The new year is right around the corner, so stay tuned! 2016 promises to be a big year. Every state senator and representative is up for election next November, which is sure to be evident in their work at the Capitol starting March 8.
Parents United will host its annual Legislative Kick-off in February, where we will share what we expect to see as priorities in this next session. We’ll also do more to organize the many Legislative Action Committees around the state.
If your district doesn’t have an LAC and would like help organizing one, let us know Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t forget about Caucus Night March 1
We’ll be talking more about this in the new year, but mark your calendars: March 1, 7-9 pm! This is the night where Minnesotans can have a big impact on the parties’ platforms and priorities! Need help finding the location of your precinct caucus? Go to Minnesota Caucus Finder.
After languishing in Congress for the last 7 years, the new law replacing No Child Left Behind has been signed by President Obama. The origin of this statute is the Elementary and Secondary Education Act—federal legislation meant to help struggling learners who qualify for Title 1 dollars. First authorized through 1965, it is meant to be authorized every 5 years and whomever the president is at the time gets to name it. Under President Clinton, ESEA was called Improving America’s Schools Act, under President Bush, No Child Left Behind, and the newest iteration will be known as Every Student Succeeds Act. Although it touts that it returns control of schools to states, annual testing is still mandated.
Minnesota Budget Surplus
The magic number is $1.87 Billion. By now we know that Minnesota has a budget surplus, and conventional wisdom may suggest that it will now be an easier session for legislators. Not so. The arguments are lining up between investing or give-backs! Much the same argument as we had at the turn of the century—yes, I mean 2000, when we gave it back to taxpayers and tumbled into ten years of budget deficits!
Every Senator and House member is facing a November election in a presidential year! Days after the legislative season ends, candidates and incumbents alike will be door knocking and questions about the use of the surplus will be fresh on the minds of voters.
Integration Rule debated
A state-level task force was conveyed by the Minnesota Department of Education to create rules complying with the new integration law. They have completed their work and MDE is now requesting public comments at an Administrative Law Judge Hearing on January 6, 2016. These hearings are very eye opening and if you are interested in this issue, worth your time! MDE provides more information.
You may be aware of the lawsuit recently filed that is seeking a metro-wide school integration plan. This lawsuit warrants attention. Parents from St. Paul and Minneapolis are taking to the courts to deal with increased segregation in schools.
Worth a Second Look
Recent success with a pilot project for a full-service community school model in Brooklyn Center, where myriad student and family needs are met at the school site: Star Tribune article.
Concerns are mounting about teacher safety and school climate. Though the data available in Minnesota on student-teacher violence dates back to 2011-2012, this article from the Pioneer Press is an interesting investigative overview.
What is Parents United’s agenda? Our agenda is simple: we don’t speak for parents, but work to provide credible, timely information about education policy and the law-making process so parents can speak for themselves. Truth be told, Parents United is a translator of complex terms and policy implications, as well as a navigator fora legislative process often oblique to the public.