1. Deadlines for introducing new bills this session
As of last week, just under 300 E-12 bills have been introduced this session. A small percentage will become law at this time. By Friday, March 16th, all bills having a chance to become law this session will need to have been heard by at least one committee in the House or Senate. By the following Friday, March 23rd, all bills to remain viable this session will need to have been heard by at least one committee in both the House and the Senate. There are exceptions here for money bills.
2. Teacher evaluation
During last year’s special session, legislation was passed directing the MN Department of Education to put together a working group to come up with a teacher evaluation process by the start of the 2014-15 school year. There are 43 members, including four legislators who are ex-officio members. There are also four MDE staff among the 43. Others are teachers, principals, superintendents, a program consultant, an executive director of research, evaluation and assessment, Education Minnesota local presidents/teachers, a representative of the MN Business Partnership, an assessment and evaluation coordinator, a field staff person from EDMN, the Chair of the Special Education Labor Management Committee (Minneapolis Federation of Teachers), representatives from the MN School Boards Association, a person who occupies the Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development at the U of MN, a Chamber of Commerce representative, and a trustee from MnSCU. There do not appear to be any school psychologists (or other related services personnel for that matter) on the working group at this time. Since most school psychologists fall under a teacher’s contract, however, what this group comes up with would also apply to those school psychologists. You are encouraged to look into this further and ensure that the voices of school psychologists are heard as teacher evaluation procedures are discussed. The MSPA Board and MSPA’s lobbyist are also working to explore the role our association and school psychologists and other related services personnel across the state could play as well.
3. Teacher tenure
Finally, you may want to take a close look at HF 1870/SF 1690. These are the bills proposing to change teacher tenure. They are promoted as a way to rid the schools of ineffective teachers. However, the way the bills read there will be a continuum of effectiveness, from least to most effective, as determined by school administrators. Thus, you could be an effective teacher, but if another individual in your license area were deemed more effective, you would be released from your duties no matter how long you or the other individual had been working in a certain license area. And again, it appears that many if not most school psychologists in Minnesota would be seen as teachers with respect to this legislation.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist