A good time was had by all – Update for April 20

A good time was had by all – a terrific parent summit!
We were treated to a star-studded event! Governor Dayton, Senator Franken, Commissioner Cassellius, Senator Gen Olson, Representative Mindy Greiling, State Economist Dr. Tom Stinson and recently retired State Demographer Dr. Tom Gillaspy – what a line-up! And the AUDIENCE was the best!!!

  • “Mission accomplished. Per the usual, this conference was brimming with brilliance on public policy matters.” – Parent participant from Shoreview
  • “Just want to thank you and your staff for once again giving us a day full of learning about our schools and most of all the future of our schools and students.” – Grandparents for Education, Owatonna
  • “I always love the warm welcome. Everyone makes me feel as if my time and little bit of involvement really does matter.” – St. Louis Park parent
  • “If you want to get informed, log on, connect with Parents United!” – Summit participant

If you weren’t able to join us you can find Drs. Stinson and Gillaspy’s presentation and all of the resources on our site, including Sen. Franken’s video message about his work for education at the federal level. And Dick Bernard’s blog post does a great job providing the tenor of the day. (Full disclosure: Dick is one of Parents United’s wonderful founders.)

At the Capitol – Update for April 16-20

Bills continue on their path to the governor’s desk
(Things can change rapidly – follow Mary on Twitter for the most current information.)

The omnibus education bill (HF2949 DE-A12 0946 Summary) is currently being conferenced. The committee began early Thursday morning and, after accepting the non-controversial items in the conference report, was recessed at the call of the chair. Throughout the day we were told they were “working to yes” but a bit after 8:00 p.m. the committee adjourned until 9:00 a.m. Friday. We will continue to track the progress of the bill. Conference committee members are Senators Olson, Stumpf, Bonoff, Chamberlain and Hann; Representatives are Garofalo, Anderson, Loon, Erickson, and Dittrich.

What does this mean? At 8:00 a.m. on Thursday the lead conferees from the Senate and the House decided which provisions in their bills they wanted to include in a final K12 Omnibus bill and so produced a “conference report.” Then the committee respectfully listened to the concerns of the Commissioner of Education at the early morning hearing and passed just the provisions where she had few or no concerns. They worked on and off during the day negotiating those controversial provisions trying to find common ground. Meanwhile, it was up to Chair Garofalo to reconvene the committee or not. They thought they could finish Thursday evening so continued to tell folks to hang in there. It seems that they weren’t able to finish negotiating so, finally, the chair decided to adjourn the committee and call them back into a hearing on Friday morning.

Other bills:

  • HF2506 (Loon) – CPR training and staff development elimination is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
  • On Wednesday the House passed HF2580 (Loon) known as the parent trigger law 72-57. The Senate companion is still listed in the Education Committee.
  • Conferees are negotiating HF2244 (School Trust Lands) and it appears that will be completed very soon.
  • The HF1870 (LIFO bill) conference committee report was completed before spring recess. It needs to pass through both chambers one last time before heading to the Governor’s desk. Senate and House leaders decide when it will be brought to the floor for a vote.

One section I am happy to see in the omnibus bill…
There is a provision allowing students who were required to pass the now defunct Basic Skills Test an avenue by which to graduate.

…and a few sections deemed controversial that you may find interesting:

  • A provision requiring the annual principal evaluation to include student academic growth as 35% of the evaluation.
  • A provision allowing for an initial charter school contract term to be five years rather than the three years in current law.
  • A provision allowing for 10th, 11th and 12th graders to enroll in a career and technical course at a MnSCU school. 10th graders are required to have passed the 8th grade reading MCA in order to be eligible for this opportunity.

A Look Ahead
Time will tell, but it is running short. The next five days or so will be very interesting. We will be tracking as things change and will host a Brown Bag update on Monday, April 23 at Noon. Just call in to hear what is happening.

Ask Your Legislators! Question/Comment of the Week
Have you congratulated Rep. Greiling and Sen. Olson yet for their award for a lifetime of Distinguished Leadership in Education?

Constitutional Amendments
No new constitutional amendments were adopted this week.

Forward this on to encourage others to Learn • Network • Act!

New @ the Website

  • The New Normal: A demographer and an economist explain what Minnesota has to do to survive – Leave it to a demographer and an economist to stir things up. “Looking into the future, things aren’t all that great,” said state economist Tom Stinson, but the New Normal “plays to our strengths” as a state. According to just-retired state demographer Tom Gillaspy, the state’s population is aging, but that can offer positive opportunities as well as costs. The two offered their insights at the Parents United for Public Schools 10th Annual Leadership Summit, Twin Cities Daily Planet, April 19, 2012.

  • Asian Pacific Students in Minnesota: Facts, not Fiction – A new report that counters the widely held misconception that all Asian Pacific students were performing at levels well above other minority students, and thus were not as deserving of additional support, Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans, March 2012.

  • A film screening on bullying and what we can do about it will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

Mary Cecconi, Executive Director
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.orgEmail Mary at mary@parentsunited.org

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