Parents United Updates

Fewer bills, greater deliberation – Update for Feb. 22, 2013

It appears that committee chairs are hearing fewer bills but taking more time to deliberate issues surrounding those bills. The history and intent of a bill, the research and evidence as to its efficacy, and the trend data of outcomes are being unveiled and debated.

Governor’s education budget draws kudos and concerns

Multiple committees spent the majority of the week pouring over the Governor’s budget HF630/SF453 clarifying his proposals. While the current focus has been on dollars, several provisions in the Governor’s education finance bill have policy implications I expect will be thoroughly vetted in House and Senate Policy. This bill will more than likely be the basis for the 2013 Education Omnibus Bill.

Testimony from education organizations brought kudos and concerns. The priorities of the budget garnered the most compliments—increased dollars for pre-school, All Day K, reduction in cross subsidy for special education, providing dollars to implement the new teacher evaluation system and a 1% increase on the per pupil formula.

One of the greatest concerns continues to be for stability and equity. Many groups referred to theEducation Finance Working Group recommendation to reinstate the general education levy as a mechanism to provide those components and were troubled by its absence.

However, as one testifier put it—these are wonderful placeholders, but the increases are too little. Another was worried that a change in the method the state uses to counts students will give the appearance that the formula increases by $500, when the actual increase is $52. A very interesting statement came when the Minnesota School Boards Association raised the issue of the impact of sequestration. That federal action—or inaction–will cause school cuts of 5.8%.    Read More……

Sweeping issues, compelling testimony – Update for Feb. 15, 2013

Teacher licensure – MTLE replaces Praxis, but what was the reason?

The Praxis, widely used in the nation, is a series of tests that teacher candidates take to assure a state licensing agency that the candidate possesses the basic skills necessary to teach. “All of the content and skills in the three Praxis tests are expected to have been mastered in P-12 education, are covered in all states’ P-12 standards and the Common Core Standards and therefore cover skills that do not exceed a high school level” (joint report published by MEA and ETS, 2011).

In 2007-08, The Board of Teaching, a body comprised of 11 members appointed by the governor, was looking “in earnest at what a reasonable expectation was for teachers in Minnesota.” Their decision, as well as that of Commissioner Seagren, was to hire Pearson Testing to create a test exclusively for Minnesota teaching candidates written at a “college-experienced level.” During testimony this week, the Board of Teaching’s Executive Director was asked, fairly repeatedly, what impetus there was for this change, what data was used to indicate that the Praxis wasn’t working. It was disturbing that there had been no data, no reason other than conversations that Minnesota teachers should have high skill level. The timing of the decision was driven by a time crunch: changing tests required complying with a timeline for the public bidding process so a “request for proposal” could be made from a new test company.

So what’s been the outcome for Minnesota?   See more…..

Constancy, Reflection and Evaluation – Update for Feb. 8, 2013

“Unfortunately, avoiding financial problems usually makes them worse”

When the Governor presented his third State of the State address Wednesday night he listed cuts to K12 funding, firefighters and hospitals, asking, “Are we better off today after all those reductions? I’d say no.” His budget outlines investments in education across the continuum of a child’s education – early care, early childhood, All Day K, K-12 and higher education; his budget also moves the state closer to paying its commitment to special education costs. He was quite clear that this work to reverse recent disinvestments does not happen without new revenue, and kicking the can down the road is not an option: “Unfortunately, avoiding financial problems usually makes them worse.” Read more..


Racial Equity, Funding Equity, Equity of Outcomes – Update for Feb. 1, 2013

Parents United – a busy week in the news!

“Can Do” attitude surrounds the Capitol

The mood around the Capitol is one of “Can Do!” Many committees are taking the time to talk about large issues and defining what they see as possible. So often, time constraints force legislators into narrowing their focus onto passage or failure of specific bills before being able to consider the context and complexity of issues. This is refreshing!  See more…

Priorities become clear – Update for Jan. 25, 2013

Interested in weighing in on All Day K?

» Thursday, January 31, 8:30 AM, Senate E12 Division, Capitol 112

The discussion will be on voluntary All Day Kindergarten (SF2) and an alternative bill, yet unnumbered, that allows for those dollars to be used for Pre-K. If you are interested in testifying, please call me.

The Governor’s budget

As expected, the Governor’s budget was released on Tuesday, January 22. His priorities for Minnesota are clearly delineated in his budget. It shows a wonderful commitment to children and their education. Along with additional dollars on the formula – an impact for every student in the state – he proposes specific investments in early learning, English learners, bullying prevention, special education and the implementation of the new teacher evaluation process signed into law last year. Through other budget proposals he also invests in higher education, child homelessness, children’s mental health issues, school safety and quality care for children with disabilities. This budget provides the largest unencumbered increase in school funding that I have seen in many, many years.

The one concern expressed by several organizations is the question of funding equity. There was great hope that the general education levy would be reinstated as a method to stabilize school funding, but that was not in the Governor’s proposal.  See more…


A Week Well Spent – Update for January 18

Important Date: January 22 – Release of the Governor’s Budget 

A Week of Learning

It was a week well spent as members of both House and Senate education finance committees delved deeply into the basics of school funding.

After hearing members’ goals for this year, House Education Finance Chair Marquart asked staff to present information on the topics that arose as fiscal priorities for members:

  • Supporting student performance and reducing achievement gaps
  • Adequacy of school funding
  • Equity of school funding
  • Special education adequacy
  • Paying back the school shift

Read more….

And so it begins – Update for January 11

Welcome to the 2013 Legislative Session! 

Parents United for Public Schools is a Minnesota-based, homegrown, grassroots parent-led organization. We exist to unite and empower those who value public education to be strong advocates for excellence in our public schools.

This is our tenth year providing these weekly updates to readers in each of Minnesota’s 134 legislative districts. The intent of our missives is to be your eyes and ears in the halls of the Minnesota State Capitol – attending House and Senate education committee hearings, tracking bills and keeping you apprised of what is happening. If you want to be involved in these happenings, we are happy to help! You are one of a great many individuals who wish to be “in the know” about legislation that will impact our schools and the students they serve. We are happy you are here.  Read more…