After being vetoed by the Governor and re-negotiated behind the scenes in the last few days of a contentious special session, House File 2, the education omnibus bill, was signed into law on Monday, May 30. That’s not where the story ends as a special legislative session may be called to further address parts of this law. Here’s what you should know about the process to date and the contents of the education bill.
- This is a Messy Process: On May 30, Governor Dayton signed the proposed education bill (HF 2), along with the other eight constitutionally required “budget bills,” making them law. At the same time, Dayton also line-item vetoed the budget for the Minnesota House and Senate to operate, in an attempt, he said, to bring leaders of the Republican-controlled Legislature back to the table for a special session to address a handful of policy provisions with which he disagreed. In particular, he opposed elements of the tax bill, public safety bill, and the teacher licensure provision of the education bill. This puts us in rather uncharted territory, as all of those bills are technically now law, but could still be used as bargaining chips if the Republicans agree to the proposed special session. Also, legal action may ensue challenging the constitutionality of Dayton’s defunding of the Legislature, as it may be a violation of the separation of powers. To learn more, check out:
- Licensure Reform: For the past three years, Educators for Excellence (E4E) members - classroom teachers - have advocated to streamline the licensure process so that it is more fair and transparent. HF 2 includes many of these improvements, including some provisions that are being opposed by Education Minnesota.
- Teacher Prep Report Card Disaggregated by Race: In 2015, E4E members helped pass a “teacher prep report card” that requires colleges and universities to report on a common set of outcomes, including graduation rates, licensure rates, satisfaction rates, job placement rates, and evaluation outcomes for their teachers. This year, we successfully included an amendment in HF 2 requiring the report card to be disaggregated by race so that future teachers, as well as teacher prep programs, would be able to see how effective different prep programs are in training people of color.
- Collaborative Urban Educator (CUE) Funding and Accountability: E4E members championed a proposal to increase funding for the CUE program and to open up that funding to more institutions. Currently, four programs get funding to diversify their teacher candidate pools through the CUE program. With our proposed changes in HF 2, the state would allocate money competitively so that leaders can evaluate any program on the merits of its application and track record of success. This includes $220,000 in new funding available immediately, with all funding becoming competitive in 2020.
- Education Funding Formula: There will be a two percent, yearly increase to the funding formula to keep up with inflationary costs.
- Alternative Teacher Prep and Grow-Your-Own Programs: Under HF 2, the state will provide $750,000 in one-time funding for the start-up of alternative teacher preparation programs. Currently, the Board of Teaching has not approved any alternative preparation programs. (Teach For America currently partners with a university to provide licensure to its corps members and therefore is not considered an alternative licensure program under law.) In addition, the state will provide $3 million in new funding for Grow-Your-Own programs like the one in Minneapolis Public Schools, aimed at recruiting non-licensed staff to become licensed teachers.
- American Indian Teachers: Under HF 2, the state will allocate $960,000 in continued funding over the next two years to assist American Indian teachers in becoming licensed. This money will be used for tuition scholarships and loan forgiveness.
- Last In, First Out Layoffs: Under state law, there has been a default to seniority-based layoffs if districts do not negotiate an alternative system with their local unions. HF 2 removes this default, requiring all districts to negotiate their own methods for conducting layoffs. Many districts in the state will have to negotiate with their local unions, as most districts have used the default. It should be noted that a district may choose to maintain seniority-based layoffs.
- Early Learning: Governor Dayton’s signature program, Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten, keeps its existing funding, which was under threat of being zeroed-out in previous versions of this bill. In addition, HF 2 provides $20 million in new funding to early learning scholarships and $50 million to a new “School Readiness Plus” program, which will provide charters and other schools with funding to start pre-K programs.
- Perpich Center for the Arts: Unlike previous versions of this bill, the Perpich Center for the Arts will continue to receive funding and will not be closed. HF 2 requires stricter oversight of the organization due to mismanagement over the past few years and it allows the state to sell the Crosswinds Arts and Science School in Woodbury, which Perpich took over in 2013.
A special legislative session may be called to continue working on licensure or any other component of the education bill. Please sign up here to be informed about opportunities to share your voice with legislators.