First New Law: Teacher Basic Skills
The Senate approved my Teacher Basic Skills bill Monday on a 60-1 vote and it was signed into law on Wednesday as Minnesota’s first new law of the 2012 session. This will require teachers to successfully complete a basic skills examination in math, reading, and writing before receiving a license as a classroom teacher.
Previous law allowed teacher candidates to take the basic skills test when ready to apply for a license and permitted a teacher who failed the basic skills test to receive and even renew a temporary one-year teaching license up to two more times while continuing to teach.
Out-of-state applicants for Minnesota teacher licenses will also have to pass the test. Minnesota has received criticism from groups like the National Council on Teacher Quality for permitting persons who have not yet passed state licensing tests to teach in classrooms, and I was proud to have been able to work closely with educators and members of the administration to craft a bill that works for everyone, and puts Minnesota’s kids first.
Maps redrawing legislative and congressional district lines for this fall’s elections were released Tuesday. Our current Eagan/Burnsville Senate District 38 will become 51, and add three Burnsville precincts.
The redistricting exercise is done every 10 years after the census. The number of districts remains the same but district borders are changed to make sure each district has approximately the same number of people in it, currently 80,000 per Senate district. There were some surprises in the court-ordered plan, including 48 legislative matchups, and 23 new open districts.
Please remember that you continue to be represented by your current senator and representative, as well as congressperson. To see how the change will affect you or a family member for the upcoming election, go to the state Geographic Information Services website at www.gis.leg.mn/html/redistricting.html, click on the interactive map and enter the address.
I will continue to work enthusiastically on your behalf and welcome your questions and comments on legislative issues.
The Senate unanimously passed and the Governor signed a bill Thursday that amends the state law on public notification for sex offenders. This bill changes current law to require community notification prior to a provisional discharge and instead allows full community notification upon the transfer of the sex offender from the Minnesota Sex Offender Program to a residential treatment facility, such as a halfway house. Under the provisions of this bill, all levels of community notification would occur, including notifying law enforcement, former victims, daycares and schools or other groups that may fit a victim profile and general community meetings in the neighborhood. The measure was fast-tracked and received near unanimous support in both houses after the announcement that a high-risk pedophile held for 19 years in the Minnesota Sex Offender Program will be discharged to a St. Paul halfway house under a precedent-setting ruling. It is effective immediately.
The Senate will take up the “last in, first out” (LIFO) bill, which I co-author. HF 1870 seeks to change the law to end seniority-based layoffs will help our schools keep their best teachers in the classroom. Minnesota is one of only 11 states that require school districts to base teacher layoffs on seniority, without consideration of teacher effectiveness.