A conference committee has now been formed regarding the tenure legislation. The committee is working from HF 1870. Committee members are Representatives Marani (D), Erickson (R), Downey (R), Woodard (R) and Petersen (R) and Senators Olson (R), Daley (R), Kruse (R), Wolf (R) and Bonoff (D). Petersen and Wolf are the co-chairs.
There have been three meetings to date. The first featured a representative of an organization called the National Council on Teacher Quality. She talked about what research has to say with regard to the issues of tenure and teacher effectiveness. I would characterize the meeting as routine and laid back.
The second meeting featured two individuals who presented separately. The first was an Education Minnesota lobbyist. My observation was that this part of the meeting was contentious. The second presenter was a former union head from the Washington, D.C., Schools who stated he had gone from a strong backer of tenure to one who placed teacher effectiveness first. He was on leave now from the D.C. Schools and was speaking around the country against tenure (last in, first out). He is seemingly employed by Students First, an organization headed by Michelle Rhee, the former chancellor of the D.C. Schools.
The third meeting was a meeting between the Minnesota Commissioner of Education and the conference committee. I would characterize this meeting as contentious as well.
Ordinarily the process would be for the committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate bills, pass the bill on the House and Senate floors and then send it to the Governor for approval or a veto. However, there is talk about an early adjournment. With the meeting this A.M. and the differences in viewpooint between the Commissioner and the conference committee majority, I do not know where things will go from here.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist