January 7, 2011

/ 7 January 2011 / Parents United
January 7, 2011

And so it begins…
We are off and running. The 87th Legislative Session has begun and during the session Parents United will provide a weekly Legislative Update to keep you informed. We will be here with you until the end of May, helping you understand what the relationship is between the Capitol and your local schools. By monitoring House and Senate Education committees, we can be your eyes and ears. You have a life outside of the Capitol, so go on and live your life, BUT take a minute each week and read all about the very real events that will affect your children’s education.

Parents United updates will provide:

  • Information about legislation that is being considered and analysis of how that legislation might affect our schools. We do this from a parent perspective.
  • A flavor of the conversations that are happening in the halls of the Capitol.
  • Links to articles, reports and education events.
  • Suggestions of what you can do to respond to this information.

If you want to follow up-to-the-minute events at the Capitol, follow us on Twitter or Facebook! If you know others who could benefit from receiving these updates, encourage them to sign on to the Parents United e-list.

“Kids first, no excuses, no exceptions”
This first education committee meeting of the 87th Legislative session was convened on January 5, 2011. In this House Education Finance Committee meeting, after Representatives introduced themselves and shared their district concerns, Chair Pat Garofalo made several points in his opening statement. (Listen to the audio.)

  • Their motto will be “Kids first, no excuses, no exceptions.”
  • The committee will start on time, have fun and treat each other with respect.
  • Bills will be heard from the minority party.
  • Single subject bills will come out of this committee, passing out earlier in session.
  • The committee will leverage technology, lining up testimony needed for multiple committees in one day and they will accept remote testimony.
  • Watch words will be “Choice, Accountability and Results.”
  • The Chair said that “there are schools in Minnesota that are beating the odds” and the committee will have the opportunity to visit those schools and see what they are doing with struggling students – to learn where there are successes.
  • He continued that where in the past “there has been a moral imperative to educate all children, it is now crucial for job creation to close the achievement gap” and they are to use proven data driven strategies to do it.

The House Education Finance Committee meets Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 – 2:15 pm, Room 5, State Office Building.

Let us introduce ourselves
The early committee meetings are an opportunity for the members to introduce themselves and share their ideas about education and serving on the committee. In the House Education Reform Committee, I was struck by how many teachers, former teachers, spouses and/or children of teachers are on the committee. All spoke of a commitment to “kids first” legislation. In her introductory statements, Chair Sondra Erickson laid out a few questions that she believed should be used as filters for possible legislation.

  • “Will it improve teaching?”
  • “Will it increase learning?”
  • “Will it empower parents?”
  • “Does it promote local control?”
  • “Does it provide parents choices within and/or outside of the public system?”

The House Education Reform Committee meets Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:15 – 9:30 am, Basement Hearing Room, State Office Building.

A Look Ahead

  • Expect to see hearings on Alternative Teacher Licensure bills next week.
  • House Education Reform is scheduled to hear from the Board of Teaching on Tuesday, Jan. 11.
  • Expect the Senate Education Committee to convene on Tuesday, Jan. 11.

Remember, if you are interested in attending a committee meeting and would like to meet with me at the same time just email me, mary@parentsunited.org, to arrange it.

**At this time of year, it is always good to check the Minnesota State Legislature website often to make sure the meeting is still scheduled.

What Can I Do?

  1. Plug the phone numbers for the Governor’s office and your State Representative and Senator into your cell phone.
     
  2. Create an email group for your elected officials, bookmark the contact page for those without direct email.
     
  3. Forward this update to friends and suggest they Sign on to receive Parents United weekly Legislative Updates weekly during the session.
     
  4. Become a friend of Parents United on Facebook.
     
  5. Follow Mary’s tweets.
     
  6. Read and respond to the updates and action alerts.

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Mary Cecconi, Executive Director (mary@parentsunited.org)
Parents United for Public Schools
1667 Snelling Avenue N., St. Paul, MN 55108
651-999-7391
www.parentsunited.org

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