A Major Provision Adopted in Conference Committee. For those of you who were at the April SEE meeting, you may recall my praise for Representative Heather Edelson and the work she put into the Read Act. The Read Act is a comprehensive approach to improving reading instruction and, more importantly, students’ reading results. Representative Edelson has worked on the reading improvement issue since her election to the House of Representatives in 2016 and along with Senator Erin Maye Quade, authored the Read Act in 2023, has seen it through to being accepted by the conference committee today. Teaching of reading has been a subject of great interest the last couple of biennia as witnessed by the support and an appropriation for the LETRS professional development
Representative Edelson and Senator Maye Quade reached out to a broad range of educators, education groups, parents, and community experts in constructing this legislation. Districts will need to establish a literacy lead from its teaching cohort and will also have to adopt an evidence-based reading curriculum. There are appropriations for both curriculum acquisition through a grant program administered by the Minnesota Department of Education (districts that purchased an evidence-based reading curriculum after July 1, 2021 are eligible for a grant) and for professional development. The bill also creates a literacy specialist position at the Minnesota Department of Education. The bill also directs how districts can use their literacy aid in promoting higher reading scores.
All and all, this is one of the finer pieces of legislative work I have seen in years. The authors did their homework and were open to suggestions from the get-go on how to make the program work for school districts. There has been some haggling over the difference between the terms “evidence-based” and “science of reading,” but the evidence-based in the term being used and there appears to be wide support and comfort for using the evidence-based as the descriptor. Clearly, there are expectations being placed on school districts and there may need to be further investments to cover curriculum acquisition and professional development needs, but that’s in the future. Let’s celebrate the progress made today with the adoption of this language. Kudos to all who provided input and special appreciation to Representative Edelson and Senator Maye Quade.
There was no other business undertaken by the conference committee today and the goal is for the Legislature to adjourn for the year a week from tomorrow (Friday, May 18). With the fishing opener and Mothers’ Day coming up this weekend, that may mean wall-to-wall action next week. Paraphrasing Bette Davis as her character Margo Channing in the 1950 classic All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy week.”