The start of the 2015 session is now in its third week and I must admit the pace is much slower this year than in the past. Last year, the second year of the biennium, saw a start date of February 25 with early committee deadlines and election year politics as part of the mix. Schedules filled up fast and committee agendas kept things moving from the very start.
With the capitol renovations going on around us and shorter committee time slots, we have seen a much more relaxed pace to start the 89th legislature. I serve on the same committees as last year, Commerce, State & Local Government, and Education finance and policy. Because bills are just getting introduced and working their way out of the revisors’ office, committees have not been running at full speed yet. It will only be a matter of weeks and days before we wish we had the extra time we enjoy now to meet with constituents and interest groups with their legislative concerns and agendas.
One committee, Education, has had several meetings so far. This morning we heard a progress report on the World’s Best Workforce legislation, which was passed into law in 2013. The legislation was designed to ensure all school districts in the state were making strides to plan for continuous school improvement addressing 5 goals. Those goals include:
- All children are ready to start kindergarten
- All 3rd graders can read at grade level
- All achievement gaps between students are closed
- All students are ready for career and/or post-secondary education.
- All students graduate from high school
The report this morning was encouraging. Administrators from Anoka- Hennepin, St. Paul, Bloomington, the Dept. of Education and others reported a great start to this initiative. In many instances, these goals became a part of a district’s strategic plan. A parent and community meeting requirement as part of the bill has seen positive discussions allowing better communication and more innovative planning going forward.
Stakeholders were generally upbeat about the World’s Best Workforce’s initial rollout. We hope to see these best practices and models around the state shared to help our schools meet our future workforce needs. As our population ages; as skilled worker jobs remain unfilled; as we wrestle with high achievement gaps, especially in our urban districts, we hope the blue print met with great optimism today will be the roadmap to help Minnesota develop, indeed, the world’s best workforce.