Today, March 9, 2021, Senate DFLers convened a press conference to discuss their priority in this legislative session around investing in our students and schools so that our education system supports all students, regardless of their race, zip code or economic status. Among their education legislative priorities this year is fully funding education to provide relief to districts that were affected this past year due to COVID-19 and to make efforts to close the opportunity gap within Minnesota’s current system. Other priorities include the need to invest in mental health services to support students holistically, to hire more teachers of color so that Minnesota can create a diverse workforce that is able to respond to the growing student population and to invest in additional workforce development and skills training to provide opportunities for Minnesotans to obtain good-paying jobs that meet the needs of our 21st century economy.
“It is imperative that we invest in our students and schools, particularly in a year when so many are recovering from the effects of COVID-19. We need to not only invest in our current system but improve it for the better. This is the time for us to create impactful change and give our kids the best chance they have to start off on the right foot to get a quality, equitable education,” said Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood). “Minnesota’s education system has had one of the worst opportunity gaps in the country and this has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. We need to fully fund our education system so that students get a quality education no matter their race, income, or location.”
“This year has shown the demonstrated need of our students to have access to mental health services. With growing rates of depression and anxiety within our student population, we need to provide resources for them to go to for support,” said Senator Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview). “For students to succeed and flourish in their education, we need to have a holistic approach that looks at the whole child and supports their mental well-being, along with their academic and non-academic needs. It is a serious issue that Minnesota has one of the worst student-to-counselor ratios in the country and there is a sense of urgency to do something about that now.”
“As a teacher myself for 25 years, I know how well students succeed when we have quality teachers. I am proud to be continuing my work on this bill in the Senate to increase the number of teachers of color within our education workforce. I have been passionate about providing more representation in the classroom and supporting a system that develops opportunities for teachers to grow throughout their careers to better support students,” said Senator Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton). “Students succeed when we have quality teachers. With a diminishing workforce, we need to develop opportunities that not only retain our current teachers but enable more students, especially students of color, to enter the education field.”
“Our legislature has been leaving kids behind for far too long. As a state that is supposed to care about our neighbors, we need to make sure that as lawmakers, we are truly supporting our education system and our students. The first step to do this is to make a large investment in our public education system that will allow schools with the opportunity to develop and meet the needs of their students,” said Senator Steve Cwodzinski (DFL-Eden Prairie). “As a former teacher, there was nothing more rewarding than working with students and helping them succeed in their studies. But to do this, students need to be given adequate resources to thrive. This includes making sure we have summer school options for students who have fallen behind, providing relief to those who have been affected by COVID-19, and improving our system to provide the same quality education equitably throughout our state.”
“We need to make sure that we are offering our students many post-secondary opportunities to pursue, including developing their technical skills for specialized, high-paying jobs that can meet the needs of our businesses” said Senator Greg Clausen (DFL- Apple Valley). “Minnesotans deserve a living wage, and we need to ensure we have the training, certificate, and credential opportunities that lead to a fulfilling career. Senate DFLers have brought forward legislation to establish the Minnesota Direct Care Service Corps, job training programs for underserved communities, and more. A vibrant 21st-century economy requires a 21st-century workforce, and the Senate DFL is committed to investing in the programs and resources that can prepare every Minnesotan for success”