Omnibus education bill nears finish line

/ 23 April 2012 / jennifer

Erin Schmidtke, Session Daily, April 23, 2012 –

The House passed a conference committee report on the second omnibus education bill of the session 119-9.

Awaiting Senate action, the report includes sections relating to veteran’s military pay, postsecondary enrollment options and payment to teachers charged with a felony.

Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington) and Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) are the sponsors.

One section would require school districts to pay employee salary differential to those who have been deployed in the National Guard or other reserves. Funds remaining at the end of the year could be used to pay for substitutes for the deployed employees. Current law oftentimes only results in partial payment to service members.

The report seeks to expand postsecondary enrollment options, as well. Currently, high school juniors and seniors may take classes at certain colleges while still completing high school. The bill would extend PSEO to 10th grade students by permitting them to enroll in career or technical courses at qualified postsecondary institutions. If a student receives a “C” or better in the class, he or she would be able to take additional credits at the school.

Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL-Mankato) expressed concern about a change to PSEO that would allow advertising of program options to students’ families.

“My concern is whether students would be appropriately counseled on whether this is right for them. I think the advertising might make the motivation more about free college credit and less about the academic wellbeing of the student,” she said.

Teachers who are charged with felonies would also be impacted by the report. Those under that type of investigation could be suspended without pay, pending the conclusion of a hearing. Proponents say that this will authorize schools to withhold salaries from those who may be dangerous to students.

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) voiced praise for the report’s approach to student testing as a measure of achievement.

“This demonstrates our need to be more flexible, multidimensional, and, frankly, fair to our students,” he said.

– Erin Schmidtke