On April 24, the Minnesota State Senate discussed and voted on the Senate’s K-12 education policy bill as well as a separate K-12 education appropriations (funding) bill. Both bills passed off the floor and are headed into conference committee alongside the House’s K-12 education omnibus finance and policy bill.
The discussions began with an introduction by the education policy bill’s chief author Senator Steve Cwodzinski (49) who said that teacher’s COVID experience has impacted legislator’s priorities and the bill’s contents. This has forced legislators to reconsider the holistic needs of students rather than just their academic needs. He also spoke about the role student voices had in the bill creation process and in committee discussions.
“We had more students testify this year in committee than in my previous six years combined,” Cwodzinski said.
A number of amendments were offered on the bill including an amendment aimed at stripping the bill of its ethnic studies requirement and a second amendment aimed at replacing the ethnic studies language with something more race/ethnicity-neutral. Both amendments were offered by Senator Jim Abeler (35) who withdrew both amendments after lengthy conversation.
Several other amendments were offered including an amendment around the new unemployment insurance requirement for districts which many education support professionals have been lobbying for. An amendment requiring that civics classes be taught in Minnesota’s public schools also passed.
The education policy omnibus bill passed off the Senate floor. It will now be heard in the House Education Finance Committee.
The education appropriation bill also passed off the Senate floor. A conference committee of five senators is tasked with bringing together the differences between the House and Senate bills .The House has one combined policy and budget bill, while the Senate has two separate bills.