Schools for Equity in Education

– Legislative Update

Education committees wrestle with student and staff mental health needs.  Expect to see SEE’s school levies tax relief legislation next week.

If you want to keep up with the education-related bills introduced and scheduled in committee, you can click on the education bill summary link in the blue box to the right.  Hundreds of bills are introduced in a session; only the ones heard in committee have a chance of making it into law.  The education bill summary notes the scheduled bills at the top.

What’s Happening at the Capitol

SEE’s Executive Director Brad Lundell worked with legislative staff to draft legislation for property tax relief and reform of school levies.  The bill’s introduction is next week.  If passed, the legislation provides significant property tax relief for the referendum, location option revenue (LOR), and debt-service levies while making the levies more affordable for local taxpayers.  Also, the LOR limit increases by $101, a total of $825 per pupil in the school board’s discretionary operating levy.  I hope to have more details for next’s Friday’s update.

This week, the House Education Finance committee heard from students across the state who participate in the Minnesota Youth Council.  The Council was established to provide legislators with real student experiences to help guide their policymaking.  Chair Jim Davnie always brings the voice of students into the committee at the beginning of the legislative session.  The students’ main concerns included students’ and teachers’ mental health struggles, more diversity in teaching staff,  and maintaining a variety of school choices within districts such as alternative learning centers where some students flourish after failing in the traditional settings.

In heartbreaking testimony in the House Education Finance Committee, teachers and support staff testified to the depth of mental health issues impacting students and staff.  Sue Abderholden, Executive Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness MN (NAMI), said before Covid, one in five students suffered from mental illness.  However, the needs have grown almost exponentially due to the pandemic.  The inability to meet the needs of struggling students is a full-blown crisis.  The committee learned the Current Status of Children’s Mental Health in a Minnesota Department of Education presentation.  There is a dire shortage of school support staff – school counselors, school psychologists, school social workers, school nurses, and chemical dependency counselors – with no end in sight.  Not enough people are pursuing a license to practice in these areas.  Minnesota was making some progress in developing mental health supports across the state, but the pandemic overwhelmed the fragile infrastructure.  The MDE presentation laid out existing and proposed infrastructure to tackle this problem.  I expect the House will offer some significant investments to help build the necessary foundation to support all students and staff,

The House Education Policy Committee on Wednesday looked at the problem of sexual exploitation of children.  With state financial support, advocates in ending the exploitation created a system of support and services to help exploited children regain control of their lives.  Like suicide prevention training to help the adults in schools identify and intervene with troubled students, these exploited children are in the classroom and need help, so information is available if schools are looking for it.

If you are interested in more information on the issues addressed in education meetings, you can visit the legislative committee meetings calendar on the SEE website.  Many times, the committees provide much more information in the committee documents.


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SEE Side-by-Side Comparison

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