Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update

October 5, 2019

Congressional Update

House Education Committee Poised for Busy Fall

Congress is adjourned for a two-week recess, but MSBA expects the House Education and Labor Committee to have a busy schedule when Members of Congress return to Washington on October 14.  Only 40 legislative days remain on the 2019 calendar, so committee leaders are planning to move quickly on several areas. The Higher Education Act (HEA) appears to be on top of Chairman Scott’s fall “to-do” list. In addition to working on the HEA reauthorization process, bipartisan committee staff are using the congressional recess to continue work on draft legislation to codify key elements of the National Apprenticeship Act’s regulations, with the goal of modernizing federal apprenticeship policies and funding streams. These two major strands of work may also be supplemented with committee hearings on key education policy topics.

Democratic Senators Urge FCC to Scrap E-rate Cap Plan

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission published a notice of proposed rulemaking, which proposed a new aggregate cap over the federal Universal Service Programs, including the E-rate, which is designed to ensure that all schools have affordable access to high capacity broadband. MSBA filed comments strongly opposing this proposed regulatory change and coordinated opposition from all state chapters. Last week, 30 Democratic senators, led by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) wrote a letter to the FCC Commissioners expressing their opposition to the plan. Due in part to the strong reaction from education groups, including school boards, we do not expect the FCC to act on the USF cap rule making until 2020.

Executive Branch Update

GAO Releases two New Reports of Interest to School Districts

This week, the Government Accountability Office released reports focused on Head Start oversight and educating foster care youth. The first report, Head Start: Action Needed to Enhance Program Oversight and Mitigate Significant Fraud and Improper Payment Risks, found vulnerabilities in centers’ controls for eligibility screening and detecting potential fraud. The report may include lessons for Head Start programs managed by school districts. The second  report,Foster Care: Education Could Help States Improve Educational Stability for Youth in Foster Care, noted that local staff turnover and the cost of transporting students to their original school were among the challenges to providing stability. Both papers were shared with the Senate and House education committees.

Department of Education Publishes CTE “Data Story”

The Department of Education recently released an interactive data story designed to highlight career and technical education (CTE) in U.S. high schools and outcomes for students who participate in these programs. According to the Department’s announcement, “the data shows that CTE participation — especially focusing one’s studies by taking two or more CTE classes within the same career cluster — is positively correlated with both future employment and future earnings.  Yet, while 77% of students take at least one CTE class while in high school, only 37% of participants focus their studies on a single career cluster.” State education agencies are currently working to develop long term plans for implementing the latest version of the Perkins Career and Technical Education Act. The plans must be submitted to the Department of Education during Spring 2020 and now is good time for school board members interested in CTE to work with their state agency on their state plan’s development.

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PELSB: Equity Alliance MN, University of St. Thomas offering Cultural Competency Trainings in October


All teachers renewing a license in 2020 will need to provide evidence they have completed cultural competency training as one of their license renewal requirements.

Both Equity Alliance MN and the University of St. Thomas will be offering separate PELSB-approved cultural competency trainings in October.

Equity Alliance MN will be offering a training on Saturday, October 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Woodbury, and the registration fee is $125. You can register for the Equity Alliance training online.

Additionally, the University of St. Thomas Continuing Education and Professional Education (CAPE) will be offering an online training that begins October 16. The training is asynchronous online, which means you complete all coursework online, on your own schedule, and within a two-week period. The registration fee is $249. You can register for the University of St. Thomas CAPE training online.

Both trainings are have been approved by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), and either training will satisfy the cultural competency training requirement to renew a Minnesota educator license.

Learn more about cultural competency training on the PELSB website.

Cultural Competency Training FAQ now online: PELSB has been receiving several questions about cultural competency training requirements for licensure renewal.

To help answer some of these questions, PELSB has posted a Cultural Competency Training FAQ online. The document provides answers to questions about who must complete cultural competency training as well as training requirements.

PELSB will update this document as we continue to receive questions about the trainings.

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

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PELSB: Reminders for districts on license applications


The Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is continuing to process teacher license applications as quickly as possible during the start of the 2019-20 school year.

PELSB staff are reminding all districts and schools supporting Tier 1 applicants to carefully complete all required documentation on the District Verification for a Tier 1 License Form, which is included in the Tier 1 license application.

PELSB has received several Tier 1 license applications without information about the number of days a position was posted. Additionally, districts and schools must include the ID number of the posting on EdPost, the only Board-approved statewide job board. The ID number is embedded within the posting link in the confirmation email EdPost sends to a school when a job is successfully posted on the board.

PELSB cannot process a Tier 1 license application until the school provides both the number of days the job was posted and the EdPost ID number. PELSB will be able to process licenses much more quickly when schools include this necessary information.

Tier 1 License Renewal Documentation: PELSB is reminding districts and schools that they have several responsibilities when working with teachers renewing Tier 1 licenses.
Districts and schools must affirm the Tier 1 teacher attempted the MTLE content test in the Tier 1 licensure field and completed cultural competency training in order to renew the license, among other responsibilities.

A full description of the role districts and charter schools have in the Tier 1 license renewal process is available in the Tier 1 Renewal Guide for Employing Districts and Charter Schools document.

Visit the PELSB website for more information about the Tier 1 and Tier 2 renewal processes.

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

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Tax committees to hold joint hearings October 3 in Winona and Caledonia

2019 Mini Session Logo

As part of the Minnesota House of Representatives’ Mini-Session, the House Taxes Committee and the House Taxes Committee — Property and Local Tax Division will hold combined informational hearings on Thursday, October 3, in Winona and Caledonia.

  • The Winona hearing is set for 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Winona City Hall (207 Lafayette Street).
  • The Caledonia hearing is slated for 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Community Center (900 North Kingston Street).

These public information hearings on property and local taxes will include testimony and discussion on what costs are increasing the most for local governments and the impact on the community.

Also, these hearing will include:

  • A review of 2019 major law changes on property and local taxes and aids to local governments.
  • Testimony from local officials on the main expenses their jurisdictions face, what costs are increasing most significantly, and challenges they face in setting budgets.
  • Testimony from the public.

Source: Minnesota House Taxes Committee

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Federal Advocacy & Weekly Policy Update


September 27, 2019

Congressional Updates

 Senate Passes Spending Bill to Extend Federal Funding

Facing a government shut down on October 1, this week the Senate passed (82-15) a stopgap spending bill (H.R.4378) to continue funding federal programs at fiscal year 2019 levels, until November 21. Congress has not yet completed work on the Department of Education’s fiscal year 2020 budget, but this step will ensure, assuming the president signs the bill, that federal education programs will remain funded even as federal leaders continue negotiating a final long-term spending package. As we reported last week, there are significant differences between how the House and Senate propose to address MSBA’s fiscal year 2020 priorities, including for ESSA Title I, ESSA Title II, and the IDEA State Grants program. The House bill is significantly better for school districts and NSBA along with MSBA plans to urge Senators to move close to the House adopted amounts.

Senator Alexander Proposes Scaled-Back Higher Education Reauthorization Plan

With bipartisan higher education policy negotiations dragging, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) proposed a scaled-back plan for reauthorizing the Higher Education Act. Alexander’s plan, titled The Student Aid Improvement Act of 2019, focuses on FAFSA simplification and other financial aid streamlining, expanding Pell Grants for short-term training programs and providing aid to incarcerated students. He is also reportedly planning to include the College Transparency Act, which would improve higher education data use. The proposal does not include the HEA Title II educator recruitment, preparation, and retention provisions fought for by MSBA, NSBA and our national K-12 association partners, but it would at least preserve the existing HEA Title II programs. Chairman Alexander’s proposal is not expected to move through the Senate, given Democratic opposition to considering an HEA bill that does not comprehensively update the federal higher education law.

Administration Updates

Federal Agencies Release School Emergency Operations Guidance

The Departments of Education, Justice, Homeland Security, and Health and Human Services released a guide titled “The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans”.  The departments created the guide in response to a recommendation in the Federal Commission on School Safety’s final report for federal leaders to provide resources to assist schools and school districts in developing customized school plans and community partnerships. NSBA participated extensively in the Commission’s proceedings, with a focus on improving the application of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act’s emergency data sharing provision, and we intend to closely review this new guidance from the school district perspective.


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State licensing board seeking comments on rule amendments


The Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) is requesting comments on its possible rule amendments to licensing and academic standards rules (found in Minnesota Rules, Chapter 8710).

Visit the PELSB website for details.

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School Finance Working Group discusses current funding system, trends during inaugural meeting


The School Finance Working Group held its first meeting Saturday, September 21, at the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) in Roseville.

After introductions and establishing expectations, the working group discussed its broader charge — to generate a proposal focused on preparing our public school students for college, career and life, while using MDE’s commitment to equity as a guide for their decision-making.

The working group was recently established by Minnesota Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker — not a result of a legislative requirement.

One of the group’s big goals is to prepare school finance recommendations for the state’s next budget session in 2021.

The group’s first meeting focused on the current school funding system and an overview of recent school finance trends.

MSBA has appointed two school board members to the work group — John Vento (Robbinsdale Area) and Michelle Borchardt (Tri-City United).

The group will meet monthly over the next year. The next meeting will be held 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, October 17, at the MDE office in Roseville.

Visit the School Finance Working Group webpage to learn more about this group.

The School Finance Working Group is comprised of the following members:

  • Amy Nelson (Bloomington)
  • Bernie Burnham (Duluth)
  • Cathy Erickson (Duluth)
  • Cathy Nathan (Bloomington)
  • Cheryl Johnson (Goodhue County)
  • Chris Leinen (Bemidji Area)
  • Christine Osorio (North St Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale)
  • Sen. Charles Wiger
  • Don McNeil (Bloomington)
  • Eugene Piccolo (Minnesota Association of Charter Schools)
  • Fred Nolan (MREA)
  • Janey Atchison (St. Paul)
  • Jennifer Murray (Cloquet)
  • Rep. Jim Davnie
  • John Carlson (Rochester)
  • John Vento (Robbinsdale Area and MSBA)
  • Les Fujitake (Bloomington)
  • LuAnn Alexander (Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop)
  • Mary Doug (St Paul)
  • Michelle Borchardt (Tri-City United and MSBA)
  • Nicola Alexander (Minneapolis)
  • Ryan Vernosh (Roseville)
  • Steve Massey (Forest Lake Area and Schools for Equity in Education)
  • Ternesha Burroughs (Osseo Area)
  • Tilley Gitchuway (Minneapolis)
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