Dear Fellow School Psychologists:
As you probably have heard, Governor Dayton has indicated he will not sign the legislation regarding layoffs (tenure versus evaluation) as drafted by the Republican majority. He, as his Commissioner of Education earlier stated, noted the legislation as drafted is premature since the teacher evaluation process is still being developed. The Republicans on the conference committee developing HF 1870, the bill under discussion, have indicated they will send a bill to Governor Dayton even though he has said he will not sign it. At the beginning of this week, the conference committee on this bill met and ironed out the differences between the House and Senate bills. The reworked bill will now go to the House and Senate floors for a vote and then on to Governor Dayton.
You probably have also been reading about the problem with the basic skills test for teachers which has developed. In the past teachers could fail the test and still teach for up to three years. This year legislation was passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Dayton which said that teachers could not enter the classroom until they passed the test. This has led to a situation where a significant number of classrooms will not have a teacher present. This is particularly true in immersion schools. Apparently the test was reworked a couple of years back and made significantly more difficult. Some examples of test questions were given in the Star Tribune's April 1 very detailed article. The legislature is now seemingly going to give the situation a second look.
Some legislation this year has been recycled from the past. One example is the legislation coming out of Florida which would rate schools A through F. Teachers in the better performing schools would be eligible for extra remuneration. This is HF 638 (Myhra) and SF 1302 (Thompson).
There is also a voucher bill. Parents of children in low performing schools whose income is below a certain level would be eligible for vouchers which could be used in non-public schools. Interestingly, the psychologist who testified with regard to the benefits of this bill is, I believe, the same psychologist who testified last session regarding the positive benefits of retention. On the voucher bill his testimony was challenged by the lobbyist for the Association of Metropolitan School Districts. These voucher bills are SF 388 (Nienow) and HF 273 (Woodard). An excellent article on these bills is to be found in the March 4th edition of the Sunday Pioneer Press.
More bills of possible interest to you will follow shortly.
Ralph D. Maves, MSPA Lobbyist