For more information contact: Matt Roznowski 651-296-8875
ST. PAUL, MN – Last night marked the culmination of years of hard work by Education Policy Chair Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL—St. Paul), his DFL colleagues, and education advocates to bring transformative progress to Minnesota’s education system.
The Minnesota House of Representatives voted 83-50 to pass a comprehensive K-12 Education Finance and Policy omnibus bill that makes historic investments in Minnesota’s students, enacts smarter and fairer tools to assess academic achievement, and puts Minnesota on the path to building the world’s best workforce.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that 2013 will go down in history as the Education Session,” said Rep. Mariani. “Last night’s vote was a transformative moment that will make a positive difference in countless lives for decades to come.”
The House DFL education plan sets ambitious goals into law such as closing the achievement gap, reaching a 100 percent high school graduation rate, 100 percent literacy by third grade, and 100 percent career and college readiness by graduation.
In order to meet those goals, the bill fully funds all-day kindergarten, invests in early learning childhood scholarships, and increases the basic funding formula for schools by $315 million, or $209 per pupil, over the next biennium.
“We know that putting more money into the system alone won’t solve the challenges facing our students, so our plan also includes reforms to student assessment and diagnostics, teacher licensure, and integration revenue,” added Rep. Mariani.
For example, the bill includes a provision authored by Rep. Kathy Brynaert (DFL—Mankato) that replaces the 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.
“Our approach is a smarter and fairer way to use tests,” said Rep. Mariani. “It provides a suite of options over time and starts early so 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 barrier that holds them back.”
The education bill also 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 eventual joblessness due to continual failure.
The House DFL plan recognizes this problem and renews the availability of temporary teaching licenses for those who cannot pass the basic skills test. It also establishes a task force to recommend a high quality alternative way to assess a teacher candidate’s skills.
“We’ve got to make sure we put the best teachers possible in our classrooms,” said Rep. Mariani. “The reforms in our bill make that goal possible.”
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.
“This is a big deal for Minnesota,” Rep. Mariani said of the education bill. “We’re poised to enter a new era of educational excellence that will rival Governor Wendell Anderson’s Minnesota Miracle. Our future is very bright.”
The House K-12 Education omnibus bill will go to a conference committee with the Minnesota Senate’s version of the legislation. After differences between the two bills are ironed out, each chamber will hold a final vote before the legislation can be signed into law by Governor Mark Dayton.
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.