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

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Legislative Update from Rep. Sondra Erickson

Friday, February 26, 2021

Dear Neighbors,

As the Republican-lead on the House Education Policy Committee, I spend a great deal of time and energy in St. Paul focused on improving the educational experience for Minnesota students.

Part of that includes making sure that students across the state return to the classroom as soon as possible because the COVID-19 pandemic has caused tremendous harm to the academic and emotional well-being of students.

Therefore, I expect to find in the proposals from the Walz Administration, via the Department of Education, ways to provide for recovery of lost learning. Unfortunately, none have been brought up yet.

In fact, last week I argued against the Walz education policy bill because it is littered with policy provisions that will not help students regain lost learning.

When the deputy commissioner of K-12 education introduced policy changes in committee earlier this week, I was appalled that she did not stress that education policies should focus on the intellect of a child or his/her cognitive needs. Instead, she emphasized that a child’s most important characteristic is limited to skin color, gender, and/or sexual orientation.

The Department of Education is supposed to be the leader in how to help every child achieve academically and socially to the best of his/her ability. Instead, the Walz administration remains focused on ancillary issues.

Here are a few specifics that I am most concerned about:

  • New mandates crowding out local control without any added flexibility for schools to employ innovative options to reverse the learning loss from school closures.
  • Tighter controls that limit parental and student options for educational programs.
  • Measures related to student discipline that impede a teacher’s ability and responsibility to maintain classroom order.
  • Lower standards for teacher licensure and student achievement.

There are also serious concerns about changes to discipline policy in our K-12 schools. Questions surrounding the circumstances in which a student can be removed from the classroom for misbehavior measures to protect teachers and staff from violent students, and more have been raised.

On the finance side, the Walz administration calls for an increase of $654.6 million but, again, makes no mention of how to help schools reopen or how to close the ever-increasing achievement gap. It also includes new mandates and with that, threats that if districts and charters do not follow certain new policies, they will face human rights investigations of non-compliance.

Minnesota teachers, students, and staff deserve better than the bills put forth by the Walz Administration. I will continue to push for more local control, parental involvement, and a return to focusing on academic achievement instead of issues that stray from the core mission of schools—educating the next generation. 

Staying in Touch

Please be sure to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6746 or via email at rep.sondra.erickson@house.mn.

Have a good day,

Sondra

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