We have obtained support from a number of groups as we have moved around the state. We have endorsements from Ed Allies: Daniel Sellers, the DFL Disabilities Caucus, Tribal Nations Education Commission, Hamline University, School of Education, current and former members of the MEGT organization, Center for Education Reform: Ted Kolderie, and other organizations. As we have held coffee shop meetings and Gifted Forums we have built additional endorsements and support. We have met with legislators, parents, school board members, superintendents, teachers, gifted coordinators and community members. We have gained support from all those groups.
There exists a number of reasons why we have that support. For legislators, it is a combination of reasons. For some it is the issue of economics, those legislators see it as positively impacting tax revenue. For other legislators, it is the issue of positively impacting the achievement gap. For superintendents and directors, there was a clear message. They would support this legislation if it was a fully funded mandate, which it is. For gifted coordinators with weak programs, they saw this legislation as a positive influx on funding to expand existing programming and for those without programming they saw the legislation as a pathway to build a strong program. For community members, especially the business community, this legislation meant developing a workforce ready for the changing workplace and the shift towards automation and robotics. Two mayors told us that they would testify if we had a hearing.
We also met with MASA and MSBA, along with EDMN reps. No group could challenge the argument we brought forward to defend this legislation. MASA told they would not fight us. MABA would fund programming fully but we not willing to offer agreement on the mandate. EDMN, in very brief meeting with us, decided to check in with Connie B. We are now assuming they told her that they would only support a mandate for Universal Screening. In a second meeting we were more focused and precise in sharing information but it was clear that they already had a plan. But they would not answer a question we posed when they expressed their decision to only support mandating universal screening. We wanted them to know that they had ignored the information we had shared and chose the path of least resistance. EDMN and MSBA wanted all districts to have Universal Screening but no mandate for services or programming. More good money going into districts without a way to find out how it was spent. That replicates a pattern of behavior that has been going on for the 20 years, with over $700M being given to schools with no level of accountability. Our legislation has that monitoring system built in to hold districts accountable. Teachers support our efforts. When setting up Forums, we always reach out to teachers in a district and invite them, and find that they do support our efforts. The $39PPU means, the legislation will ask districts to prepare all teachers and the increased funding all be employed as a carrot.