For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – Representative Carlos Mariani (DFL—St. Paul) announced today that the Minnesota House of Representatives passed a K-12 education budget bill by a vote of 78 to 56.
Pending a vote in the Minnesota Senate, the legislation is on its way to Governor Mark Dayton’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill funds all-day Kindergarten across the state, invests $40 million in early learning scholarships, and adds $234 million on the per-pupil formula, or roughly $156 per pupil.
The investments are strongly tied to meeting ambitious goals called for in the bill that include closing the achievement gap, raising high school graduation rates, achieving literacy for all students by third grade, and having all students acquire career and college readiness by graduation.
The funds are a sharp contrast from education bills of the past decade. As Minnesota remained trapped in a cycle of perpetual deficits, the fiscal burden fell on the backs of students and schools in the form of painful budget cuts. As a result, a number of school districts cut back to four-day school weeks. Even more alarming, Minnesota slipped from the top 10 in funding to 22nd and now ranks 47th in the nation in classroom sizes.
“This is a historic bill that will open the doors of opportunity for countless Minnesota students,” said Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL—St. Paul), who chairs the House Education Policy Committee. “It invests in the kinds of proven tools like early childhood education that we need to close our achievement gap and build the world’s best workforce. This is going to usher in a new era of educational excellence. Thanks to this bill, Minnesota is poised to reclaim our role as a national leader in education.”
In addition to providing badly needed new dollars for schools, the budget includes reforms to student assessments and diagnostics, teacher licensure, and integration initiatives to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent as effectively as possible.
Reforms to student assessments and diagnostics, teacher licensure, and integration initiatives included in the bill are key to making sure the new investments deliver meaningful results and improved outcomes.
For example, the bill replaces the limited use GRAD exam with career and college readiness entrance exams. Students will take these new tests beginning in middle school to provide parents and kids with important diagnostics to empower them with early planning for their career goals and success in learning.
“Simply put, it’s a smarter, fairer approach,” said Rep. Mariani. “We establish an array of options that can be used over a longer time span. By starting these tests early on when students are in middle school, parents and teachers can help kids correct course before it’s too late. It turns our testing system into a tool that helps our learners move forward instead of acting as a punitive barrier that holds them back.”
The bill takes evidence into account that suggests the current Minnesota Teacher Licensure Exam (MTLE) has kept talented teachers out of our classrooms. According to Rep. Mariani, teachers and stakeholders have stated time and again that the MTLE’s basic skills test is extremely problematic and results in high failure rates, large expenditures on test taking, and prevents truly talented people from getting licensed.
The K-12 Education bill recognizes this problem and renews the availability of temporary teaching licenses for those who cannot pass the basic skills test until a new way to measure high quality teaching is created. It also establishes a task force to recommend that alternative way to assess a teacher candidate’s skills.
In addition, the education package includes a major bill Rep. Mariani shepherded that reinstates integration revenue and does so in a way that expects stronger accountability relative to academic achievement.
Under this provision, the Achievement and Integration for MN (AIM) revenue program requires participant districts to use research-based methods and longitudinal data to increase integration and close the achievement gap. New accountability measures and best practices will ensure improved outcomes.
“Overall, this bill makes sure Minnesota taxpayers get a lot of bang for their buck,” said Rep. Mariani. “We’re turning the page on an era of cuts to our kids’ futures and writing a new chapter where every learner receives the tools and support needed for academic success. I could not be happier with what we’ve accomplished in this bill.”
Rep. Mariani encourages his constituents to contact him with any questions about the K-12 education bill. He can be reached by phone at (651) 296-9714, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by postal mail at 381 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.