Legislative Kick-off! And much more.

/ 18 December 2014 / Shawna

Parents United Annual Legislative Kick-off

Saturday, January 10, 2015, 9 – 11 am
TIES Main (East) Building, 3rd Floor Cafeteria
1667 Snelling Ave. N., St Paul, MN 55108
Coffee, rolls and conversation! The Kick-off is free, but please RSVP
This event will be live-streamed. 

Legislation Matters

As we deal with weather and holiday preparations, let’s remember an important year for education is right around the corner.

Each legislature works on a biennium – a two-year cycle. The first year is a budgeting year while the second year traditionally is a bonding year. January 6, 2015 begins the funding year of this biennium. The legislature’s job is to pass a balanced budget by the end of the fiscal year.

Since the state provides the lion’s share of funding for schools, whatever is decided during this legislative session is what schools will have to live on for the foreseeable future. Class size? Special programs? Classroom materials? Educational assistants? Counselors? Facilities? All have to do with the amount of dollars schools receive and that decision is made at the legislative level.

Keeping apprised of legislation matters! Just look at this list of changes in Minnesota’s schools that took effect this year – all determined during the last legislative session:

  • All Day Kindergarten
  • Free breakfast for every kindergartener
  • Free lunch for every child qualifying for the free or reduced lunch program
  • A bit more money per pupil
  • Less reliance on local levies
  • Evaluations of principals and teachers
  • A redesigned assessment system
  • Anti-bullying legislation requiring schools to pay a great deal of attention to this issue
  • Game-changing focus on English language learning

Specifically for high school:

  • Greater focus on experiential learning, high school internships and apprenticeships
  • More information disseminated about Post-Secondary Education Options (PSEO) for students in 10th grade and beyond
  • Measures to provide four-year personal learning plans for each student. Students can qualify for a Language Proficiency Seal on their Minnesota high school diploma

Politics and Policy

During the last several election cycles, control of the House has shifted from one party to another and these swings make for interesting politics during session.

Newly chosen Speaker of the House Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crowne) selected veteran Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) to chair House Education Policy Innovation and Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) for House Education Finance. Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood) will continue chairing Senate Education.

Frequent readers of these updates may notice that the Senate has chosen not to have a separate Education Policy committee and the House has renamed their policy committee – “Education Policy Innovation.”

Expect the upcoming session conversations to include: Teacher preparation, “strengthening teachers”, teacher tenure, testing, funding and early childhood. In the state budget press conference, Governor Dayton specifically mentioned early childhood scholarships.

What the Election Means for Education – Legislative Kick-off

You are cordially invited to our best conversation of the year! Seriously, our legislative kick-off is a time when we come together to consider what the election has done to the politics for education and what we see happening in the coming legislative session. The really fun part is to hear what others are thinking –so come and join in!

Saturday, January 10, 2015, 9-11 am
TIES 3rd floor Cafeteria, 1667 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul 55108
Event is free, but please register so we know to expect you.
We’re excited that the Legislative Kick-off will be live-streamed!

 A word about the state budget

The November forecast released on Dec 4, 2014 predicts a $1 billion state budget surplus. This is wonderful news, since so much of the last decade has been dealing with budget deficits. However, lest we forget, many years ago, Minnesota adopted a method of state budgeting that factors inflation into the revenue side of the budget, but not the expenditure side.

Analogous to this would be figuring on a salary increase next year, but assuming no increased costs for any product or service you may purchase. If the budget took inflation into account on both sides of the ledger it would provide a clearer view of the state’s finances.

There was truly terrific news in unemployment numbers. Minnesota’s unemployment rate has fallen to 3.9% – the lowest rate in many, many years and one of the lowest in the nation. That is wonderful news for our families.

What can you do in the coming months?

If you know others interested in keeping up to the minute on what’s happening for schools, please encourage them to sign up for our updates. Each week during the legislative session (January-May) we produce an update keeping you informed about potential legislation moving through the Capitol that will impact Minnesota’s schools.

Also: Are you following us on Twitter and Facebook? Keep in touch!

At Parents United’s Website