A new school year has begun and a number of educational improvements the Legislature made this year are now in effect, benefitting of students, families and teachers throughout Minnesota.
E-12 FUNDING AND POLICY BILL
Students at the E-12 level are seeing an increase in funding, fewer mandated tests, improved teacher licensure regulations and a greater investment in early education.
The bill funding an historic investment in our students and schools spends $17.23 billion over the biennium, a $1.4 billion dollar increase over the current budget. This translates to an average of approximately $350 more for each student in the three school districts comprising the vast majority of House District 38A – Centennial ($406), White Bear Lake ($313) and Forest Lake ($334) – this biennium over the last. This increase provides these local school districts the flexibility to meet their particular needs in educating our children.
The Legislature also implemented meaningful reforms including fewer mandated tests to increase classroom learning time, as well as improving access to quality educators by streamlining out-of-state teacher licensure reciprocity.
A new law also helps prospective teachers by ensuring College in the Classroom students who earn Postsecondary Enrollment Option credits will be able to transfer those credits throughout the MnSCU system. Future teachers also can now access criteria regarding the effectiveness of teacher training programs. Low-income students can receive help through a program called College Possible that gives high school students a leg up on preparing for college.
A $95 million investment in early learning initiatives includes scholarships and school readiness aid. The measure the Legislature passed allows this funding to be directed where it is needed most, as opposed to a universal plan that would have diluted the effectiveness of our tax dollars.
HIGHER ED BILL
Numerous changes also have been implemented to benefit higher education. The new bipartisan, student-focused higher education budget provides tuition relief to college students, addresses important workforce needs in Minnesota and aims to improve student safety on campus.
There is a tuition freeze in 2016 and a 1-percent tuition reduction in 2017 for two-year MnSCU students, along with a tuition freeze in 2017 at four-year MnSCU schools. Funding also was increased for the State Grant Program, which assists students from low- and middle-income families.
Campus safety also is important for students and new uniform sexual assault policy is being implemented on campuses statewide to respond to harassment and sexual violence.
These new laws will have a real positive impact on the future of education in Minnesota.
As area students get back into their classroom routine this fall, I extend an invitation to every one of them to share with me their ideas on how we can make our educational system even better.