The back to school season is upon us as the vast majority of schools across the state have opened their doors for another year of learning and growth, reminding us of the vital role education plays in the lives of our children.
While many families are not thinking about education policy during this busy and exciting time, I want to share with you some of the steps the legislature took this past session to ensure every child in Minnesota has the opportunity to receive a world-class education.
First, parents and educators should be pleased to learn there is more funding reaching every classroom in Minnesota. For our communities, local school districts will see substantial funding increases that will give schools more flexibility to spend these funds where they see fit—whether it is used for after school programs, retaining and attracting the best teachers, or reducing class sizes.
The per-pupil increases for 2016 and 2017 for school districts in our communities are as follows:
While funding certainly plays an important role, it is only a part of the equation. In addition to more funding, the legislature called for fewer mandated tests to increase classroom learning time and provided improved access to quality educators by streamlining out-of-state teacher licensure processes.
At the same time I am very concerned about the stagnant results on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments, which may indicate that teachers continue to struggle with how to teach material (curriculum) that supports the standards and the benchmarks of language arts, math and science (there are also state standards in social studies, art and physical education). I am committed in 2016 to find out whether this is the case and to suggest changes.
I hope you and your family have a great start to the school year and a blessed year of learning!