SF 2604 introduced by Sen. Kent deals with data privacy and testing and how the two intersect with transparency. Specifically, establishing student-user privacy rights; online educational services security and privacy standards compliance requirement; student information use for student profiles or target marketing prohibition. There is a companion bill in the House that will be heard in Education Innovation Policy.
MSBA RESPONDS: School boards should have the discretion and authority to implement site teams if they believe it serves a greater benefit. To require more advisory committees and publish testing dates adds to the unfunded mandates already in existence and takes away from local control.
Stem Grants for Girls of Color
Sen. Franzen’s bill (SF 2916) seeks to create a pilot grant program to encourage and support girls of color in exploring and pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) careers. The grant program is a part of a larger initiative, Women of Color Opportunities Act. The act brings together education, workforce development and small business development. Rep. Moran’s companion bill will be heard in the House Education Innovation Policy committee.
MSBA RESPONDS: It is imperative to prepare all students for career and college. In a perfect world, where funding kept up with inflation and there wasn’t a need to look at one-time funding versus ongoing, schools could implement wonderful programs like this one. Because it is not such a perfect world, funds must be used more discriminately and districts must place the priority of all new initiatives through the measurement lens of the World’s Best Workforce and Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA).
SF 2717 would create a task force to examine and recommend how unfunded mandates could be eliminated. Special education is a mandate by state and federal government that was never fully funded and has resulted in extremely large cross-subsidies. Sen. Clausen provided other examples such as the school calendar and staff development. His testifiers echoed concerns with special education, transportation funding and added some mandates, such as the requirement to publish budget and report information in a local newspaper when a digital publication would be more cost effective and provide a larger reach.
MSBA RESPONDS: Supporting local control of our school boards is core. We have long heard how boards have struggled to find resources to fulfill these mandates, while legislators continue to hear bills to increase the number of mandates. We are keeping a list.
A rather short bill (SF 2814) brought much testimony to the discussion of a student discipline working group. There were several testifiers from administration groups and MinnCAN. They shared how a work group can be a good thing, but cautioned the required membership doesn’t currently include representation for all groups impacted. Josh Crosson, a MinnCAN representative, suggested MN Youth Council, parents of children with disabilities, African American group(s), and Native American/Indian Affairs or perhaps a tribal nation representative should be included. He also shared that 75% of students of students dismissed don’t have a victim. He stressed students’ safety is as important as teacher safety. Kevin McHenry, assistant commissioner, Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) offered support and would like to collaborate.
MSBA RESPONDS: We support a work group approach to the issue of student discipline.
Third-Grade Reading & Personal Learning Plans
SF 1407 is a bill that would require personal learning plans for those students who have been unable to demonstrate reading proficiency by third-grade. Sen. Wiger was very impassioned after hearing testimony and stated the 41.3% of kids, who are not reading proficient, would fill the Target Center and half of the Xcel Center.
There is a second part of the bill dealing with planning for students’ successful transition to postsecondary education and employment. As a part of this plan, parents and students will be informed if a student’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA) scores do not meet Minnesota academic standards. Further, it outlines remediation in public school is available up to 21-years of age.
MSBA RESPONDS: Proficiency in literacy continues to be a priority. If districts are required to implement personalized learning plans for all students not meeting proficiency, it will require more resources (financial and time) to an already long list.
Be sure to check in tomorrow for our Session Snapshot – a summary of this week’s happenings and a look forward to next week.