It’s been a terrific summer in northern Minnesota and now kids in our area and throughout the state are preparing to head back to school for the year. This was always such an exciting time back when my kids were in school. This year, as a new legislator, back-to-school days cause me to reflect on the progress we made in the Legislature for all Minnesota students.
For many, education is a top issue, and rightly so. Whether it be reforms or increased funding, I heard from area residents, teachers and school administrators about a need to prioritize our students. Ultimately, in this past session, we worked across party lines to enact increased funding and needed changes to our schools.
First, our new education plans invests $1.35 billion more in the next two years, including a two percent yearly increase to the per-pupil formula. This was an increase requested by Minnesota school districts, and we delivered. To put the total investment in a local perspective, school districts in our area will see almost $4 million in new per-pupil funding which means more dollars in the classroom for our students and teachers. That’s real money that will help learners K-12.
In addition to the increased funding, we passed a number of common sense reforms. These include ending the “Last In, First Out” default layoff policy which allow schools to retain the very best teachers, investment in early education, and addressing the teacher shortage by reforming teacher licensure standards.
Since session ended, I have been meeting with school superintendents and school board members across the district and having good discussions about these reforms and other changes we should work toward in the future.
And as kids head back to school, I’m encouraged with the improvements they’ll start to see this fall.