Vallay Varro was a founding state executive director. She now serves as the president of 50CAN.

Increasing numbers of Minnesotans – from parents and teachers to the news media and nonprofits – are taking a stand to keep great teachers in classrooms.

We witnessed a stellar showing at the House Education Reform Committee’s informational hearing on H.F. 1870 this week. Notably, much of the testimony reinforced MinnCAN’s poll findings on Minnesotans’ unified voice on important school staffing decisions and the need to consider teacher performance as the primary factor in layoff decisions.

The testifiers were a diverse bunch with a variety of perspectives, but they all spoke passionately about ending Minnesota’s antiquated seniority-based layoff system. Students for Education Reform member and future teacher Benjamin Arndt testified to the bill’s impact on future teachers entering the profession. Parent Jennifer Flood, Jim Bartholomew of the Minnesota Business Partnership, as well as a former Rochester school board member, also testified in support of H.F 1870.

Many described themselves as life-long democrats. Lynnell Mickelsen, a self-declared “die-hard progressive DFL mom from Minneapolis,” was vehement about the need for her party to step up to the plate. She reiterated that stance in her recent Star Tribune op-ed. (It’s a must-read!)

Further support and strong arguments solidified at the hearing when Mary Cecconi of Parents United announced her organization’s support for the bill and Sondra Samuels of the Northside Achievement Zone (also a MinnCAN board member) emphasized that the U.S. Department of Education is looking to Minnesota to once again pioneer public education through reforms that help students. (President Obama’s administration and U.S. DoE recently provided Minnesota significant education grants, including a $28 million Promise Neighborhood Grant for North Minneapolis and $45 million in Race to the Top funds.)

H.F. 1870 will soon make it’s way to Governor Dayton’s desk. Please tell the governor that you agree: Teacher performance matters and for the sake of Minnesota children, we need to keep the best teachers in classrooms.


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