The Minnesota Senate today approved a bipartisan bill that fully funds E-12 schools with the largest formula increase in 15 years, emphasizes student literacy, mental health, and supporting teachers of color without burdensome mandates. The bill passed with unanimous support and heads to the governor for his approval.
“Our philosophy has been consistent from the first day of session: we are going to focus on students, not systems; on parents and families, not lobbyists and institutions,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Roger Chamberlain (R-Lino Lakes). “I am proud to say this education budget achieves those goals. This fantastic bill is a huge victory for Minnesota students, families, teachers, and local schools.”
The education budget addresses the top request of public schools – money not mandates. This legislation will provide historic levels of funding as well as almost no new mandates on schools. This is the largest student formula increase in 15 years – an increase of $1.1 billion over the next four years. More than 80% of the new funding is placed on the state education formula, the money will be sent directly to local school districts allowing them the flexibility to spend it on the specific needs of their districts.
“The last year has been nothing but a failure to keep our school kids at the forefront of policymaking. They were shifted from in-person to distance-learning to complex hybrid learning formats, isolated from their peers and struggling with inadequate support from excessive mandates and restrictions,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake) said.“Empowering local school districts to address the needs they see in their schools without burdensome new mandates, will help students recover from a year of massive disruption in their education.”
Key provisions included in the final bill:
- A two-year delay in the implementation of all new academic standards. By delaying implementation, administrators and teachers can put their focus on helping students with learning loss instead of bringing on new curriculum.
- Grants are provided to increase teachers of color and American Indian teachers. Research shows that hiring more teachers of color improves the performance of students of color. The benefits include stronger reading and math scores, higher graduation rates, more interest in higher education, and fewer disciplinary issues. Students have reported feeling motivated by having teachers of color as role models, as well as a stronger sense of belonging.
- The bill continues the bipartisan focus on early literacy by expanding the successful LETRS teacher training program. LETRS has become the consensus approach to training educators on how to properly teach reading to young students, particularly students with dyslexia.
- Several provisions to support student mental health, including a grant to the organization LiveMore, ScreenLess to address the effects of social media and screen time overuse and misuse, and funding for youth counseling at the elementary school level. The bill also includes funding for suicide prevention training for teachers and allows schools to use school safety funding for student mental health.