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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Sondra Erickson (R)

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, March 9, 2018

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As Chair of the Education Innovation Policy Committee, it is my goal to ensure that every child in Minnesota has access to a world-class education. Part of this world-class education includes making sure that our students are able to learn in an environment that is safe and conducive to learning. The tragedy in Parkland, Florida, has brought the conversation of school safety to the forefront.

First and foremost, my thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends that lost loved ones in the Parkland tragedy. It is impossible to fathom the pain and hurt they are going through.

In response to this tragedy, the House Education Finance Committee as well as the House Education Innovation Policy Committee held hearings this week to discuss safety in our schools. Included in the discussion were a number of bills that address school safety.

The bills were diverse in their approaches to securing schools. They ranged from additional funding for security upgrades at schools to an increased emphasis on suicide prevention and other mental health intervention tactics.

One piece of legislation proposed allows a school district to amend its ten year facilities plan to include provisions that enhance school safety through security modifications to the building—which would include remodeling and new construction. It also would allow this funding to be used to purchase equipment designed to improve school security.

In addition to improving the physical security of our schools, lawmakers are considering mental health initiatives. For instance, in recent years, the legislature has made serious investments in school-linked mental health initiatives that are focused on helping teachers and counselors better identify students that are suffering from mental illness.

I would expect similar legislation to be considered this year as we attempt to better identify and care for students that are struggling with mental illness.

Improving security at schools and improving mental health services are crucial components in keeping our schools safe and I look forward to working to get something done this year on those fronts.

However, ending violence in our schools will take more than improved mental health access and increased security measures. It requires a cultural change in America. We need to make sure that we instill the value of life in our young people, making sure that they understand  that violence is never the answer. We all have a responsibility to be kind and loving to one another. As a nation, we need to step up to the plate and instill these important values in our youth. Parents should talk with their children about treating classmates that are struggling socially with respect and dignity.

No matter what your opinion is on how to address school safety, I encourage you to reach out to me to share your thoughts. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a great weekend,

Sondra

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