State legislators discussed legislation to support heritage language teachers at a meeting of the Senate Education Policy committee on Feb. 8. 

Senate File 663, authored by Sen. Mary Kunesh (DFL - District 39), aims to increase the number of heritage language and culture teachers in the State of Minnesota. 

“Language matters spiritually, it matters culturally, it matters emotionally, and it matters educationally,” said Sen. Kunesh. 

Senate File 663 would require, among other things, Minnesota’s Professional Educator and Licensure Standards Board to develop a teacher pathway program for heritage language and culture teachers, with a specific focus on Hmong, Somali, and Spanish-language teachers. The bill would also require that PELSB provide a yearlong mentorship program for these teachers, monthly meetings to support portfolio-building, and a fee waiver for portfolio and licensure testing. You can read the bill and check out its specific asks here. 

A motion to send the bill on to Senate Education Finance, which happens to be chaired by Sen. Kunesh, was unanimously agreed upon. 

Also discussed this week was a recently released report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor, which recently completed an audit of the State of Minnesota’s oversight practices when it comes to state-funded grants. The report focused on non-profit organizations funded by either the Minnesota Department of Education or the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. It is unknown, yet, what the implementation of recommendations noted in the bill will actually look like and what those recommendations might mean to school districts, but it is likely a discussion to pay attention to, as MPS (like all school districts) received state-funded grants for programming. 

Here is what’s on the calendar for next week: 

Legislative Calendar: Feb. 13 - Feb. 17

  • On Monday, in the Senate Education Policy committee, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL - District 39) will be introducing a bill aimed at increasing educational outcomes for students of color. You can find the bill information here. This committee will not be available to watch virtually. 
  • On Tuesday, in the Senate Education Finance committee, Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL - District 39) will present legislation aimed at increasing teachers of color across the State of Minnesota. The legislation was already heard in the Senate Education Policy committee. This committee hearing will be available to watch virtually - more information here
  • Also on Tuesday, the House Education Policy committee has several big bills on the agenda. Representative Josiah Hill (DFL - District 33B) will introduce two separate bills related to teacher licensure. And Representative Sandra Feist (DFL - District 39B) will introduce legislation aimed at requiring data related to student literacy. 

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.