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Candidate endorsement questionnaire – SPFE office

2024 Candidate endorsement questionnaire

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Party endorsement*

Education Minnesota’s top priorities are supporting educators with professional pay, pensions and health care.

Students learn best when they can develop a trusting relationship with their educators, but what happens when there aren’t enough educators?

From the statewide shortage of teachers, licensed school staff, substitutes and education support professionals to burnout among state college faculty, it’s clear Minnesota must improve the financial well-being of its educators to address the labor crunch in public education. Nine out of 10 schools in Minnesota are significantly affected by the educator shortage, which harms students of color, students with disabilities and students from rural areas the most.

Understaffing accelerates burnout, low pay forces educators to work multiple jobs, and spiraling health insurance costs encourage educators to work sick. Add in broken pension plans, and it’s no wonder educators are reluctantly leaving their students for higher wages outside public education.

Educators are worth more—and they know it. That’s why Education Minnesota, a union of more than 84,000 educators in E-12 and higher education, supports a package of bills designed to recruit the next generation of passionate and knowledgeable educators, and retain the best group of education professionals in America.

To offer our students the highest-quality education, employers must pay their educators fairly from day one through retirement, show them the respect they deserve and reduce burnout. Together, these proposals are a responsible reaction to the staffing crisis. Our students, and educators, have waited long enough.

Educator Pay

1. ESP living wage: Will you support legislation to ensure that all education support professionals earn a living wage of at least $25 an hour?*
2. Due to significantly below-market compensation for teachers, most school districts in Minnesota are having difficulty filling teaching jobs, and state colleges report a continued decline in the number of graduates from teacher preparation programs. Would you support creating a minimum salary for all licensed Minnesota teachers of $60,000 a year and an $80,000 minimum salary for licensed teachers with 10 years of experience and a master’s degree?*

Pensions

3. Will you support increasing state funding to ensure the financial sustainability of public pension funds?*
4. Will you support exploring the necessary benefit improvements in order to provide educators with a secure retirement, including reducing early retirement penalties, lowering the normal age of retirement and a career threshold that will help recruit and retain educators?*

Health care

6. Do you support educators having access to a mandatory statewide health insurance pool, just like other state workers?*
7. Do you support the current language that allows educator locals to unilaterally seek a bid and join the Public Employee Insurance Program (PEIP) as the insurance provider for local bargaining units?*
8. All Minnesotans deserve access to affordable health care and publicly managed plans like MN Care and Medicare are some of the most efficient plans out there. The legislature is currently seeking a federal waiver to expand MN Care to more residents. Do you support expanding all public health care programs to include more working people?*

Education funding

9. Please indicate your support or opposition to the following components of our full-funding agenda.

a. Reverse Minnesota’s perpetual underfunding of education by significantly increasing the per-pupil funding formula.*
b. SPED cross subsidy: The state must fully fund special education costs instead of relying on school districts to pay for them.*
c. EL cross subsidy: Fully fund the costs districts pay to provide quality English learner programs and instruction.*
d. Lower class sizes: Lower class sizes so teachers can give students more of the individual attention they need and deserve.*
e. Full-service community schools: Expand access to full-service community schools across the state.*
f. Teachers of color: Fund programs to increase the number of teachers of color significantly so teachers providing instruction better reflect the students in our classrooms.*
g. Student support: Continue providing additional resources for school districts to hire more student support staff, including counselors, social workers, psychologists, nurses and other job classifications.*
h. TDE/Q Comp: Fully fund the 2011 Teacher Development and Evaluation law, an unfunded state mandate, to ensure teacher quality and lift the cap on the Q Comp program.*
i. Professional development: Provide professional development to all staff around cultural competency and trauma-responsive classrooms with aims of closing the discipline disparity gap.*
j. Education debt relief: Provide debt relief to retain teachers so they can afford to stay in the classroom.*

Taxes/revenue

10. Would you commit to raising revenue to ensure the wealthiest corporations and richest households pay what they truly owe in taxes so every student, no matter what they look like or where they live, can attend a fully funded public school that prepares them to pursue their dreams?*
11. Education Minnesota believes in restoring fairness to the state tax code by raising revenue from the very wealthiest corporations and richest households and reducing the reliance on local levies to fund schools. Considering your own experience and expertise, are there other progressive, equitable ways to raise state revenue that you would recommend the union consider supporting?*
12. Fully funded schools require adequate and stable revenues. Will you oppose tax cuts and carve outs that lower tax collections or narrow the tax base?*
13. A balanced tax code draws revenue from a mix of income, sales, and property taxes. Will you support policies that maintain both adequate funding and a sustainable balance between revenue sources?*

Higher education

14. Do you support increasing the state’s direct investment in public higher education to significantly reduce institutions’ reliance on tuition?*
15. Will you support investments in capital bonding projects that preserve buildings, remodel classrooms and keep our technology assets current?*
16. Do you support DEI efforts on our college campuses and universities?*
19. There are efforts to expand the North Star Promise to Minnesota's private colleges and universities. This would dramatically increase the amount of public money going to private institutions. Do you support the expansion of the North Star Promise to include private colleges and universities?*

High-quality professional educators

Standardized testing

Honesty in Education

23. Education Minnesota believes all students should have the freedom to feel safe and welcome in their public school, no matter what they look like, where they’re from, how they pray, transgender or not. Do you agree?*
24. Students bring many needs into their public schools, but our union believes they all deserve the freedom to grow with the help of support for their mental health and with lessons in how to recognize and control their emotions, which is sometimes called social-emotional learning. Do you support increasing support for students’ mental and emotional health in public schools?*

Time to Teach

25. The planning and differentiating that teachers do daily needs more time. Most after school “prep” is filled with meetings. The current statute falls short of the time needed for preparing lessons. Will you support adjusting this statute to increase prep time?*
26. Will you support legislation that protects an educator’s prep time so it can’t be used for meetings or having to sub for colleagues?*
27. Do you support paid, dedicated time outside of student contact time for special education teachers to complete their paperwork and attend required meetings?*

School safety

Parents and educators are growing more concerned about the safety and well-being of students and educators in Minnesota’s schools. As the educators of Education Minnesota develop proposals to ensure a peaceful and productive learning environment in schools, would you support:

28. Creating incentives for school administrators to enforce districts’ codes of conduct without bias and/or creating accountability measures for those who don’t?*
29. Increase reporting and transparency in worksite safety when reporting physical injuries and emotional trauma in the workplace?*

Union Rights

30. The ability of workers to come together in union and bargain collectively has been vital for reducing wage gaps by gender, building the middle class, and limiting wealth inequality in Minnesota. Do you support expanding and strengthening workers’ rights to join a union and bargain collectively?*
31. Will you oppose any legislation or constitutional amendments that would weaken collective bargaining rights, the right to organize, the right to strike, automatic payment of union dues, union access and activities at worksites or other anti-union policies backed by anti-worker groups?*

Privatization

33. Do you oppose state tax credits for private K-12 education tuition and expenses?*
34. Will you support policy changes that will ensure a stronger accountability system with necessary oversight and reporting to ensure quality management and instructional practices in charter schools?*
35. Will you support a moratorium on new charter schools until such changes are made?*

Your role as a legislator

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