted for the proposal.

Bill Introductions (Monday, March 26)


SF 3800--P. Anderson--Modifies requirements for milk for school lunches and vocational programs.

SF 3801--Dahms--Establishes STEM program that focuses on agriculture.

SF 3807--Dziedzic--Creates state fund to pay for unreimbursed special education costs.

SF 3808--Torres-Ray--Makes permanent the authority for certain students with interrupted formal education to participate in an early middle college program for one additional year.

SF 3810--Torres-Ray--Appropriates money for students in alternative programs.

SF 3821--Hoffman--Modifies education partnership program and grant process.

SF 3831--Kent--Prohibits school lunch providers from shaming students.


HF 4214--Peterson--Authorizes transportation for certain pregnant or parenting teens.

HF 4229--Sandstede--Modifies teacher licensure requirements.

HF 4238--Bennett--Provides a statutory definition for special education cooperatives.

HF 4239--Bennett--Expands pathway for paraprofessionals to obtain a teaching license.

HF 4255--Smith--Modifies probationary period provisions for teachers and principals in school districts outside cities of the first class.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

House Education Policy Bill Clears First Hurdle.  It wasn't that much of a hurdle seeing the bill passed easily on a voice vote, but the hearing wasn't without a lot of debate.  The primary focus of the debate and the subject that received the most proposed tweaks was the change in the state accountability system contained in the bill.  The provisions in the bill go back to the "star" system that has been shelved during the Dayton administration and replaced with multiple measures of accountability.  The current situation has caused some to complain that it is too complicated and that parents cannot find the information to make informed decisions on where to send their children where the program fits them best.  All of the efforts to amend this section of the bill were unsuccessful, but I fully expect the subject to be re-visited all the way through the legislative session.

There were several amendments added in the committee today that had not received much attention prior to the hearing.  None of these issues are new, but it was a little surprising to see them come up today.  The additions are as follows:

  • A requirement that school districts teach a civics course in either 11th or 12 grade.
  • A requirement that the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Education, in consultation with the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, assist school districts to develop and implement a consent program to reduce instances of sexual abuse.
  • Requirement that PELSB survey all teacher preparation programs to determine the availability of dyslexia instruction.
The bill now heads to the House Education Finance Committee.  It is unclear at this juncture whether the bill will travel on its own or be folded into the mega-budget bill the Legislature will likely construct sometime in mid-April.  All will be reveal in due time.

Student Discipline Debate.  I don't know how many of you remember the old James J. Kilpatrick versus Shana Alexander segment on 60 Minutes called Point/Counterpoint where the conservative Kilpatrick and the liberal Alexander would hash over an issue in a brief exchange.  The debate between Katherine Kersten and Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius over the proposed changes to student discipline that may come about due to concerns voiced by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights over the racial disparity in suspensions.

Here are the articles from the StarTribune, with Kersten's initial take from the Monday edition and Commissioner Cassellius' response from Tuesday.

Kersten:  Undisciplined: Chaos may be coming to Minnesota classrooms, by decree

Cassellius:  Counterpoint: What Katherine Kersten can't grasp about schools but readers should

Bill Introductions

Senate (Wednesday 3/21)

SF 3639--Koran--Requires districts to allow online learners access to a school site.

SF 3654--Utke--Requires that statewide tests be given after April 14.

SF 3655--Rosen--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for school safety building improvements.

SF 3664--Wiger--Requires school districts to publish a summary of its crisis management policy and establishes threat assessment teams and oversight committees.

SF 3674--Eichorn--Broadens eligibility for natural disaster debt service equalization program.

SF 3727--Franzen--Provides a definition for STEM education.

Senate (Thursday 3/22)

SF 3733--Fishbach--Allows patriotic societies the opportunity to encourage student participation.

SF 3742--Nelson--Requires credit in government and citizenship for high school graduation.

SF 3743--Nelson--Creates competitive grant program for character development education.

SF 3746--Benson--Requires school districts to adopt student mobile device policy.

SF 3768--Kent--Modifies teacher licensure requirements.

SF 3787--Senjem--Provides grant to develop a teacher preparation program that leads to a license to teach the blind or visually impaired.

House (Wednesday 3/21)

HF 4081--Sandstede--Increases transportation funding.

HF 4115--Slocum--Raises revenue for charter schools to approximate school district revenue.

HF 4117--Urdahl--Requires credit in government and citizenship for high school graduation.

HF 4119--Jessup--Requires teacher preparation programs to include instruction on dyslexia.

HF 4120--Anselmo--Establishes safe schools revenue program.

House (Thursday 3/22)

HF 4141--Gunther--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for school safety building improvements.

HF 4142--Urdahl--Creates competitive grant program for character development education.

HF 4201--Omar--Requires guidance counselor in every school.

HF 4202--Fischer--Requires school districts to publish a summary of its crisis management policy and establishes threat assessment teams and oversight committees.

HF 4207--Maye-Quade--Requires affirmative consent instruction.

HF 4208--Davnie--Creates state fund for unreimbursed special education costs.

HF 4209--Anselmo--Provides a definition for STEM education.

HF 4210--Loon--Increases number of pupil audits.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Whirlwind!  The pace has picked up over the past week.  Bills are still being introduced in droves, committees are meeting into the night, and the Governor released his budget recommendations.  The Governor's budget recommendations are the starting point for the serious fiscal negotiations that will be taking place over the next two months.  The Governor has put forward a fairly aggressive investment for the coming fiscal year (FY 19), although it appears he come in lower than the Senate's recommendation (of course, all is in flux).  Where the Governor differs from the Senate is in the revenue he commits to the next biennium in the form of increased schools safety revenue, increased special education revenue, and in making the School Readiness Plus program that was passed last session permanent.  The School Readiness Plus program was slated to be sunset after FY 19 per the agreement reached at the end of the 2017 Legislative Session.  The uptick in the February budget forecast along with the Governor's recommendation to not fully conform with Federal income tax changes and produce a revenue cushion in the process.  I have oversimplified the Governor's approach on taxes and the details have yet to be released, but it appears that additional revenue will be available through several means beyond the rosier budget forecast.

As it stands right now, it looks like the Senate will be putting more revenue into the current fiscal year than the Governor, but again, it's too early to tell for certain.  Senator Carla Nelson's SF 2754 proposes to put about $80 million into flexible school safety revenue for the coming fiscal year with no money committed beyond that.  The Legislature's contention is that next year will be a budget year and that committing heavily into the next biennium for any purpose would reduce budget flexibility and the opportunity to put money into efforts like increased funding for special education or an increase in the basic formula.

The House has yet to commit revenue to anything and they may be waiting until their tax bill takes shape before coming forward with a fleshed out budget proposal.  One thing all parties have agreed to adopt is the pension bill which will solve the TRA issue that has been left to fester over the past few years.  Under the plan, the employer share will go up by 1.25% (1/4 percent per year for five years) with the state picking up the tab through the pension subtraction in the general education formula).  The employee share will go up by 0.25% in 2024.

Here is a link to the Governor's press document on the budget proposal for FY 19.  Excellent Educations for Minnesota Students

Bill Introductions

Senate--Thursday, March 15

SF 3433--Draheim--Authorizes transportation for certain pregnant teens.

SF 3435--Housley--Requires Minnesota State High School League to adopt rules relating to youth hockey.

SF 3436--Wiger--Appropriates money to Minnesota Literacy Council to upgrade Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment.

SF 3439--Nelson--Clarifies district authority to implement competency-based courses and programs.

SF 3470--Clausen--Prohibits public employers from reducing compensation of members of Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board.

SF 3741--Clausen--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for building safety improvements.

SF 3742--Clausen--Increases safe schools levy and links portion of levy available to intermediate school districts to increases in the basic formula.

Monday, March 19

SF 3516--Nelson--Requires that a portion of voluntary prekindergarten recipients to be served through a mixed delivery system.

SF 3572--Chamberlain--Requires dyslexia screening in early grades.

SF 3591--Wiklund--Requires school boards to have a policy on student deaths.

SF 3592--Cwodzinski--Increases student transportation revenue.

SF 3606--Dziedzic--Requires a counselor in every school.

SF 3608--Kiffmeyer--Increases referendum and debt service equalization.

SF 3626--Dibble--Fully funds voluntary prekindergarten program.


Thursday, March 15

HF 3870--Peterson--Requires that a portion of voluntary prekindergarten recipients to be served through a mixed delivery system.

HF 3879--Lee--Appropriates money for after-school and STEM programming.

HF 3880--Hortman--Allows individuals promoting skilled industries access to secondary students.

HF 3881--Loon--Modifies formula for calculating transportation aid for students in Post-Secondary Enrollment Options.

HF 3882--Neu--Requires that students in online learning courses be allowed to be in school building during regular school hours.

HF 3883--Slocum--Appropriates money for study of differences between charter schools and school districts.

HF 3884--Theis--Provides a complaint procedure for certain school dismissals.

HF 3885--Christensen--Appropriates money for school security audits.

HF 3886--Lueck--Authorizes online learning providers to generate 
online learning aid for courses offered to nonpublic pupils.

HF 3887--Moran--Appropriates money to Minnesota Literacy Council to upgrade Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment.

HF 3888--Howe--Allows patriotic organizations to encourage student participation.

HF 3902--Dettmer--Increases board-approved referendum authority.

Monday, March 19

HF 3971--McDonald--Increases referendum and debt service equalization.

HF 3990--Kunesh-Podein--Reestablishes January 15 teacher bargaining deadline.

HF 3991--Peterson--Modifies innovation research zone pilot project.

HF 4002--Runbeck--Requires school districts to adopt student mobile device policies.

HF 4015--Peterson--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for building safety improvements.

HF 4025--Bliss--Broadens the natural disaster debt service 
equalization aid program to assist school districts with a high percentage of property excluded from the tax rolls.

House Releases Education Policy Bill.  The House Education Innovation Policy will spend the next couple of days presenting and entertaining amendments on their 2018 omnibus education policy bill.  Here is a link to HF 3315 as it will be presented to the committee tomorrow:  HF 3315

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Afternoon Committee Wrap-Up.  Wednesday features two education-related committee meetings.  At 1 PM, the House Education Finance Committee met and discussed several bills related to special education.  Foremost among these was Representative Marion O'Neill's HF 2877, which would provide a special education aid adjustment to the Monticello school district to defray a very puzzling and unfair shortfall to which the district has been subjected.  Determining how the shortfall came to be requires a compass and a Swiss Army knife to cut through the complexity and find one's way out of the woods, but basically, Monticello was once the fiscal host to a special education cooperative that was forced to convert to a joint powers agreement and in that process, some legitimate costs that were reported got lost in the shuffle, making a considerable dent in the amount of revenue Monticello received through the special education formula.  It does have to be mentioned that Monticello was changing its special education governance structure in the same time frame as the implementation of a new special education formula, which also adds to the complexity.  What is frustrating to Monticello staff is that they performed the reporting in the manner prescribed by the Minnesota Department of Education and were assured that additional money would be there as a result.  Alas, not the case.  Testifying on behalf of Monticello were business manager Tina Burkholder and former superintendent (and current St. Cloud State professor) Jim Johnson.  The bill calls for a aid adjustments of $200,000 per year for fiscal years 2020 through 2023 (a total of $800,000).

The committee also heard Representative Drew Christensen's special education task force bill--HF 2846--and Representative Linda Runbeck's HF 3013.  HF 3013 would require teachers renewing their licenses to receive training toward implementing strategies to help students suffering from dyslexia.

The Senate Education Finance Committee convened at 3 PM.  The Monticello squad reprised its testimony from the House in supporting Senator Bruce Anderson's companion to HF 2877, SF 2522.  The committee also heard from the College Board on the Khan Academy and the PSAT/SAT tests.  The day was rounded out with further discussion of Senator Carla Nelson's SF 2754, the school safety bill that would provide additional aid to school districts for facility and personnel upgrades related to school safety.

Bill Introductions (Not Even the State of the State Address can stop the Continuing Onslaught)


SF 3268--Eichorn--Modifies innovation research zone pilot project.

SF 3302--Kent--Provides a complaint procedure for certain pupil dismissals.

SF 3312--Relph--Clarifies immoral character or conduct by a teacher.

SF 3315--Eichorn--Requests Legislative Auditor to compare revenue generation and spending between school districts and charter schools.

SF 3335--Ruud--Authorizes online learning providers to generate 
online learning aid for courses offered to nonpublic pupils.

SF 3338--Bigham--Resurrects January 15 teacher negotiation deadline.

SF 3340--Pappas--Increases funding for Grow Your Own teacher preparation programs.

SF 3343--P. Anderson--Modifies definition of a textbook.

SF 3351--Rest--Requires budget forecast surplus to be dedicated to reducing special education cross-subsidy.

SF 3353--Franzen--Appropriates money for after-school and summer STEM programming.

SF 3368--P. Anderson--Authorizes fund transfer for Minnetonka School District.

SF 3369--P. Anderson--Authorizes additional facilities levy for Hopkins School District.

SF 3370--P. Anderson--Creates process by which district and charter school programs may be combined.


HF 3739--Erickson--Provides for an academic balance policy.

HF 3796--Loon--Authorizes Commissioner of Education to award school safety facility grants to school districts.

HF 3797--Haley--Increases safe schools revenue and equalizes the safe schools levy.

Interesting Article from The New Republic.  It seems like every day a national magazine publishes an article related to education, especially in the wake of the Parkland tragedy.  Here's the latest from The New Republic.  Be forewarned:  left-leaning.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Here Comes the Night (Meetings).

Van Morrison and Them weren't singing, but there was a very long line of witnesses on a very long list of bills and it would have been nice to have Van (or a Van Morrison impersonator) croon a bit between committee meetings.  There were three committee meetings today, starting with the House Education Innovation Policy Committee.  With the first committee deadline a mere week away, the agendas are getting stuffed to capacity and the House Education Innovation Policy Committee couldn't complete its full agenda during its morning session and had to reconvene at 4:00 PM.  They then met until 8:00 PM.

The bill that generated the most testimony today was HF 3178, a bill authored by Representative Roz Peterson in the House (and SF 2816 authored by Senator Roger Chamberlain in the Senate--more on that later).  HF 3178 seeks to streamline the current Minnesota Department of Education school accountability framework and move back toward a five-star rating system.  The rating system proposed in the bill would consider multiple measurements, making it more sophisticated than the previous school report card that devolved into "accountability on a stick" that was passed out at the State Fair.  

There's no question that the current school accountability system is on the complex side of things.  The state collects a ton of data and it doesn't always present that data in a manner that is easily digestible by parents.  That was evident from the testimony of a number of parents.  At the same time, I think it's important to remember H.L. Mencken's admonishment that "For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong."  

The parents that testified in the House this morning went over to the Senate this afternoon and testified on the aforementioned SF 2816--the Senate companion to HF 3178--in the Senate Education Policy Committee.  The discussion was similar to that in the House as it was spirited and compelling.  The challenge will be to meet the goals of accuracy and simplicity.  Schools themselves are collections of very unique learners and not all schools are blessed with the same levels of physical, fiscal, and personnel resources.  Trying to cram all of these differences into a single unadorned document may be too much to ask.  This is an debate to watch for the remainder of the session.

The other bill that sparked considerable debate in the House committee was HF 1507, Representative Eric Lucero's bill that would govern access to student's online activity.  Representative Lucero has been working on this bill for four years.  One of the primary goals of the bill is to protect students from vendors of educational products that the school may be using.  As everyone knows, sign up for anything on the internet and you've got a friend--heck, many friends--for life.

The House Education Finance Committee dealt with two extended time bills, one being Representative Bennett's bill that was heard in the House Education Innovation Policy Committee last week that would allow extended time revenue to be used for career and technical education electives offered outside the regular school day.  The other extended time bill is authored by Representative Carlos Mariani and would allow extended time revenue to be used to educate students in correctional institutions.  Representative Mariani's bill to increase the English learner funding formula was also heard.

In addition to SF 2816, the Senate Education Policy Committee heard Senator Eric Pratt's SF 3243, which would allow Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue to be used for school safety improvements.  Unlike Representative Loon's bill that expands the allowable uses of Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue that doesn't increase to total revenue allowance, Senator Pratt's bill proposes to add $100 per pupil to the system for the fiscal years 2020 through 2027.

Another bill of interest--SF 2900--came from the brainchild of Jordan superintendent (and SEE member) Dr. Matt Helgerson.  As Jordan superintendent, Helgerson has been thinking about conducting fire drills in a way that does not require students to leave the building.  A number of school shootings have taken place after a perpetrator (or accomplice) trips a fire alarm, with the shooting taking place after students have left the building.  School districts must conduct five fire drills during the year and SF 2900 would allow districts to have alternative drills where students don't leave the building for three of them.  Great thinking from Matt.

Monday, March 12, 2018

First Day of Regional Meetings.  SEE launched its mid-session set of regional meetings today with a spirited discussion at the Grounds Restaurant in Cokato this morning.  I urge all SEE members to get out to these regional meetings to share their perspectives as the Legislature comes up on its committee deadlines over the next two weeks.  There are a lot of things to discuss and SEE staff needs member input to make certain the organization's mission is served as decisions are made.

Senate Education Finance Committee Meets.  School safety was the order of the day in the Senate Education Finance Committee.  The hearing was similar to the one held in the House Education Finance Committee last week at which the School Safety Center and the Department of Homeland Security testified.  After those presentations, attention turned to SF 2754, Senator Carla Nelson's bill to provide school districts with additional revenue to augment their current school safety operations and upgrades.  Unlike HF 3320, which expands the eligible uses of Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue to include improvements to school safety.  As I testified last week (and reiterated today), the problem with that approach is that a great number of school districts have already made commitments with their Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue leaving them with little in the way of new revenue to funnel toward safety improvements.  Further, the approach of HF 3320 only deals with buildings and not with increased personnel who may help promote school safety within buildings.  SF 2754 gives districts flexibility in determining what their most pressing safety needs are and using the increased revenue to at least partially meet those needs.

Bill Introductions


SF 3213--Carlson--Amends provisions relating to absence from school for religious observance.

SF 3229--P. Anderson--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for school safety improvements.

SF 3233--Clausen--Modifies coursework requirement for a Tier 3 teachers license.

SF 3234--Clausen--Makes technical changes related to teacher licensure.

SF 3235--Clausen--Extends timeline to implement tiered licensure.

SF 3239--B. Anderson--Modifies exemptions for compulsory attendance law.

SF 3243--Pratt--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for school safety improvements and creates supplemental aid program to pay a portion of the costs.

SF 3255--Eaton--Provides a grant for substance misuse prevention.

SF 3260--B. Anderson--Indexes referendum equalizing factors.

SF 3263--P. Anderson--Strengthens Increase Teacher of Color Act.


HF 3594--Koznick--Strengthens Increase Teacher of Color Act.

HF 3595--Wills--Authorizes school districts to use Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue for school safety improvements.

HF 3597--Daniels--Allows teachers to obtain a Tier 3 license without passing a basic skills test.

HF 3599--Wills--Increases Safe Schools Levy.

HF 3600--Loon--Directs Legislative Auditor to study differences in funding between school districts and charter schools.

HF 3658--Wagenius--Funds voluntary prekindergarten program.

HF 3665--Lohmer--Requires display of national motto in school buildings.

HF 3668--Mariani--Extends timeline to implement tiered licensure.

HF 3675--Wagenius--Provides grants to school districts for solar energy systems.

HF 3676--Jessup--Creates reimbursement grants for school safety audits.

HF 3692--Jessup--Requires screening for dyslexia.

HF 3697--A. Carlson--Requires school board policy on student deaths.

HF 3718--Bly--Appropriates money for students in alternative programs.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Mr. DeMille, I'm Ready for my Close-Up.  Ran into a fellow congregant this morning in church and they said "Hey, I saw you on television."  Sure enough, KSTP/KSTC put a snippet of my testimony on HF 3320--Representative Loon's bill that would expand the eligible uses of Long Term Facilities Maintenance Revenue to include school safety upgrades-- on their Tuesday evening (March 6) newscast.  I couple more "be-deep, be-deeps" and I would have done a pretty good a pretty good Porky Pig imitation.  Anyway:  Lights, camera, action!  Here is a link to the video.

Video:  Dayton Readies Plan to Fund School Safety Improvements

The Value of Civics.  Whatever side of the gun debate one is one, I thought this story from the left-leaning The Washington Monthly (which is pretty anti-gun) provides a pretty good example of how the teaching of civics can help people engage the political sphere effectively.  Interesting viewpoint.

Link:  Why are Parkland Students So Articulate? Because They Were Taught Civics in Middle School

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Full Day of Committees.  Tuesday and Thursday are the days with wall-to-wall education-related committee meetings and thank goodness I can wedge in lunch.  The morning started with the House Education Innovation Policy covering a number of bills.  A fair amount of time was dedicated to bills authored by Representative Brian Daniels and Representative Pat Garofalo that would give priority to local applicants to two charter schools.  Representative Daniels represents the Nerstrand Charter School and Representative Garofalo represents the Castle Rock Charter School.  These two charter schools were established in some sense (but not exclusively) to give local residents an opportunity to have what amounts to a neighborhood school.  However, demand for these schools has increased, which may force some students who hail from Nerstrand or Castle Rock to go to a different school.  These bills would assure that residents of those two small towns would have preferential treatment in placement in the local charter school.

Representative Peggy Bennett presented one of the more interesting bills I have seen yet this session.  Under Representative Bennett's HF 3190, the funding category of extended time revenue could be used to provide career and technical education outside the school day and school year.  Extended time revenue has generally been used to help students who are falling behind academically to get to grade level in reading and math, but the Fairmont School District has established a weekend and summer welding class that gives students an introduction to welding and also provide instruction to adults who are changing careers.  Fairmont Superintendent Joe Brown, his staff, and several students did an excellent job showing how the current school day/school year framework prevents a number of students from taking elective courses.  Using extended time revenue to provide those electives would be a very innovative way of getting more programming (and not just career and technical programming) in front of students.  I have no idea if the Legislature will nod in this direction in 2018, as there is a price tag attached to the bill.  The price would not be prohibitive, but it doesn't appear that the Legislature will be opening the wallet too wide this session.

The Governor's education policy bill--HF 3315--was also presented.  While the bill is non-controversial for the most part, there are a couple of possible problems.  Most notably is language that would prevent school districts from denying lunch to students whose lunch accounts are in arrears.  This is a fairly straightforward goal, but the language as drafted could be interpreted to mean that students who are in arrears in any fee could not be prevented from participating in the activity for which the fees are intended.  More to come on this.  

The House Education Finance Committee also heard Representative Bennett's HF 3190 and Superintendent Brown and company did well in both games of their doubleheader.  Also up in the committee was Representative Urdahl's HF 3093, which would expand the tuition tax credit for teachers to include teachers who were working on a master's level special education license.

The committee day ended with spirited discussion in the Senate Education Policy Committee.  After covering two relatively non-controversial bills, the committee dove into Senator Carla Nelson's SF 2487.  The genesis of this bill seems to stem from the controversy surrounding Edina's "All for All" curriculum that some believe indoctrinates students and is overly centered on the concept of white privilege as the cause of a number of societal ills (although there have been complaints by parents and students from other districts about the nature of similar curricula and how it is delivered).  I have linked Center for the American Experiment Fellow Katherine Kersten's article from last October once again as a frame of reference to one side of the complainants in this debate.

Racial identity policies are ruining Edina's fabled schools

Bill Introductions.


SF 3026--Goggin--Provides grants for water safety instruction.

SF 3030--Hoffman--Appropriates money for Girls in Action.

SF 3031--Hoffman--Requires child safety instruction.

SF 3038--Kent--Limits length of state assessments.

SF 3040--Housley--Increases transportation revenue.

SF 3049--P. Anderson--Clarifies qualified providers of mental health services for innovative mental health grants to intermediate school districts.

SF 3061--Hall--Requires posting of national motto "In God We Trust" in school buildings.

SF 3068--Ruud--Appropriates money for school safety audits.

SF 3085--Chamberlain--Clarifies responsibility for the transportation of certain homeless students.

SF 3086--Pratt--Governor's Education Policy Bill.

SF 3091--Cwodzinski--Requires reporting on civics test questions.

SF 3125--Dahms--Expands use of extended time revenue to pupils enrolled in career and technical education courses.


HF 3529--McDonald--Expands tax exemption for charter school property.

HF 3533--Haley--Amends safe schools revenue to include medication disposal costs.

HF 3540--Sandstede--Addresses school safety and student support.

HF 3544--Theis--Provides grants to water safety instruction.

HF 3545--Sundin--Requires child safety curriculum.

HF 3547--Kresha--Appropriates money for a teacher preparation program leading to a license to teach the blind or visually impaired.

HF 3586--Hamilton--Amends provisions related to absence from school for religious observance.

HF 3587--Peterson--Provides for nonexclusionary pupil disciplinary policies and practices.

HF 3588--Lueck--Appropriates money to the Legislative Coordinating Commission to study feasibility of a program to authorize school districts borrowing from the permanent school fund.

HF 3589--Urdahl--Requires reporting on civics test questions.

HF 3590--Lee--Clarifies definition of a teacher.

HF 3591--Dettmer--Increases transportation revenue for school districts.

HF 3592--Pugh--Authorizes a fund transfer for Minnetonka School District.