May 9, 2008

/ 9 May 2008 / Parents United
May 9, 2008

Update for May 5-9, 2008
— From Mary Cecconi, Executive Director


The New Minnesota Miracle Bill
is being taken out to
regional meetings throughout the state.

Attend a hearing near you!


Important Date
Monday, May 19 2008
The Legislature is set to adjourn

“The world is run by those who show up.”

In This Issue

At the Capitol
Next Week at the Capitol
What Can I Do?


What is happening at the Capitol?

As for policy: We have an Omnibus Education Policy Bill. Late Monday night, SF3001 passed through the conference committee and passed on both floors this week. It is on its way to the Governor’s office, where it will be signed into law or vetoed in its entirety. The chance of a veto is high; Gov. Pawlenty is adamantly opposed to the new accountability measure that the bill places in our state report card.

I believe that there are many provisions in this bill that are of great importance to our children. Two of them are the new accountability measures for the state report card and the provisions for our new pre-kindergarten and elementary teachers.** (see below)

The report card provides new accountability measures that show whether learning growth is happening at schools and helps us see whether all students are being challenged. The beauty of this is that accountability measures tend to focus most closely on our struggling children, so we pay less attention to whether children along the whole academic spectrum are being challenged; this new report card provides for a more complete picture of how our schools are doing.

Other important provisions deal with the training of our pre-kindergarten and elementary teachers. The reading competency provisions aid our new teachers in having more tools necessary to teach our youngest learners the most important skill they need—that of reading.

As for funding: The $51 per funding provision for our schools is still in limbo. The funding has been included in the overall supplemental budget omnibus bill. The Finance Conference Committee finalized that bill this week.

Instead of being sent to the House and Senate floors for a vote, it has been set aside so that it might be re-opened for final negotiations between the Governor and legislative leaders. This is all in their hands now.

In this issue

Highlights of the agreed upon bill, SF3001, the Omnibus Education Policy Bill:

  • The compulsory age for attending school is raised from 16 to 18 years of age.
  • One-half credit in Physical Education is a required academic standard in high school; requirement begins with students who enter 9th grade in the 2009-10 school year and later. There is a waiver provision for this standard.
  • Colleges and universities approved by the Board of Teaching to prepare candidates for administrative licensure must provide the opportunity for candidates to acquire competencies in administrating gifted and talented programs.
  • Colleges and universities approved by the Board of Teaching to prepare candidates for teacher licensure must provide the opportunity for them to acquire competencies in recognizing and providing classroom services for gifted and talented students.
  • **Defines the five strands of reading-phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary development and reading comprehension.
  • **Colleges and universities approved by the Board of Teaching to prepare candidates for pre-kindergarten or elementary licensure must prepare candidates for an assessment of reading instruction consistent with the five strands and requires of those candidates the successful completion of a reading assessment consistent with those five strands.
  • Those enrolled in a teacher preparation programs need to receive instruction in historical and cultural competencies.
  • The Board of Teaching must periodically review and approve preparation sequence of competencies in administering gifted and talented programs.
  • Requires online learning providers to submit to the MDE written assurance that their programs meet nationally recognized professional standards.
  • Charter school provision.
  • Names ice hockey as the state sport.
  • Sets an expectation that students be present and participate in the required school safety drills.
  • Allows for schools to participate in wind energy partnerships.
  • Provides for the participation of two legislators on the P-20 Partnership.
  • Calls for the establishment of statewide technology standards for instruction, administration and data sharing.
  • **Calls for the statewide accountability tool—our statewide “report card”—to include a growth-based value-added indicator of student achievement. Included are criteria for identifying schools and districts that demonstrate accelerated growth.
  • Provides for an advisory task force to identify strategies that will improve the integration of secondary and post-secondary academic and career education.
  • Requirement for the MDE to report to the legislature on its efforts to add a computer adaptive assessment that adds formative analytics to the MCA.

In this issue


A Look Ahead at the Week of May 12

Committee meetings and bills scheduled to be heard change frequently! Be sure to check the daily schedule of hearings and agendas.

There is one week left until the Legislature must adjourn. The balancing of the budget has taken center stage for the last several weeks and will continue to do so until the bitter end. The Omnibus Education Policy Bill will be signed or vetoed.

In this issue

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What Can I Do?

This Education Omnibus Policy Bill is the final result of months of legislative contemplation and negotiation; when it passes off the Senate and House floors for the final time it will have been vetted by hundreds of legislators. However, the bill will not be placed into statute until and unless the Governor signs it. This is an all or nothing veto: Either he signs it or all of the provisions fail. I would encourage you to send your thoughts along to Governor Pawlenty.

Coming to a Hearing near you!!
We know that limping along gaining less than inflation on our school funding formula is getting us nowhere. It is causing us to cut programs and increase local levies. It’s time for that to stop—but how?

The House and Senate deliberations over the last year have resulted in: HF4178 (Greiling), Modifying the school finance system and creating a new education funding framework (the “New Minnesota Miracle”). House and Senate members will be holding hearings on this bill over the next months around the state. The first three planned hearings have just been scheduled.

What can you do? Attend one of these hearings and learn more about this bill–and bring a friend!! Here’s a link to all the information. Hearings currently scheduled:

  • Wednesday, May 28, 2008 7:00 PM, Champlin
  • Tuesday, June 10, 2008 7:00 PM, White Bear Lake
  • Monday, June 16, 2008 7:00 PM, Brainerd

In this issue

“That the public understands that funding is the greatest problem facing the schools will have no practical significance unless we can find ways to translate this sentiment into better funding for schools. The day is gone when school people could concentrate on operating schools and leave others to take care of funding. School leaders, teachers, and parents have no choice but to become lobbyists for their schools. They are the best advocates for public schooling.”            —from 39th Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll


Questions? Email Mary Cecconi

Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108

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