Edina legislators support free speech in Minnesota schools

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – The Senate Education Policy Committee recently approved a proposal mandating all public and charter schools in Minnesota to silence open dialogue in the classroom. The bill, S.F. 2487, requires school districts to adopt policies that prevent classroom teachers from expressing views and prohibits the introduction of controversial matters.

State Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, said, “I am disappointed. The purpose of this bill is to disrupt districts like Edina Public Schools (EPS). EPS enjoys high marks from the residents who recently passed a school referendum with 70 percent approval. This is part of a larger plan by outsiders to disrupt strong districts like EPS and undermine the local control of public education. All the school districts that I represent in Senate District 49 have my full support. Our dedicated staff and the teachers are working hard to prepare our students to be productive citizens, critical thinkers and the workforce of the future. I firmly believe that issues regarding classroom content should be resolved by parental involvement and elected school board members, not state bureaucrats. Decisions about teachers, students, or school administrators should be kept at the local level instead of having a prescriptive one size fits all state level mandate.”

The proposed legislative mandate obligates school districts to implement reporting procedures and disciplinary actions for students, teachers, administrators, and all school employees who violate the policies.

“This bill goes against local control and ignores the teacher shortage crisis. I am concerned about the effect on recruiting teachers into this important profession. Why would anyone want to enter this profession if bringing up current events in the classroom would provoke retribution? Lawmakers should not be in the business of micromanaging classrooms,” said state Rep. Paul Rosenthal, DFL-Edina.

The bill, authored by Sen. Carla Nelson, R-Rochester, is in direct response to a local issue affecting Edina families. After the Center for the American Experiment alleged “indoctrination and persecution” at Edina schools, local officials have called for a civil discussion regarding free speech rights of students and teachers.

“Free speech is paramount. My kids attend EPS and I am not convinced we have a widespread issue that merits statewide legislation,” added Rep. Rosenthal.

This bill will be heard next in the Education Finance Committee.

Senator Franzen
Melisa Franzen represents District 49 in the southwest Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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