January 27, 2021

E4E-Minnesota Executive Director Paula Cole Testifies at Minnesota Education Policy Committee Hearing on HF4

On January 20, 2021, E4E-Minnesota Executive Director Paula Cole testified to the Minnesota Policy Committee in support of House File 4 and on the importance of teacher diversity.

Thank you Chair Richardson. My name is Paula Cole, I’m the Executive Director of Educators for Excellence-Minnesota, a teacher-led nonprofit with approximately 2,000 members. Prior to moving into this role last July, I was a Minneapolis Public Schools teacher and I was teaching last spring when the pandemic started.

Since those first few months of the pandemic, E4E-Minnesota teachers and our members have been loudly and proudly advocating for their students. Unfortunately, the students who have been most impacted by the pandemic are still being left behind.

This is why I’m glad to see House File 4 and the commitment from Representative Hassan to meeting the needs of all students. Specifically, E4E-Minnesota members support the following provisions of House File 4:

  • Extended learning time opportunities

  • Trauma-informed school incentive grants

  • Full-service community school grants

While HF4 contains many policy recommendations on the team’s wish list, we ask you to go even further to target resources to students most impacted by the pandemic. We encourage the House Education Policy Committee to take what is here in this bill and think critically about how impacted communities will be a part of generating the solutions and the implementation. We also need to ensure that this bill contains provisions for the planning, implementing, and evaluating process, so we don’t inadvertently end up with more of the same in a system that is largely designed for middle-class white students. 

In order to achieve the results that you are seeking to make with House File 4, we urge you to simultaneously invest in diversifying our teaching workforce. A diverse teaching workforce has been proven to improve student outcomes. Demographically diverse teachers have higher expectations for students, write fewer disciplinary referrals, and are able to engage in a culturally responsive manner with parents. While you may think that all students enjoy these benefits in our schools, the reality is that students of color and those living in poverty experience our public education system differently than their white or middle-class counterparts. 

We reiterate our excitement to see the alignment between our members’ priorities and the provisions in HF4. Thank you to Rep. Hassan for leading this initiative and to Chair Richardson for hosting this hearing.