Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

What is happening at the Capitol – Parents Bill of Rights, staff shortages, taking care of our valued school staff, and more.

What is happening at the Capitol

On Monday, the Senate Education Finance and Policy Committee heard a package of bills (SF2575SF2666, and SF2909) called the Minnesota Parents Bill of Rights. The bills include the following.

  • Prohibits schools from withholding information on class content from parents.
  • Requires schools to provide copies of all course materials to parents free of charge.
  • Requires teachers to distribute a syllabus within the first two weeks of class.
  • Prohibit districts from requiring public speakers to publicly disclose their home addresses at school board meetings.

The testifiers speaking in favor of the bills said these provisions are required to address parents’ concerns about how race and gender are taught in schools. Read more. However, districts are already required to do

some of what is in the bills, like have a process for parents to request instructional materials and make reasonable arrangements for alternative instruction if parents object. In addition, the recent flood of data requests around words like inclusion, equity, and diversity cost schools untold resources that would be better spent on students educational opportunities,

In a rare moment, along with the Senate education committee majority and the Minnesota Business Partnership, Education Minnesota, the teachers union, supported SF2872. The bill fully funds grants for K-5 teachers to complete the LETRS literacy program. Read more.

The companion bill in the House has majority members as authors. It looks like the bill has momentum and will likely end up in the final education omnibus bill.

Education support personnel (ESP) – paraprofessionals, bus drivers, food service workers, and custodians – keep schools running. Too many are leaving the profession, especially when they get paid more at Target or Mcdonald’s and have year-round employment. Superintendents understand the challenges ESPs face but come crashing into the hard wall of limited funding. Any solutions that the legislators propose MUST be fully funded by the state. The House heard HF2133 includes a $25 per hour minimum wage, health insurance, unemployment, and paid family and medical leave for ESPs. Read more.  The bill intends to pay for most of the provisions except for directing school districts to levy for the health insurance even though districts don’t currently have the authority to do so. HF1035 is the House version of replenishing the insolvent unemployment fund due to claims during the pandemic and extends unemployment to ESPs. The Senate and House agree to replenish the funds. However, the Senate has not been on board with extending unemployment to ESPs in the past.  Seasonal workers in construction, landscaping, and mining have access to unemployment. Why not ESPs? Learn more.

This week the Senate took up SF2861 that addresses the severe substitute teacher shortage by expanding opportunities to retired teachers and education support personnel or paraprofessionals. This is a small step, but schools need even more flexibility. The chronic shortage of teachers and substitute teachers plays out in lost instructional time for students every day.  Read more.

The Senate heard SF2952 which clarifies how the teacher shortage data is reported. The Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) must report data on the teacher shortage to policymakers. A reasonable person would want to know the number of unfilled teacher positions and what content areas have empty positions. In their presentation earlier this week, PELSB defines the teacher shortage as the number of people working in a teacher shortage area with a Tier 1 and Tier 2 license or a person with out-of-field permission. First, Tier 1 and Tier 2 teachers are teachers and deserve respect. They met various requirements set by the legislature to obtain their license. However, Tier 1 and Tier 2 teachers have not been trained in state-approved higher education teacher preparation colleges or programs. They also are not part of the teacher’s union like Tier 3 and Tier 4 teachers. See the teacher requirements for Minnesota’s tiered licensure system. Second, reporting on teacher shortages as PELSB does is quite misleading. According to the data, if a school district hires a Tier 1 or Tier 2 teacher in a shortage area such as Math, Career and Technical Education, or elementary education, that hire does not reduce the teacher shortage. Conversely, if a Tier 3 teacher who is not in a shortage area defined by PELSB leaves, even if the district cannot fill the position, that does not contribute to the teacher shortage. Changes to the reporting are needed.

The Teachers of Color Act continues to move through the House education committees. The House Education Finance committee heard the Teachers of Color Act this week. Some progress was made last session, but there is much more to do to increase the diversity of teachers in the classroom. Read more.

As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me!



Deb Griffiths
Director of Communications and Community Outreach


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