A set of companion bills were introduced in the Minnesota House and Senate last week that would establish “Inclusive School Enhancement Grants” to make “schools’ curriculum and learning and work environments more inclusive.”
House File (HF) 824 and Senate File (SF) 1012 were introduced Feb. 7, and referred to their respective education policy committees. Of the four sponsors of the Senate version of the bill, just one is a Republican, while three of the 20 sponsors of the House bill are Republicans.
Under the bills, the commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Education would be required to “establish a grant program” to support “collaborative efforts to make school climate and curriculum more inclusive and respectful toward all students, families, and employees, especially those of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.”
“The grant program must provide funding that supports collaborative efforts to make schools’ curriculum, and learning and work environments more inclusive and respectful of students’ racial and ethnic diversity and to address issues of structural inequities in schools that create opportunity and achievement gaps for students, families, and staff who are of color or who are American Indian,” the bills state.
Grant recipients would be required to submit an annual report to the Minnesota Department of Education that “must assess the impact of those efforts as perceived by racially and ethnically diverse stakeholders.”
Another section of the bills would create a “collaborative urban and greater Minnesota educators of color grant program,” which would require the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board to “award grants to maximize the number of teacher candidates who are of color or are American Indian.”
Similarly, the bills call for “equitable access to diverse teachers,” and state that the “percentage of teachers who are of color or American Indian in Minnesota should increase at least two percentage points per year to have a teaching workforce that more closely reflects the state’s increasingly diverse student population and ensure all students have equitable access to effective and diverse teachers by 2040.”
One portion of the bills calls for the creation of an “aspiring Minnesota teachers of color scholarship program,” which would “support undergraduate or graduate students preparing to become teachers and belonging to a racial or ethnic group underrepresented in the teacher workforce who have demonstrated financial need.”
As The Minnesota Sun previously reported, another bill currently making its way through the committee process would amend the Minnesota education statutes to mandate a “cultural competency training” on topics such as “gender identity” and “implicit bias” for all public school teachers.
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Cheryl Youakim (Right)” by Cheryl Youakim. Photo “Mary Kunesh-Podein (Left)” by Mary Kunesh-Podein.