Robust Senate Education Bill a commitment to students and teachers

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Initiatives addressing the state’s teacher shortage problem, investing in early education and student support services, and investing in the need-based State Grant Program are featured prominently in the Senate’s $148.2 million education and higher education budget articles that passed last Thursday.

“The Senate’s bill serves as a commitment to Minnesota’s students, remedies our state’s insufficient student support services, increases equity among school funding, and helps students get the financial support they need to attend college. The Senate DFL operates under the belief that all students deserve a quality, affordable education – no matter their zip code. I’m proud to support this bill,” said Senator Greg Clausen, Vice Chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee.

The E-12 Finance bill includes around $25 million dedicated to our state’s youngest learners for high-quality, voluntary pre-K for Minnesota 4-year-olds. Additional funding was included for parent-child home visiting programs and Reading Corps. The pre-K funding increases to $75 million in the 2018-2019 biennium and will help serve just under 4,000 Minnesota 4-year-olds next year. The benefits of pre-K programming are becoming increasingly clear as a necessary tool to closing the state’s achievement gap and ensuring all kids arrive prepared on the first day of kindergarten.

In order to help address teacher shortages in areas like math, science, and special education, the Senate’s E-12 bill includes just under $10 million to fund a variety of programs. These investments include $2 million in grants to students to help pay for their student teaching and $2.25 million to fund successful homegrown programs that create paraprofessional pathways to teacher licensure. Solving Minnesota’s teacher shortage crisis has been a long-time goal and that is reflected in this year’s supplemental budget bill.

Other key provisions in the bill include:

  • Teacher training and development: $10 million
  • Eliminating the cap on Qcomp: $13 million (FY18-19 biennium the investment expands, totaling $61 million)
  • School counselors: $13 million
  • Reading Corps: $3 million
  • Generation Connect: $10 million (equals $10/student to help defray costs of technology or facility upgrades in school buildings)

The Higher Education Finance Bill invests new funding for the State Grant Program, increases the state grant tuition caps, and lowers the Assigned Family Responsibility – letting students and families have more state funding and reducing their financial burden. The bill also invests $12 million in MnSCU to provide program support and ensure students are receiving the education they need to succeed. An additional $13 million is invested in the U of M to fund a resident undergraduate tuition decrease, and $5 million is provided for health training restoration which will provide health care programs and services across the state.

“This bill is building on the commitment we have made over the past few years to recommit to real investment in our colleges and universities. Our students and institutions deserve strong support from the state, and this bill will help to make sure they have the resources they need to succeed,” added Sen. Clausen.

The Senate also makes a commitment to equity by providing an additional $14.32 million in new funding for equity education grants that will work to reduce disparities in the higher education system for students and families who have been underserved in the past.

Other key provisions in the bill include:

  • Funding for open textbooks and open library initiatives, to reduce costs for students
  • Support for programs to help match students and jobs
  • Early childhood online teacher preparation programs
  • Changes to supplemental instruction that will save students time and money
  • Support for Occupation Scholarship Funds
  • Reports and recommendations to better support diverse teacher recruitment
  • A pilot program to help students with intellectual and developmental disabilities succeed in school
Senator Greg Clausen
Greg Clausen lives in Apple Valley and represents District 57 in the southern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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