The 2021 Minnesota Legislature convened in early January, with much of the focus so far being on the COVID-19 pandemic as it still remains a concern.
As of press time, the House and Senate have held hearings on updates from the Minnesota Department of Education and hearing from parents and students on their experiences.
Education Minnesota is working with lawmakers on legislation that would address many of the COVID relief suggestions put forth by the disrupted learning research paper written by our Educator Policy Innovation Center.
Legislation would include:
- Funding for quality, extended learning.
- Waiving the MCAs and other state or federally mandated test and moving toward better locally driven assessments.
- Requiring districts to develop long-term plans for future disruptions.
- Closing the digital divide by expanding broadband and allocating resources for families to pay for devices and internet.
Another key focus for Education Minnesota this session is addressing the need to completely reimagine public education and fully fund it so students have the racially just schools they deserve.
If we want all students to thrive and succeed, Minnesota must build culturally responsive schools that reflect the diverse students they serve. Education Minnesota believes we can start doing this by passing legislation to:
- Increase racial equity funding and
- American Indian aid.
- Attract and retain teachers of color.
- Expand ethnic studies curriculum.
- Expand trauma-informed practices, which are even more needed now because of COVID.
- Expand full-service community schools.
Pieces of this agenda were already receiving hearings as this edition of the Minnesota Educator went to press.
Education Minnesota is also working on the child care recommendations in the EPIC paper written with ISAIAH’s Kids Count on Us coalition, as well as working with other labor partners on paid family and medical leave.
Because 2021 is also a funding year, Education Minnesota will be supporting proposals that support teaching and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and the different learning models it brings with it, as well as pushing for overall increases to education funding this session and beyond.
Virtual lobby days happening this session!
Due to the pandemic, all lobby days for the 2021 Legislature will be held virtually via Zoom. These virtual lobby days will be scheduled and coordinated by local leadership and Education Minnesota staff as they have been in the past. Reach out to your local president if you are interested in organizing one for your union.
Education Minnesota is also planning issue-specific lobby days throughout the session, where members from all over the state can join and speak to legislators on the issues that matter most to them, including COVID relief legislation.
More details on the issue lobby days and how to schedule one for your local will be available at www.educationminnesota.org/advocacy/at-the-legislature/details-on-lobby-days.