Teacher mentorship and retention grant applications due by December 18


Source: Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB)

During the 2019 legislative session, the Minnesota Legislature designated PELSB as the administrator of a grant to support efforts for teacher mentorship and retention of effective teachers.

The Teacher Mentorship and Retention of Effective Teachers Grant is designed to help develop teacher mentoring programs for teachers new to the profession or district, including teaching residents, teachers of color, teachers who are American Indian, teachers in license shortage areas, teachers with special needs, or experienced teachers in need of peer coaching.

The grant application is open to:

  • School districts;
  • Groups of school districts;
  • Coalitions of districts, teachers, and teacher education institutions; or
  • Coalitions of schools, teachers, or nonlicensed educators.

Access the grant applications on the PELSB website.

The timeline to apply for a Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant for the 2020 fiscal year is:

  • November 22: PELSB will hold an informational meeting about the Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant to provide updates and answer questions about the application and grant selection process. The meeting will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the PELSB Board Room, 1021 Bandana Blvd. E., Suite 222, St. Paul, MN 55108.
  • November 29: Prospective grant applicants must submit an Intent to Apply to PELSB Grant Manager Saba Teshome by email at saba.teshome@state.mn.us.
  • December 18: Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant applications are due by 4:30 p.m.

PELSB is encouraging all interested districts, groups, and coalitions to consider applying for the Teacher Mentorship and Retention Grant. Additionally, PELSB encourages members of the public to share this call for grant applications with any interested individuals.

Contact Saba Teshome by email at saba.teshome@state.mn.us with any questions.

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Report calls for equitable, reliable, robust broadband access for K-12 students


On November 6, 2019, the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) — the principal membership association representing the U.S. state and territorial educational technology leaders — announced the release of “The Broadband Imperative III: Driving Connectivity, Access and Student Success.”

This report advocates for equitable, reliable, robust broadband access both on and off campus to prepare all students for life and work. This publication discusses innovative technologies and pedagogical approaches to personalize learning for all students. Further, the report emphasizes the importance of comprehensive broadband planning to meet the needs of teachers and students to avoid a technology disruption. Exemplars highlight states and districts where robust bandwidth has already positively impacted teaching and learning.

Access this report at https://www.setda.org/priorities/equity-of-access/broadband-imperative-iii.

Visit https://www.setda.org/outreach/press-releases/press-release-2019/broadband-imperative-iii to view the complete press release from SETDA.

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Federal Advocacy and Weekly Policy Update

Congressional Update

Congress Faces Fiscal Year 2020 Spending Deadline

Both the Senate and House will be in session next week, following a one-week House recess. At the top of congressional leaders’ “to do” list is restarting discussions for the fiscal year 2020 federal appropriations process, including the U.S. Department of Education’s budget, which has been at a standstill over the president’s proposed border wall expansion and other controversial policy riders. Time is running short. Congressional leaders and the White House must act before temporary funding for the U.S. Department of Education and other agencies expires on November 21. We do not expect Congress to be able to pass the Department of Education’s budget – or providing funding for any other government agencies – before the deadline. Instead, we expect legislators to approve a second “continuing resolution” that will provide additional temporary funding at fiscal year 2019 levels. The length of this stopgap spending authority is uncertain. It could be as short as mid-to-late December or extend into in 2020. Regardless, NSBA/MSBA plans to continue pressing appropriators to support increased funding for the major education formula programs and other key accounts.

Senate Education Committee to Hold Youth Vaping Hearing

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will hold a hearing “Examining the Response to Lung Illnesses and Rising Youth Electronic Cigarette Use” on November 13 at 10:00 AM. Live video of the hearing will be available on the committee’s website. The committee has not invited education witnesses to testify at the hearing, but given this issue’s importance to school districts, students, and students’ families, we are closely monitoring Congress’s work in this area.

Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act of 2019 (SECURE Act)

This week there was debate on the Senate floor concerning the SECURE Act, which overwhelmingly passed the House of Representatives in May in a bipartisan vote of 417-3. NSBA worked with the Massachusetts Association of School Committees to oppose the inclusion of an expansion of 529 plans for homeschooling and related voucher proposals and were successful in keeping those provisions out of the House passed version of the legislation. Despite the overwhelming vote in the House, the legislation has been stalled in the Senate due to holds preventing its passage via unanimous consent by Senators Pat Toomey (R-NC), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). Senator Cruz has been advocating for the homeschooling provisions to be reinserted which is what has caused him to hold the bill. There was an effort during the floor debate to revive that provision, but it failed. Despite widespread support to move forward with the House bill, it is unclear what will happen with the legislation. NSBA/MSBA actively monitored the discussion this week and stayed in touch with Senate staffers during the debate. NSBA/MSBA will continue to aggressively advocate for the House passed version of the bill

Administration Update

Secret Service Releases Targeted School Violence Report

The U.S. Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center released a report titled “Protecting American’s Schools: A U.S. Secret Service Analysis of Targeted School Violence”.  The report analyzed data from 41 incidents between 2008 and 2017. The report noted that schools should have a comprehensive plan to avert violence along with physical security measures. The report also said that plan should create a threat assessment team, including faculty, staff, administrators, coaches and available school resource officers and that mental health professionals should be part of a collaborative process to prevent violence.

Notable New Legislation

  • H.R.4989 To authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to award a grant to a health care organization to promote student access to defibrillation in elementary and secondary schools, and for other purposes. Sponsor: Rep. Lawson, Al, Jr. [D-FL-5]
  • S.2784 A bill to amend the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to provide grants to local educational agencies to establish “Family Friendly School” policies at 500 elementary schools that align the school day with the work day to better support working families and to disseminate the learnings from these model schools so that other local educational agency’s may adopt these practices, and to establish a supplemental 21st century community learning centers grant program to support programs and activities during summer recess when school is not in session. Sponsor: Sen. Harris, Kamala D. [D-CA]
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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

November 1, 2019

Congressional Update

House Committee Approves HEA Update with Teacher and School Leader Provisions

On a party line vote, the House Education and Labor Committee approved (28-22) H.R. 4674 “The College Affordability Act”, following a three-day debate about the future of the Higher Education Act. The Democratic bill includes a central focus on strengthening educator and leader preparation, including by taking the following steps:

  • Continues and strengthens the existing Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) Grant program, which supports “coordination between school districts, state agencies, and teacher preparation programs at institutions to include school leader preparation programs.” Among other improvements, the bill proposes to allow “TQP grantees to develop Grow Your Own partnerships between high-need LEAs and teacher prep IHE programs to recruit and support paraprofessionals and other non-teaching staff from the LEA in gaining teacher certifications to teach in their own communities.”
  • Increases “requirements and capacity for effective oversight and intervention for at-risk and low-performing teacher and school leader preparation programs to ensure program improvement.”
  • Authorizes “funding for competitive grant programs that support institutions to: increase the diversity of the educator workforce by improving teacher and school leader preparation programs at minority-serving institutions; ensure new teachers are prepared for diverse learners by increasing the number of teacher preparation programs that embed dual certification for special education instruction and English-language instruction in general education programs;  improve the ability of teacher preparation programs to offer pedagogy and coursework on social and emotional learning competencies, trauma-informed practices, and strategies to create a positive school climate; offer graduate fellowships to doctoral students to advance high-quality instruction on pedagogy for fields that are consistently cited as shortage areas by states such as special education; English-language instruction; and Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), including computer science.”

Bipartisan Group of Senators Urge the FCC to Not Adopt New E-rate Caps

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Maize Hirono (D-HI) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to stop a rulemaking proceeding that would merge the funding caps for the E-rate program and Rural Health programs and establish a new overall cap on the Universal Service Fund (USF), which supports broadband access. In their letter the senators said, “Especially in rural areas, USF programs have been key to redefining access to services and ensuring that the most vulnerable Americans have the tools and bandwidth necessary to communicate with one another, receive telehealth services, and engage in teaching and learning online…We urge the Commission not to proceed down this path, and instead to consider other ways to support these critical programs that fulfill the mandate of Congress and that serve all Americans.”

Senate Fails to Advance FY20 Education Spending Bill

Congress and the Administration have until November 21 to either complete the fiscal year 2020 budget for the U.S. Department of Education and other federal agencies or pass another stopgap spending bill to continue government operations at fiscal year 2019 until a spending deal can be reached. Earlier this week, Senate leaders failed to secure the 60 votes required to initiate a floor debate on a fiscal year 2020 spending package that included the U.S. Department of Education’s budget. Policy disagreements unrelated to the Department of Education’s budget have continued to frustrate the Senate’s ability to push the appropriations process ahead. Although the House will be adjourned next week, senators will continue to seek a way forward that would enable the body to finalize negotiations with the House and then send the Department of Education’s budget to the White House for final approval. NSBA is continuing to champion investments in the major education formula programs, including ESSA Title I, IDEA Part B, ESSA Title IV, and other key federal funding sources that school districts need to support their students.

NSBA Files Comments Responding to FTC Privacy Rule Making

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission invited public comment on the agency’s regulations associated with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA regulates private companies’ collection and use of data about children less than age 13, including data collection by education technology companies that work with schools. In its comments, NSBA advocated for “a federal framework that not only vigorously protects student data privacy, but also provides flexibility to local school districts to fashion policy consistent with local priorities and existing data systems. By working with all stakeholders, the FTC can address areas of overlap between the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), outline clear and objective criteria for schools, create language extending a safe harbor when such criteria are followed, and institute a workable rule regarding parent consent for the use of EdTech in schools.”

By simplifying the framework of FERPA and COPPA, NSBA believes the Department of Education and the FTC have an opportunity to make the use of EdTech tools for student learning more efficient and effective.

 Administration Update

U.S. Department Invites New Application for Innovation Pilot

The Department of Education released a Federal Register notice inviting new applications for the Innovative Assessment Demonstration Authority, as authorized under ESSA. This program provides SEAs with the authority to operate innovative assessment systems in their public schools within the law’s accountability requirements. During the initial demonstration period, the first three years, no more than seven SEAs may participate. The first two competitions, held in 2018 and 2019, resulted in the award of the authority to four states to participate. Now, three additional states may be approved for this authority during this competition. Deadline for notice of intent to apply is November 27, 2019, and applications will be due on January 27, 2020. Further information is available here.

Notable New Legislation





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Wayzata, Northfield, Bemidji Area, Roseville Area, Wadena-Deer Creek school districts earn 2019 Local Government Innovation Awards


The Humphrey School of Public Affairs on October 29 named five school districts as recipients of 2019 Local Government Innovation Awards.

Wayzata Public Schools’ Wayzata High School earned a $5,000 grant by being named the Leading Innovator in the School Category for its “The Hub” Web-Based Teacher Portal.

“The Hub” is a user-friendly, student-focused online tool created for Wayzata High School staff and students. The Hub helps communicate, manage, and collaborate on student intervention time, teachers’ school-to-home communication, teacher/student academic referrals, academic resource center scheduling, after-school programming, college/university visits, teacher before/after school availability, digital hall passes, and student volunteer projects.

The other School Category winners are:

  • Bemidji Area Schools — in a partnership among Bemidji High School, Lumberjack High School, Bemidji Alternative Learning Center, Red Lake Nation, Leech Lake Nation, White Earth Nation, Greater Bemidji Business and Industry Partners, and the City of Bemidji — for Bemidji Career Academies. 
  • Northfield Public Schools — partnering with Northfield Healthy Community Initiative, City of Northfield, and other local nonprofits — for Youth on Boards. 
  • Roseville Area Schools — partnering with Hamline University — for English Learner in the Mainstream (ELM) Coaching. 
  • Wadena-Deer Creek Public Schools — in partnership with the Wadena Housing and Redevelopment Authority and the Wadena Development Authority — for Community House 2020.

The awards program is organized in partnership with the Bush Foundation and its Native Nation Building Initiative; and co-sponsored by the League of Minnesota Cities, the Association of Minnesota Counties, the Minnesota Association of Townships, and the Minnesota School Boards Association.

Visit http://lgia.umn.edu/media to view the Humphrey School’s complete press release, which includes the winners of the city, county, township and native nations categories.

All the awardees will be formally recognized at an awards ceremony  5 p.m. Thursday, December 12, at the Humphrey School. Visit http://lgia.umn.edu to register for the event.

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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

October 18, 2019

Congressional Update

House Committee Holds Hearings on Free School Meals, Plans Hearing on Apprenticeships

The House Education and Labor subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services held a hearing this week titled, “Examining the USDA’s Proposed Cuts to Free School Meals”.  The USDA posted an analysis earlier this week showing that that nearly 982,000 children would no longer be automatically eligible for free school meals based on their family’s participation in the SNAP program should the proposed rule be put into place.  In its analysis, USDA said about 45 percent of the 982,000 children who could lose automatic eligibility, or 445,000, would still be eligible for free meals, and 51 percent, or 497,000, would still be eligible for reduced price meals.  In both cases, households would likely need to fill out additional paperwork. Just 4 percent of school children, or 40,000, who would lose automatic eligibility would no longer qualify for free or reduced price meals, according to the department’s analysis.  Democrats on the subcommittee were not pleased with the responses to their questions given by the hearing’s sole witness, USDA Deputy Under Secretary Brandon Lipps about why it took the department so long to provide this information and the potential effects to students.  Testimony and an archives video of the hearing can be found here.  MSBA and NSBA is reviewing this information and is considering the appropriate response.

The House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Investment is planning to hold a hearing on Thursday, October 24 titled “Examining the Policies and Priorities of the Labor Department’s Apprenticeship Program”.  Witnesses have not yet been announced. Watch the livestream here.

 House Democrats Release Bill Aimed at Updating The Higher Education Act

House Democrats released a new bill titled the “College Affordability Act” that aims to update the Higher Education Act.  Key components of the bill include increasing the size of the Pell grant, eliminating the ban on incarcerated student access to Pell grants, enacting federal-state partnerships to make community colleges free, streamlining student loan repayments, and codifying Obama-era college accountability rules.  The bill also proposes to restore the gainful-employment rule as well as the borrower-defense regulations.  The bill text and fact sheet can be found here.  We are still reviewing the bill, but the proposal appears to include a number of provisions related to HEA Title II educator recruitment, preparation, and retention that have been fought for by MSBA and NSBA.

Administration Update

 USED Announces Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award Opportunity

The Department of Education announced the opening of the nomination period for the Presidential Cybersecurity Education Award.  The award is given to educators in the field of cybersecurity to honor their contribution to the education of our nation’s students.  It is presented annually to two educators—one at the elementary level and one at the secondary level—who demonstrate superior achievement in instilling skills, knowledge, and passion with respect to cybersecurity and cybersecurity-related subjects.  The nomination period closes on January 31, 2020.  Learn more about how to apply here.

Bills of Interest

  • H.R.4706To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects. Sponsor:Rep. Neguse, Joe [D-CO-2]
  • H.R.4684To amend the Child Nutrition Act of 1966 and the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act to make breakfasts and lunches free for all children, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Omar, Ilhan [D-MN-5]
  • H.R.4680To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to simplify the financial aid application process, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Doggett, Lloyd [D-TX-35]
  • H.R.4677To direct the Secretary of Education to carry out a program to recognize high schools and local educational agencies for expanding high-quality dual credit programs. Sponsor:Rep. Taylor, Van [R-TX-3]
  • H.R.4674To amend and strengthen the Higher Education Act of 1965 to lower the cost of college for students and families, to hold colleges accountable for students’ success, and to give a new generation of students the opportunity to graduate on-time and transition to a successful career. Sponsor:Rep. Scott, Robert C. “Bobby” [D-VA-3]
  • H.R.4673To amend the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to direct the Secretary to provide additional funds to States to establish and make disbursements from high cost funds. Sponsor:Rep. Huffman, Jared [D-CA-2]
  • H.R.4670To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to establish an income-based repayment for new loans on and after July 1, 2021, and for borrowers who enter income-based repayment after June 30, 2021, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Wild, Susan [D-PA-7]
  • H.R.4662To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to require that institutions of higher education maintain certain adjusted cohort default rates to participate in programs under title IV of such Act, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. Porter, Katie [D-CA-45]
  • H.R.4643To amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to improve accessibility to, and completion of, postsecondary education for students, including students with disabilities, and for other purposes. Sponsor:Rep. DeSaulnier, Mark [D-CA-11]
  • H.R.4639Pell Grant Sustainability Act Sponsor:Rep. Casten, Sean [D-IL-6]
  • H.R.4637Opportunity to Address College Hunger Act Sponsor:Rep. Bonamici, Suzanne [D-OR-1]
  • S.2608A bill to amend the Higher Education Act of 1965 to authorize competency-based education demonstration projects. Sponsor:Sen. Hassan, Margaret Wood [D-NH]
  • H.R.2528STEM Opportunities Act of 2019 Sponsor:Rep. Johnson, Eddie Bernice [D-TX-30]
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Gov. Walz orders flags at half-staff in honor of Rep. Cummings


In honor and remembrance of U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings and in accordance with an order issued by President Donald Trump, Gov. Tim Walz has ordered all United States and Minnesota flags to be flown at half-staff at all state and federal buildings in Minnesota beginning immediately until sunset on Friday, October 18, 2019.

Rep. Cummings passed away early Thursday morning from longstanding health complications. Rep. Cummings represented the people of Baltimore in Maryland’s Seventh Congressional District since 1996.

Access a copy of Gov. Walz’s complete proclamation.

Source: Office of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan

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