Education policy bill contains controversial private school provisions

The Senate Education Committee has approved an education policy bill that contains many of the bills heard over the legislative session and includes some language suggested by Governor Dayton.

The bill also contains some controversial issues, including a provision that would change Minnesota’s school attendance laws, allowing public school students in grades 9-12 to attend a private school and receive credits for those classes. Students would be allowed to take courses at private schools for up to one-third of minimum hour requirements. School districts could accept the credits only for non-sectarian coursework. Students would be allowed to attend religious courses, but would not be allowed to receive credit for them. Students can currently participate in “shared time” requirements for up to three hours per week.

Another provision would enhance third grade reading proficiency provisions that give districts more discretion on holding back students who can’t read up to grade standards and that would require student personal learning plans be designed for students. This new requirement would increase teacher time by about 22,000 hours per year; there is no corresponding funding increases to help schools meet these new mandates.

Other provisions include:

  • Modifications to the All Kids Count Act by extending the implementation date, authorizing six program pilot sites and community engagement requirements
  • Charter school changes
  • Federal funding encouragement for STEM education
  • Removing a reference to GED tests in state law
  • Changing school district referendum notification requirements
  • Clearly defining concurrent enrollment
  • Changing physical education standards requirements

(SF 1222)