Know the Issues

In order to speak or write effectively about an issue, you must have accurate information and stay abreast of the latest developments. Unfortunately, education issues are complex and the learning curve is steep.

Where to Start

Step 1.  Learn About the Issues

Parents United provides resources to help you learn about emerging education issues at Education Issues and News & Events.  In addition, you can sign up to receive Weekly Updates and Action Alerts by subscribing to the Parents United E-List.

Parents United was also part of the 2011 Commissioner’s Education Finance Working Group which recommended 12 strategies to help Minnesota develop a school funding formula that is rationally linked to student learning.

Step 2.  Monitor the Media
Watch what’s being reported in the media to learn about the issues and get to know which media outlets support your cause.  The Parents United News Archive provides links to timely education news.

Step 3.  Learn About the Work of the Key Education Committees

Step 4.  Bill Tracking—Getting Down to Brass Tacks
There are a few different ways you can monitor the progress of bills during the legislative session.

Minnesota State Legislature

  1. Tips and resources to follow a bill through the legislative process can be found at How to Follow a Bill.
  2. For bill introductions and tracking use Minnesota Legislation & Bill Status.
  3. To follow specific bills set up a “MyBills” subscription.
  4. For the financial impacts of bills (what’s this going to cost?), check the resources offered by House Fiscal Analysis and the Senate Office of Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis who support the work of the committees by preparing fiscal analyses and budget tracking spreadsheets.
  5. Open : States provides resources to research legislators, bills and legislative committees in Minnesota.

Community Based Organizations

  1. House and Senate Loggers - A weekly digest of all bills introduced relating to education and the operation of school districts while the Minnesota Legislature is in session; maintained by the Minnesota School Boards Association;
  2. AMSD tracks bills related to K-12 legislative proposals at their Legislative Updates page;
  3. ThinkSmall provides updates on early childhood legislation; and the
  4. Minnesota Chamber of Commerce offers a Legislative Bill Tracker on Education.

Voting Records

  1. Legislator Voting Records and Ratings - Find out how legislators voted, Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.
  2. Minnesota Public Radio maintains Votetracker, a log of key votes taken in committees and on the House and Senate floor.
  3. Keep an eye on which bills are sent to the Governor at the Governor’s Legislation Page.

To get a sense of the broader conversation it can be helpful to scroll through the bill summaries prepared by House Research and Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis.

Resources for Federal Legislation

  1. Thomas.gov - Legislative information from the Library of Congress.
  2. Hot Bills in Education - Education bills getting the most attention from members of Congress and the public, OpenCongress.org.

After a Bill Becomes Law

  1. You can look it up in Current Minnesota Statutes maintained by the Office of the Revisor of Statutes.
  2. And check for Law Summaries prepared by the Minnesota Department of Education after the legislative session closes.

More Information

How to Read a Bill - Preview this “how to” video to learn how to read a bill, Minnesota Senate Media Services.