St. Paul, MN - Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced a supplemental education plan to deliver three billion dollars of new investments to support students, families, public schools, and school staff.
Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL-Minnetonka), vice-chair of Early Childhood Finance & Policy, released this statement:
“Early learning begins well before kindergarten, and House DFLers want all children to have access to high-quality learning to close opportunity gaps and set them up for success now and later in their lives. I support our plan to provide early learning scholarships, and establish a statewide voluntary preschool program, for thousands of low-income and vulnerable young kids. We must use the historic surplus to fund our public schools, help our youngest learners and prepare all our students for a bright future.”
INFORMATION ABOUT THE BILL:
The bill includes a focus on literacy and overall academic success, including the Governor’s BOLD literacy package and funding for Math Corps, as well as investments to ensure children of color see themselves in their curriculum through the Network for the Development of Children of African Descent and ethnic studies course work. Investments also include efforts to increase the number of schools providing free meals to students, to help teachers develop the skills they need to keep students in the classroom, to build on last year’s investment to increase teachers of color and Indigenous teachers, and to provide students with the support they need to succeed in school.
The bill’s mental health package, totaling $475 million, addresses the shortages of school support personnel that benefit students’ social, emotional, and physical health, and funds wrap-around services for students. The legislation provides dedicated funds to support hiring around 1,100 student support personnel so students have greater access to school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses.
The bill addresses the more than $700 million funding shortfall for special education services, as well as the nearly $150 million deficit in English Language (EL) Learner services. The House DFL’s education bill provides more than $500 million annually over the next three years to reduce the amount school districts pay to make up for these shortfalls. The investment in the special education cross-subsidy would reduce the cross-subsidy by over 55% of its current level, and the investment in the EL cross-subsidy would eliminate that cross-subsidy by 2026.
The bill also funds targeted support for the teachers and educational support professionals who serve students with special education needs by providing 20 hours each of paid training for paraprofessionals and paid time for special education teachers to complete required due process paperwork.
The House Democrats’ bill expands opportunities for Black, Indigenous and Minnesotans of color to pursue a career in teaching by expanding the Grow Your Own Teacher Training Program, which benefits students of color and Indigenous students to see themselves in their educators. Access to ethnic studies curriculum and replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day is included in House DFLers’ education proposal. It also improves literacy and increases the use of non-exclusionary discipline and prevents the suspension and expulsion of students through grade three, except in situations where the student creates an immediate and substantial danger to self, surrounding persons, or property.
Other significant policy provisions in the bill include expanding flexibility for school districts around online learning options, allowing teachers with a Tier 1 license to join the teacher bargaining unit, requiring courses in personal finance and government/citizenship, and several changes related to the educational experience of Indigenous students.
Opportunity gaps open long before kindergarten. Access to early learning is one of the best ways to prevent them in the first place. House Democrats’ bill expands Early Head Start and awards early learning scholarships to more than 20,000 low-income and vulnerable infants and toddlers. Once these children turn four, they’ll have access to a statewide, voluntary pre-kindergarten program through local schools, Head Starts, and licensed child care providers. Together, these investments will put thousands of children on the path to success in kindergarten, school, and life.
The House DFL proposal uses Minnesota’s historic budget surplus to provide $1.15 billion in additional education funding in fiscal year 2023 and $2.12 billion in fiscal years 2024 and 2025. Last year, the divided Legislature approved the largest formula increase for public schools in 15 years. The compromise budget funded public education by $554.204 million in fiscal years 2022-2023 and $668.957 million in fiscal years 2024-2025, which included 2.45% and 2% increases in the per pupil funding formula in Fiscal Years 2022 and 2023, respectively.
In comparison, Senate Republicans have included 0.35% of the state’s $9.25 billion budget surplus to fund the resources Minnesota students and schools are counting on.