The Minnesota State Legislature took up several bills pertinent to school funding and Minneapolis Public Schools this week and MPSers were out in droves testifying in committee, promoting the need to fund MPS and different programs and policies to support MPS.
Here some of what’s on the calendar for next week:
On Tuesday the Senate Education Finance committee took up several bills that are pertinent to MPS community members, and several MPS community members were there to advocate for those bills. The first bill on the docket was Senator Mary Kunesh’s (DFL - District 39) class size reduction bill, Senate File 1881. Minneapolis Federation of Teachers President of the Teacher Chapter Greta Callahan, also an MPS parent and kindergarten teacher-on-release, testified in support of the bill.
“The most important resources in Minnesota classrooms are time and trusting relationships between students and educators. This bill will give us more of both,” said Callahan. “Students need one-on-one time with their teachers to make the connections that allow them to receive the education they deserve.”
The class size reduction is meant to allow for local control so that districts like MPS are able to negotiate their class size based on teacher and ESP availability, as well as based on their already existent class size. There was over an hour of discussion and testimony on the class size reduction bill and it was eventually laid over for possible inclusion in the Education Omnibus Bill.
Also discussed in the Senate Education Finance committee was the ESP Bill of Rights and Early Childhood Family Education. The ESP Bill of Rights, Senate File 1318, would require that school districts provide health insurance for all education support professionals, as well as a $25 health insurance, and paid orientation and professional development. It would also appropriate funding to each school district to fund the policy change and allow ESPs to access unemployment insurance in the summer months when ESPs are not paid, but have trouble finding other work.
While no MPS paraprofessionals spoke during the committee hearing on Senate File 1318, several spoke at a press conference following the committee about the ESP Bill of Rights.
“During the summer months, it is really hard and this bill would really help us feed our own children and take care of our own households and pay our bills,” said Catina Taylor, President of the Minneapolis Federation of Teachers ESP chapter. Taylor was joined by several other MPS ESPs.
On Wednesday, MPS community members were out in droves as they advocated for a fully-funded MPS as part of an education lobbying day sponsored by the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. MPS parents attended Senate Education Finance and House Education Finance, and they had the opportunity to meet with their elected representatives. They were also able to ask questions of Sen. Mary Kunesh (DFL - District 39) and Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL - District 46B).
The House Education Finance committee discussed five bills related to teacher licensure on Wednesday, March 8. The meeting began with a presentation by PELSB, the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, on all five bills. The five bills discussed are:
- House File 1137, authored by Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura (DFL - District 63A) which would provide funding for the number of “heritage language and culture teachers” in MN schools.
- House File 1138, also authored by Rep. Sencer-Mura, which would provide funding for a teacher residency pilot program.
- House File 1257, authored by Rep. Josiah Hill (DFL - District 33B), which would establish a short-call substitute teacher pilot program. It also seeks to remove and/or modify some of the teacher licensure requirements.
- House File 1268, also authored by Rep. Hill, which would make specific changes to teacher licensure and teacher preparation programs, as well as PELSB membership.
- House File 1224, also authored by Rep. Hill, which would change to the tiered licensure program for teachers.
Legislative Calendar: March 13 - 17
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.