Senate DFLers: Republican Education Agenda Badly Fails to Meet the Moment

With students, parents, and teachers still reeling from an unprecedented pandemic, and a

State budget surplus, GOP only offers unnecessary bills that will burden schools 

Top Senate DFLers said today that the Senate Republican Majority missed a key opportunity to help hard-hit Minnesota​ students, parents, teachers and schools recover from two years of an unprecedented pandemic when it offered unnecessary, burdensome, and divisive legislation that does nothing to address the real needs facing every school in every community across the state.

Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen (DFL-Edina) and Senator Chuck Wiger (DFL-Maplewood), the top DFLer on the Senate Education Committee said parents, teachers, and education leaders across the state have repeatedly told them that they need more resources to not only navigate the fallout from the pandemic, but to also help students succeed into the future. The Senators said improving the per-pupil formula, addressing unaffordable special education costs that hurt every school district, and investing in mental health services for students, teachers and other school personnel that need them – especially during the ongoing pandemic – were what Minnesotans needed most.

The two lawmakers said that despite all the needs facing schools across Minnesota, the Republican majority is not addressing them, instead pushing a series of measures that create unnecessary new mandates, even though more than 40 existing provisions in Minnesota law ensure parents and families are full partners with teachers and schools. They said the bills are a “solution in search of a problem” that will only add bureaucracy and become burdens to schools, increasing the likelihood that teachers will leave the classroom. 

“Minnesota’s schools, teachers, and parents are still reeling from the pandemic, and with a state budget surplus that could help address these problems, the Republican majority have failed repeatedly to meet the moment,” said Leader López Franzen. Today’s legislation represents the priorities of our colleagues in the majority, and they have made it cleartheir focus is on distractions and not the solutions that Minnesota’s children, parents, and teachers are asking for. The Senate DFL is prioritizing legislation that addresses the real education needs facing Minnesotans.”

In addition to today’s legislation, Senate Republicans priorities for education includes legislation that would a defund public education by shifting $178 million away from public education to private schools. These priorities are out of line with most Minnesotans, and would only hurt public education in the state, the Senators said. 

“With an unprecedented budget surplus, we have a generational opportunity to invest in our children’s education, helping them to recover from the effects of the pandemic disruption they faced, but also by addressing the underfunding facing schools across the state,” said Senator Wiger, ranking DFL lead on the Senate Education Committee. “We hear loud and clear from our students, parents, and teachers, and they’re asking for support with mental health resources, teacher recruitment and retention, stronger wrap-around services, and meaningful investment in the backbone of our education system, which is the basic funding formula. We can and should deliver on those critical needs this year.” 

The Senate DFL is committed to solutions that delivers for Minnesota’s students, parents, and teachers. This includes putting more money into the per pupil formula for public school funding and reducing class size, addressing the special education cross subsidy, investing in student mental health and school counselors to help students and families who have been impacted by the pandemic, and teacher and staff recruitment and retention, a critical issue that has been stalled by Republicans as they undermine the work of teachers.

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

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Chuck Wiger represents District 43, which includes portions of Ramsey and Washington counties in the northeastern Twin Cities metropolitan area.

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