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Tiger Talk: Visit to state Capitol is worthwhile

On Wednesday, March 26, I was in St. Paul for the day. I tend to enjoy my trips to the Twin Cities for a variety of reasons, but I like the annual Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) Regional Legislative Day because it affirms the impact Pine River-Backus Schools has on the Minnesota State Legislature.

It demonstrates the impact of our voices on the people we choose to make laws and important decisions — laws and decisions that truly impact our everyday lives!

MASA, which includes all superintendents in the state, is divided regionally and Pine River-Backus is part of Region 5, which covers from Staples to Aitkin and Little Falls to Cass Lake. We meet as a region regularly and three times a year statewide.

At our regional meetings, common issues and concerns will often emerge. We use our Legislative Day to talk with legislators about those challenges; to acknowledge legislative activity and its impact; and to show our appreciation for their hard work.

Beyond MASA, Pine River-Backus is represented by other organizations that have interests in our area, our schools and our students. We are affiliated with the Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA); Schools for Equity in Education (SEE); and the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA).

Our teachers’ union is part of Education Minnesota (EM) and they also provide a solid voice for public education in Minnesota.

The platforms across all organizations are similar and include appropriate school funding and equity in those funding streams. Rural students should be treated comparably to urban schools; early childhood, primary, intermediate and secondary students should be provided the educational tools needed to be successful; teacher evaluation should be meaningful and developmental; and public employees should be honored fairly with attention to today’s health care options.

Other concerns are safe schools; systems for developing pro-social behaviors; Common Core curriculum; special education; and facilities. The list is actually quite longer and more complex.

Ultimately, our legislators have a full plate and each session must deal with the reality of day-to-day operations and special interest groups.

You can see that a visit to the Capitol is a full day with many demanding discussions. Another interesting part of the day is committee meetings. Both the House and the Senate schedule meetings throughout the day with lots of work being done at the meetings and some in the hallways on the way to the meeting! At these meetings citizens and specialists testify regarding topics in which they are well versed and passionate.

It’s always enlightening to attend and actually hear both sides of controversial stories.

On March 26, we talked about school funding, the new teacher evaluation, the need to fund new mandates as they are enacted, health care, testing and facilities. Several local colleagues joined me and it’s a pleasure to report that we are well received and our input matters.

It was a great day in St. Paul!

We visited with Reps. Tom Anzelc, Joe Radinovich, Tom Saxhaug, Ron Kresha and John Ward, and Sens. Carrie Ruud and Paul Gazelka. I will also report that they are all very busy working on our behalf!

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