Spring is here (Minnesota-style, with snow flurries during the first week). It’s also “first deadline week,” which means that we are entering the intense phase of the legislative session where we see which bills will continue to advance through the legislative process. This past week was an exciting one, as I presented three important bills before the deadline, which focus on protecting student data privacy from constant and discriminatory surveillance, fully and strategically funding our schools, supporting Hennepin County’s homelessness and housing insecurity programming to ensure that all members of our community have a safe and stable home to return to each night.
I recently had the honor of presenting a bill before the entire House of Representatives on the floor, which protects sensitive “education support services data,” which is data around the additional supports for vulnerable students struggling academically. I am proud that my first bill on the House floor is one that will support students in our community.
As we forge ahead with the session, here are updates on my recent activities:
On March 14, I presented my bill on the House floor to make private the data collected by government entities that is considered “education support services data. The impetus for this bill is the data being collected through facilitation of such services by Hennepin County to reduce disparities for the county’s most vulnerable residents. These types of services are being considered by other counties in Minnesota as well. This bill is a step in the right direction and will ensure that this program in Hennepin County to reduce educational disparities can be replicated statewide without concern over sensitive data being made public.
There were a few fireworks during the floor presentation and I enjoyed some back-and-forth about the purpose and nature of these new data protections for at-risk students. You can view the entire floor proceedings here.
On Monday, I presented my bill to protect student data privacy to the Education Policy Committee. This bill provides new student privacy protections on technology providers and school-issued technological devices. The bill’s goal is to bring student data protection into the 21st Century, addressing the negative impact of the status quo on students of color, low-income students, LGBTQ students, and neurodivergent students. For more context, here is a link to my recent editorial in the Star Tribune.
Tuesday, my bill addressing the longstanding tension between education funding targeting low-income students and our ability to address childhood hunger in our schools received a hearing. Currently, we allocate this funding, called “compensatory revenue,” based on the number of free and reduced lunch forms collected. When we initiate free meals, based on state or federal funding programs, families have less incentive to complete the forms required to generate this critical funding. Thus, schools can be hesitant to accept such hunger aid.
Joining me at this hearing was Dr. Renee Corneille, Superintendent of the St. Anthony/New Brighton School District, who shared her insights into how this Catch 22 plays out and why we must revisit compensatory revenue in order to ensure that we are funding sufficiently and strategically in these extra supports for low-income students in our community. Our most important responsibility is to ensure every child in Minnesota has the opportunity to thrive.
On Wednesday, I presented legislation on behalf of Hennepin County that will provide state funding to replace the expiring federal funding for Hennepin County’s effective programming to address housing insecurity and prevent homelessness. This funding will support operations and services at shelters, ensure 24/7 operations at all existing shelters, shelter-diversion programming, housing-focused case management and encampment response services, and capital projects, including physical improvements and construction. I am excited to be carrying this meaningful bill on behalf of Hennepin County to ensure that this programming can continue as federal funding sunsets.
One of the bills I have authored this session is the Period Equity Bill to end period poverty in Minnesota. No student should miss school because they can't afford menstrual products. In April, the Education Finance Committees will decide whether or not to include language from the Menstrual Equity Bill in their omnibus finance bill. On March 31st there will be a phonebank with Planned Parenthood North Central States. Please join us virtually to call our supporters and ask them to contact their legislators to support the Menstrual Equity bill.
Never phonebanked before? No worries! We will provide a comprehensive training and talking points, and our organizers will be present throughout the event to answer questions.
You can sign up here.
If you have questions, ideas, or feedback that you’d like to share, please don’t hesitate to reach out. You can email me at email@example.com or call (651) 296-4331.