Home February-March 2023 Legislative agenda focuses on major increases in supports for students, educators

Legislative agenda focuses on major increases in supports for students, educators

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Minnesota’s five-month legislative session started Jan. 3, and with the newly-elected pro-public education and pro-union majorities in the House, Senate and the governor’s office, Education Minnesota is ready to fight for big wins for educators, students and schools.

Education Minnesota is calling for more for Minnesota’s students and educators at the Legislature in 2023—more quality time together, heathier learning spaces and more great educators who are compensated like the experts they are and reflect the diversity our state.

“The mandate is clear for the governor and the leadership of the House and Senate to come together and pass the multi-billion-dollar investment in public schools needed to provide every student with the personal attention from their educators, a healthy learning environment and access to world-class educators in every classroom. The voters – and educators – of Minnesota expect nothing less,” said President Denise Specht in a press release after the election.

Since November, Education Minnesota members from around the state who serve on the Legislative Action Committee have been working with staff to develop the union’s legislative agenda. This is a starting document and given the historic nature of our state’s budget surplus and the pro-education majorities, this agenda is the union’s baseline of priorities and goals for this session.

The agenda is also approved by the educators on the Education Minnesota Governing Board.

Our legislative agenda includes bills designed to recruit, develop and retain the best group of teaching professionals in America. Without great educators, our students cannot receive the world class education they deserve.

Education Minnesota is aiming high because the needs are urgent. Chronic underfunding by the state and two years of historic inflation are putting extraordinary pressure on educators and students. Fulfilling the promises of full funding will cost billions of dollars, but if Minnesota is serious about making sure every student can pursue their dreams, no matter where they live or what they look like, our elected leaders must get serious about funding what works.

Learn more about our legislative work and how you can get involved in pushing for the passage of these issues and more at www.educationminnesota.org/advocacy/at-the-legislature.

From pension reform to dedicated funding for mental and physical health teams to living wages for education support professionals, Education Minnesota’s Legislative Agenda was crafted by educators from across the state and informs the union’s work at the Capitol. The agenda includes:

Students and educators benefit from more high-quality time together
  • Reduce class sizes and/or improve educator-to-student ratios in public schools.
  • Immediately increase the per-pupil funding formula to compensate for two years of historic inflation and pin future formula increases to the inflation rate.
  • Increase access to time in college by renewing Minnesota’s commitment to public higher education by returning to statutory levels of funding for state colleges and universities.
  • Fully fund services for all members of the school community, including E-12 students in special education and English language learners.
  • Provide dedicated due process time to special education teachers to meet students’ needs and to hold meetings with families.
  • Increase “prep time” for effective lessons for all teachers.
  • Eliminate unnecessary policies and mandates that cost valuable time during the school day.

Create a universal child care and early learning program, using mixed delivery, where low-income families pay nothing, and no family pays more than 7 percent of family income.

Healthy spaces for educators and students are a requirement for academic and professional success
  • Fully staff mental and physical health teams by hiring more licensed school counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and other support professionals.
  • Provide all students with free meals.
  • Offer a curriculum that reflects the diversity of Minnesota and makes all students feel welcome and engaged, no matter what they look like, where they come from or how they identify.
  • Eliminate racial and cultural biases in standardized testing that create barriers and anxiety for students.
  • Ensure students in Minnesota’s colleges and universities study in safe, healthy buildings by funding the backlog of Higher Education Asset Preservation and Renewal Account, or HEAPR, requests.
  • Give more students and their families easy access to full-service community schools, which offer a range of services and supports for their health and well-being.
Provide every student with access to great educators, including educators who reflect the diversity of race, place, gender and age of Minnesota
  • Recruit and retain high-quality educators through competitive salaries and benefits, commensurate with other professions with similar educational requirements, as well as education debt forgiveness.
  • Reform the teacher pension system to make the profession more attractive to new educators and, for current teachers, provide a fair, high-quality benefit that permits a dignified retirement even before age 66.
  • Address the critical staff shortages facing our schools in licensed and non-licensed positions, including by ensuring all education support professionals earn at least a living wage of $25 an hour.
  • Fund 16 hours of paid training for all paraprofessionals who work directly with students.
  • Enact specific policies to attract and retain teachers of color, including paid student teaching, mentoring and other programs and protections.
  • Ensure all teachers are trained on cultural relevancy, special education needs and literacy before entering the classroom.
  • Advance and expand collective bargaining proposals, including expressly permitting educators to bargain for class sizes and mental health support for students and staff.
  • Allow Tier 1 teachers to join the bargaining unit of teachers with Tier 2, 3 and 4 licenses.
  • Provide 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave for educators and all other families.
  • Reduce the cost of health care for educators and all public employees.
  • Provide contract parity, including salary and benefits, between K-12 teachers and licensed early childhood, early childhood family education (ECFE) and adult basic education (ABE) teachers.
  • Provide Minnesota’s youngest learners with access to well-prepared teachers by requiring pre-K teachers in public schools to hold the appropriate state license. For current teachers without state certification, fully fund their time and tuition to earn a license.
  • Provide all students with access to professional media specialists who can teach the differences between reliable information and misinformation and disinformation flooding social media.

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