Following the 2014 legislative session, we present to you our progress at the Capitol. Some Minnesota schools are proving that when we hold high expectations for kids they meet them–even those under-served or marginalized. The work of MinnCAN—which includes you—seeks to enact policies that are informed by changing-the-odds schools that are proving what’s possible.
Continuing the MinneMinds momentum, we helped expand pre-K scholarships. In part because of folks like you, who contacted legislators and wrote to newspapers across the state, policymakers increased funding by $4.65 million and removed the arbitrary scholarship cap to better meet student needs. We had hoped for a greater increase in this groundbreaking investment to connect more under-served kids with quality programs; however, we're tracking forward.
The Senate Education Policy Committee passed an amendment to delay implementation of teacher evaluations, which Gov. Dayton signed into law in 2011 and are set to roll out statewide this fall. We helped defeat this amendment. Now, we’re no longer in jeopardy of losing our No Child Left Behind waiver, as Washington did earlier this year.
Out-of-state teaching licenses
We continued our work to ensure that the state Board of Teaching adopts streamlined processes for issuing teaching licenses to educators trained and licensed outside of Minnesota. This mandate, which was a part of our 2011 alternative teacher certification law, ensures highly skilled educators can bring their talents to Minnesota classrooms.
PSEO "gag rule"
Our “actionists” successfully advocated for removal of the PSEO “gag rule,” which prohibited colleges and universities from advertising the financial benefits of Post-Secondary Enrollment Option classes. Now, those academic and financial perks will be easier for students and families to understand. This simple fix could help countless students achieve post-secondary degrees.
State assessments and parents
We helped ensure that districts provide parents with a timely written summary of their student's academic growth and proficiency on Minnesota's academic content standards, as measured by state assessments. This law supports a partnership between the school and parents, and helps parents understand how well their kids are learning.
Career & technical course flexibility
On our Road to Success statewide tour last fall, we heard from educators and students that high schools need greater flexibility when it comes to career and technical courses. Since then, we talked to dozens of legislators about potential policies to increase career and technical course flexibility–laying the groundwork for future legislation.
Student teacher placement
We advocated for a commonsense measure to ensure that, during their clinical experience, student teachers be placed only with effective educators, as determined by professional teacher evaluations. Despite having former teachers as bill authors, and bipartisan support in both chambers, this measure faced opposition from a small group of legislators and ultimately failed when introduced as a floor amendment. While a frustrating loss, we helped teachers speak up, made it possible for over 1,000 Minnesotans to contact their legislators, and landed a Star Tribune op-ed on the issue–written by our board members Lee-Ann Stephens and Ben Whitney.
Charter school authorizer accountability
We requested that the state require charter school authorizers from consistently low-performing schools to submit an explanation of how they measure growth and proficiency. Unfortunately, this bill failed to have public consideration.
The pillars that drive our work…
- Start early with high-quality pre-K
- Expand high-quality school options for all families
- Elevate great teaching and leadership
- Meet individual student needs
- Set high expectations for everyone
…to eradicate Minnesota's "belief gap"
“Every part of this sea-change in the classroom is about schools expecting more of students, helping teachers be more creative, telling the truth about our performance, and improving teaching and learning…Our children deserve the best—we have to stop settling for less.”
–U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
January 3, 2014
This legislative session proved to us once again that real progress to improve our schools and increase academic achievement for all kids is possible, but oftentimes far too slow. We’ll accomplish more next year only with a relentless belief in all kids, a laser focus on our policy pillars, a commitment to passing and implementing smart policy, and the continued backing of people like you.
Thanks for all you do to make public schools great for all kids.