May 4, 2021
Dear members of the HF1065 conference committee,
On behalf of Educators for Excellence – Minnesota, I write to extend our support for several provisions found in both versions of the House and Senate education omnibus bills, HF1065 and HF1065, the First Unofficial Engrossment.
Our organization works to ensure that teachers have a leading voice in the policies that impact their students and their profession. Like you, our organization knows that a strong education is a vital building block to creating smart, future leaders. But decades-old education disparities – some of the very worst in the country – have paralyzed any real progress. The COVID-19 pandemic and renewed race and social justice conversations have only punctuated many of these disparities. Facing a historic crossroads, we must prioritize equitable policies that truly put students first.
During upcoming deliberations, we urge conferees to prioritize increased school funding and resources for those who need it most, support policies that aim to recruit and retain teachers of color, and support restorative discipline practices that keep students at school, thereby increasing their opportunities to learn.
With this frame of reference, our 2,300-plus teacher member network supports the following provisions in each omnibus bill:
- These compensatory revenue provisions from the House language in HF1065:
- Article 1, Section 8 which removes the compensatory revenue cap, allowing schools across Minnesota with high-counts of free and reduced-price lunch students to access necessary funds.
- Article 1, Section 15 which requires basic skills revenue to be used on evidence-based practices
- Article 1, Section 16 which requires 80% of compensatory revenue to be used at the school site which generated the revenue.
- The investments proposed by the House and the Senate to increase the number of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers. We urge you to reach an agreement that includes spending additional resources that help our state diversify its teaching workforce.
- The entirety of the Senate language on teacher licensure in HF1065, the First Unofficial Engrossment, which reduces barriers to become a licensed teacher in Minnesota and provides greater flexibility for school districts to hire and retain educators that are the best fit.
- These provisions to ensure non-exclusionary discipline policies:
- The entirety of the House student discipline reform language, especially the non-exclusionary discipline policies, funding, and the change to current kindergarten through third grade dismissal protocols.
- We also thank the Senate for including a similar ban on dismissals for the same student age groups. Our members agree that such suspensions at a young age hinder educational development, they are not a developmentally appropriate negative reinforcer for undesired behaviors, and continue to disproportionately impact students of color.
- The House language in HF1065, Article 1, Section 13, which would expand school performance measures to ensure broad participation in honors programming and reporting on how many students are on track for graduation.
Additionally, we oppose the following provisions and urge members of the conference committee to reconsider the following:
- The Senate language in HF1065, the First Unofficial Engrossment, Article 2, Section 11. In singling out transgender students, this language fully discriminates against trans students from participating and exceling in intramural or interscholastic activities.
- The entirety of the House language in HF1065 that burdens college educated Tier 2 licensed teachers with the need to complete a traditional teacher preparation program, even though they have already demonstrated to be effective teachers as reported by their principals over a three year period. These educators were initially hired to fill a shortage area, and more than 1 in 5 of Tier 1 and Tier 2 teachers are people of color. Eliminating the pathway to a more permanent Tier 3 teacher license would only further hinder efforts to recruit more of these teachers.
- The House language in HF1065, Article 3, Section 62, which would repeal the requirement that school districts must report to the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) information on probationary teachers which accepted a continuing contract position or who were released. This information is key to knowing which licensure areas are seeing the largest turnover and which teacher preparation programs have been successful in placing their teachers.
Over the coming weeks, we look forward to working with you to create an education budget that puts students first. A targeted, needs-based approach and innovative interventions and investments will yield tremendous, generations-long benefits for all Minnesota students.
Educators for Excellence - Minnesota