Constancy, Reflection and Evaluation – Update for Feb. 8, 2013

/ 8 February 2013 / eunice

“Unfortunately, avoiding financial problems usually makes them worse”

When the Governor presented his third State of the State __address Wednesday night he listed cuts to K12 funding, firefighters and hospitals, asking, “Are we better off today after all those reductions? I’d say no.” His budget outlines investments in education across the continuum of a child’s education – early care, early childhood, All Day K, K-12 and higher education; his budget also moves the state closer to paying its commitment to special education costs. He was quite clear that this work to reverse recent disinvestments does not happen without new revenue, and kicking the can down the road is not an option: “Unfortunately, avoiding financial problems usually makes them worse.”

It’s a different world – E-16 alignment

Here is a statistic often cited at the Capitol: “In the near future, 70% of jobs will require some post-secondary education.” With post-secondary and career readiness coming of age, there is a great deal of work happening in Minnesota to align early childhood education, K12 and higher education. This work was recently highlighted in Education Week.

At a senate hearing this week Dr. Steve Rosenstone, MN SCU Chancellor; Larry Pogemiller, Director of the Office of Higher Education and Education Commissioner Cassellius outlined their E-16 alignment plan, which will redesign high schools, create a stronger pipeline for student learning, and require several state level policy changes.

The plan grew out of high school redesign work already happening in Minnesota over the last years, as well as Chancellor Rosenstone’s recent meetings with Minnesota employers. Dr. Rosenstone and Mr. Pogemiller were emphatic about the needs employers consistently defined: specific skill sets, innovation, creativity and the ability to adapt to change. Employers want “the whole package – people who can communicate well, relate to customers, work with teams and be creative.” Dr. Rosenstone heard “loud and clear” that employers want graduates with “hands-on experience,” so the need is there for apprenticeships, internships, more concurrent enrollment models and expanded PSEO opportunities.

The chancellor mentioned often a need to “grow our own human capital” and provide more students help “to get where they need to go to have sustainable wages and attract more business into our state.” Answering a senator’s question about what it will take, he answered, “a multi-layered, sustained approach with key investments and policy changes.”

Commissioner Cassellius asked whether, in the re-designed model, assessments and course requirements would be the same for each student. And she stressed that with “content available on smart phones,” teachers are not the only deliverers of knowledge, so use of knowledge and problem solving is the role of the future classroom; high schools will include individualized learning plans for each student. One high school (Irondale) is already using** __four-year personalized learning plans** to help students create an aligned pathway to their post-secondary options.

Commissioner of Education Confirmed by Senate

On a 45-20 vote Thursday, Dr. Brenda Cassellius was confirmed by the Senate as Minnesota’s Commissioner of Education. The roll call vote is listed on page 177 of the Senate Journal for February 7, 2013. Legislative note: Only the Senate confirms the Governor’s appointments. The House has no say in this process.

Integration aid – a study in state level policy making

House and Senate education committees held a joint hearing focused on integration aid this week. Members raised questions about equitable distribution of dollars (a legislative decision) and the efficacy and evaluation of the programs, areas dealt with in the recommendations of the Integration Revenue Replacement Task Force. Rep. Carlos Mariani commented on what it took for legislators to devise policy. Saying education policy requires “constancy, reflection and evaluation” he referenced the Massachusetts legislature for their work in incorporating these components in their policy work.

The task force’s recommendations included: creating the Achievement and Integration for Minnesota (AIM) program; ensuring accountability and oversight at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) to ensure districts are effectively using, reporting and measuring the effectiveness of the revenue; clearly focusing and defining limited uses of AIM revenue, including having districts submit plans, develop measurable goals, and define budgets that limit the funds’ use; examining the merits of one collaborative metropolitan integration school district that folds in the services of the existing integration districts to create efficiencies and eliminate duplication of services.

The task force also submitted fiscal recommendations: cap the existing revenue program at the current level; level the fiscal disparities between demographically similar districts; set aside .02% of revenue for oversight and accountability at MDE; create a fiscal model that is predictable over time in stable two-year increments; and define percentages of allowable expenditures in statute.

What ideas are legislators thinking about?

While not many bills have had committee hearings during this first five weeks, that’s not a bad thing! This year, the education committees are taking time to listen to and query the recommendations of multiple task forces and state agencies. There are also conversations about implementation of laws passed in prior sessions. A long-time survivor of the legislative process commented on legislators passing laws for the sake of “doing something” and said sometimes the wisest thing legislators can do is “step away from the table.”

It is interesting to see the education bills that have been introduced and may be called up later for hearings; we’ll keep a running list on our website. Senate Introductions   House Introductions

We Day comes to Minnesota

The official launch for We Day Minnesota took place on Wednesday at Patrick Henry High School. Students from multiple school districts gathered to learn about an amazing international movement to empower young people to change the world!  A 17-year initiative founded by two teenage brothers determined to help young people make significant changes in their world, the event is now moving beyond its original Canadian borders. Minnesota has been selected as the first state in our nation where We Day will expand.

A Look Ahead

School shifts, teacher licensure exams, ECFE and parent education classes, school lunches and the governor’s budget! All next week!! Stay tuned. Minnesota State Legislature Combined Calendar

If you would like to plan a Capitol visit and need a little help – call us!!! It is always a good idea to check the House/Senate schedule the morning of your visit. Hearings and agendas are often changed.

Bills heard this week

House Education Finance

  • HF165 (Slocum) Students in approved recovery programs; additional funding sources created.

House Education Policy

  • HF34 (Erickson) Teacher licensure requirements modified.
  • HF171 (Ward) K-12 teachers; requirement repealed for teachers to pass a basic skills examination in reading, writing, and mathematics as a condition for receiving a teaching license.

Senate Education

  • SF 160 (Wiger) Compulsory school attendance age increase

What Can I Do?

We are often asked, “How can I stay informed and share information with my friends?” Great question, since that is what we are all about – sharing the information. I spend the session attending each education committee hearing so you know what’s happening. Our advice?

  1. Read these weekly Updates.
  2. Forward them on to two (or more) friends.
  3. Ask your friends to sign on and receive the Updates directly.
  4. Become a friend of Parents United on Facebook.
  5. Follow us on Twitter.
  6. If you are interested in attending a committee meeting and would like company, just email me to arrange it.


Mary Cecconi, Executive Director
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, MN 55108