Since we launched our 2013 policy goals last month, we've jumped from one committee hearing at the capitol to the next. And last Friday we rounded the first (of two) legislative mile markers — the first committee deadline for Senate and House policy committees to hear a bill. The second deadline is this Friday, when all bills that made the first deadline need to do the same thing in the opposite chamber.
So what does this mean for MinnCAN’s policy priorities?
- The most exciting news: Companion “MinneMinds” bills H.F. 1058 and S.F. 481 are on schedule. These bills would realize the MinneMinds campaign goal to ensure all Minnesota 3- and 4-year-olds living at or below 185 percent of poverty have access to quality pre-k. The chief authors championing these bills, Rep. Ryan Winkler and Sen. Chuck Wiger, are putting forward a bold proposal that supports the neediest Minnesota kids. It’s also a giant leap forward towards addressing our state’s nation-trailing achievement gaps.
- Efforts to support stronger charter schools have faced wins and setbacks. Companion bills H.F. 998 and S.F. 836 failed to make deadlines; they would have required authorizers to hold the schools they charter accountable for the academic performance of their students by closing or publicly justifying why they chose not to close low-performing schools in their portfolio. We'll continue to identify opportunities to stress the importance of increasing accountability for public schools. Another bill, H.F. 1059, would require charter school authorizers to annually submit a public report on both the academic and fiscal performance of their portfolio of schools. It made deadline in the Senate; the House Education Policy Committee should hear it today.
- To ensure Minnesota continues to recruit great teachers, MinnCAN testified on a number of bills that would refine the skills portion of the Minnesota’s Teacher Licensure Exam. H.F. 1151 and S.F. 1224 contain language that would establish a task force to review the skills portion of the exam; in the meantime they also provide short-term flexibility for teacher candidates. MinnCAN supports the review and short-term flexibility; we need to make sure that we achieve the right balance between accountability and flexibility as we consider the long-term teacher licensure process. We are continuing to work with Sen. Kevin Dahle and Rep. Barb Yarusso — bill champions — as legislation moves forward.
We’ll have more opportunities for folks to take action in support of the above bills and others in the near future. Stay tuned and email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions!