I am a public school graduate – Update for March 30

/ 30 March 2012 / jennifer

Monday morning, April 16, 2012

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At the Capitol – Update for March 26-30

I am a public school graduate…

Over the coming months Parents United will feature stories of Minnesota public school graduates to highlight the role public schools have had in their success. We are grateful for the quality public school experience Minnesota provided for these graduates and we work to ensure that our state does so for every student long into the future – because great public schools benefit everyone.

Yup! Another House K12 Education Finance Omnibus bill

Since the first K12 Finance Omnibus bill (HF2083) was in conference committee, it was a bit surprising to see a second one – but I can think of a couple of reasons for a second vehicle:

  • The Senate would not accept a K12 Education Finance Omnibus bill with policy in it; and/or
  • It provides an opportunity to present a “clean bill” – one that has no “poison pills” in it: you support the one provision in the bill – or not!

So here comes… HF2949, the second Omnibus bill. There was a Delete Everything* amendment presented by the author and several amendments were attempted by committee members.

And the amendments…

Two amendments that did not pass, DE5-A10 and DE5-A11, both offered by Rep. Mariani, are worth revisiting. The first was requested from the Minnesota Department of Education. There are 200 Minnesota students that can graduate ONLY if they pass the now defunct Basic Skills Test; they are mandated to pass that test. So, without this amendment, they have no way to graduate. Chair Garofalo spoke in opposition to the amendment saying he was not interested in passing anything that was in the Department’s bill until “the Commissioner comes and walks us through it. At this point, we have not found a time.”

The second amendment attempted to place the recommendations of the Integration Task Force on the table. **

This Task Force was convened through statute by this legislature last year, yet since the required report was provided in February 2012, there has never been a hearing on the recommendations of that report. Rep. Mariani applauded the bi-partisan work of the Task Force and the in-depth recommendations that had been agreed to.

Chair Garofalo rejected the second amendment saying he believed the issue was too big to deal with in an amendment and that it needed a full committee hearing. As the lead minority member, Rep. Greiling asked when that hearing would be “since bill deadlines are fast approaching and if anything is to be done this year it needs to be done quickly.” Chair Garofalo said he was negotiating with the Senate to hold a joint integration hearing. When pushed, he said he would hold a committee hearing on the topic before the spring recess. We look forward to that hearing – it will be the first time the Integration Task Force will testify. (Learn more.)

The amended HF2949 passed on to the Ways and Means Committee – you can watch Rep. Garofalo present it in video (below) and read a summary of the second K12 Education Finance Omnibus bill.

*Civics 101: This happens all the time so what is a DE amendment? A hearing is held on a bill and, when heard, the author provides a Delete Everything amendment. This does just what it implies – deleting everything from the original bill and substituting language the author wants. When a DE is substituted, the committee treats the Delete Everything amendment as the bill and if members wish to offer provisions they are amending HF2949DE5. Those amendments that pass will be “engrossed” in the bill as it moves on its way. This is why you see 1st engrossment or 2nd engrossment versions of the bill.

Conference Committees Abound

HF1870 – “Last in, first out”

Education Commissioner Cassellius was the sole testifier at the only HF1870 conference committee actually held this week. Often scheduled, the conference committee was cancelled more times than it was convened. The Commissioner’s testimony reiterated the concerns she had shared in this letter sent to the co-chairs. Once again, the committee is scheduled to meet Monday, April 2, 1PM.

HF2083 – K12 Education Finance Omnibus bill

In the shortest conference committee in memory, committee members walked in with a conference committee report prepared, signed it and adjourned the meeting. Prior to the meeting, it had been rumored that leadership in the House and Senate had made this deal, so it was no surprise. All policy that HAD been in the bill was stripped. Using the $430 million that by law replenished depleted state reserves, HF2083 re-establishes school payments to the 70/30 level of 2011. (Actually this bill pays schools 70.2% in the current year and 29.8% the next, thereby allowing legislators to say this bill is BETTER than 2011 shifts. Seriously? I bet you will hear that.)

Ways and Means Committee – One to Watch

On their last steps to the Governor’s desk, several education bills this week were processed through Ways and Means. The committee hearing from March 28 is a great one to watch because authors come forward and present bills to members who may not have heard them before. The interplay is excellent and a wonderful primer for those who want to hear the author’s explanations of the bill. Note the interplay between Rep. Champion and Rep. Garofalo over HF2580.

Bills @ the Capitol

HF2949 (Garofalo) Early childhood and kindergarten through grade 12 policy and finance provisions modified, reports required, and money appropriated. There is a delete-all amendment for HF2949: **DE5-A11 Amendment DE5-A6 Amendment DE-A7 Amendment DE5-A10 Amendment HF2949-DE5 Amendment DE5-A1 Amendment DE5-A3 Amendment**

A Look Ahead

  • I just picked up an email that Chair Garofalo will hold an Integration hearing on Wednesday, April 4, but it is not yet on the official schedule.

  • The next conference committee on HF1870 (LIFO) is newly scheduled for Monday at 1:00 PM.

  • Surprisingly, there are several Senate Education committee hearings scheduled for next week with agendas to be determined – it will be interesting to see what is discussed.

Ask Your Legislators! Question/Comment of the Week

Background on this week’s question: While speaking with a school board member this week, I was reminded that paying back the school shift provides no “new” money to schools – it simply accelerates the payments. Current state statute requires a budget “surplus” be used to replenish the state reserves to a certain level before paying back schools. (An analogy is a parent being advised to place an oxygen mask on her own face before placing one on her child; that always seemed strange to me, but the logic is clear.)

Question for your legislator:

What do you think of using the state reserves to pay back schools?

Constitutional Amendments

Barring litigation, it looks like the Voter ID amendment will be placed on the November ballot.

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

It is always good to check At the Capitol often to see what’s on the agenda and check to make sure the meeting is still scheduled.

If you are interested in attending a committee meeting and would like to meet with me at the same time, just email me at mary@parentsunited.org to arrange it.


New @ the Website

  • Parents United board member Mary Ellen DeBois headed to national Mom Congress! “There are many moms in Minnesota doing great things to support our local schools and I feel very fortunate to be given this opportunity to connect with moms from across the country, to learn new skills and to become more effective at supporting our local schools and all of our students,” Maple Grove Patch.

  • U.S. Senator Franken Announces “My Experience as a Military Child” poetry contest – In recognition of the Military Child and National Poetry Month in April. The theme of the contest will be “My Experience as a Military Child.” Senator Franken hopes to recognize not only the Minnesota men and women who serve, but also the extraordinary sacrifices of their families as well, Office of Senator Franken, March 29, 2012.

  • Lawmakers agree on stripped-down bill to repay borrowed school funds – Rep. Pat Garofalo passes a bill through conference committee that would begin paying back Minnesota’s $2.4 billion debt to schools…. Now the measure goes back to both chambers for final passage, MinnPost, March 29, 2012.

  • Second omnibus education bill unveiled – A second education omnibus bill has advanced in the House after receiving committee approval. The House Education Finance Committee sent HF2949 to the House Ways and Means Committee. Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista) sponsors SF2482, the companion that awaits action by the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, Session Daily, March 27, 2012.

  • Mitch Pearlstein: Connecting family and achievement gap – Mitch Pearlstein, president and founder of the Minneapolis-based Center of the American Experiment, published a book last fall that immediately lit up chat rooms and list-servs…. The book, according to its introduction, “connects dots that have never been adequately connected before: family fragmentation…[ellipses in the original] how that leads to educational weakness…how that, in turn, leads to economic weakness…how that results in a loss of U.S. economic competitiveness…and how they all lead to growing and very disturbing class cleavages,” MinnPost, March 27, 2012.
Mary Cecconi, Executive Director
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
www.parentsunited.orgEmail Mary at mary@parentsunited.org</p>

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