This week at the legislature several MPS community members testified on the Read Act, which advocates for increased literacy support for Minnesota’s public school students. The Read Act was introduced by Rep. Edelson (DFL - District 50A) and aims to increase Minnesota's literacy rates among K-12 students. The bill would require that Minnesota schools use approved literacy curriculum and appropriate funding for literacy specialists. 

“Only 50% of Minnesota students are reading at grade level,” said Edelson. “We absolutely can do better.” 

Edelson noted that the bill will have some adjustments and clarifications before it is sent on to the House Education Finance committee. Specifically the bill will define “literacy” and what literacy means for the Minnesota Department of Education. 

Nafeeshah Muhammed, a former Henry High School English teacher currently on leave and working for Educators for Excellence as the Deputy Director of Campaigns, spoke at the meeting. Muhammedspoke at the meeting in favor of the legislation and data-backed English curriculum. 

Aside from the Read Act, the legislature discussed several other major education-related bills this week.

  • On Monday, the Senate Education Policy committee discussed a bill from Sen. Kunesh (DFL - District 39) that would establish accountability and appropriate funding for a pilot program aimed at improving educational outcomes.  The committee meeting was not streamed but you can learn more about the bill and read more from its testifiers here. One major advocate: Pillsbury United Communities.
  • On Tuesday, the Senate Education Finance committee heard Sen. Kunesh’s (DFL - District 39) bill to increase the number of teachers of color in Minnesota’s public schools.
  • Also on Tuesday, the House Education Policy committee heard the aforementioned READ Act and two bills around teacher licensure.

Finally, on Tuesday, the Senate Capital Investment committee heard the “Safe Routes to School” bill. The companion bill was heard on Wednesday in the House Capital Investment committee. The “Safe Routes to School” legislation aims to support Minnesota’s existing Safe Routes to School program, a program aimed at increasing pedestrian safety for students in Minnesota, as well as walk-and-bike-friendly streets for students. 

As for next week, here’s what’s on the agenda:

On Feb. 20 at 12:30pm, the Senate Education Policy committee is hearing Senate File 476, which would mandate climate justice instruction in Minnesota school districts and schools. 

On Feb. 21 at 10:30am, the House Education Finance committee will be hearing several bills focused on school funding. 

On Feb. 22 at 10:30am, the House Education Finance committee will be hearing House File 58, which would ban suspension or expulsion of students in kindergarten through 3rd grade but for certain circumstances. 

On Feb. 23 at 8:30am, the Senate Education Finance committee is discussing funding for full-service community schools. 

Just a reminder that you can visit the Minnesota State Legislature weekly calendar to see what’s on the agenda for the various committees and floor sessions each week. Additionally, you can check that schedule each day to figure out what committees are available to be viewed virtually.