Last year, Minnesota’s progressive champions swept the ballot, securing historic control of all three branches of government, and this year, we get to reap the rewards. In the spring, Governor Tim Walz signed a sweeping education bill that invests in students and teachers.
Here are 6 ways the back-to-school hustle and bustle will look different this year thanks to progressives.
Student Mental Health Investments
Progressives secured funding for student support personnel such as school counselors, nurses, social workers, and psychologists. This investment in mental health experts in our schools will address the increased need for mental health support from our students.
Universal Free Meals
As Minnesota’s students go back to school this month, they won’t need to worry about having enough money to pay for their meals. Under this new legislation, Minnesota will pay the gap between federal funding and the meal cost regardless of a family’s income, providing free school lunch and breakfast for all students.
Increasing Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers
Research shows that a diverse teaching staff improves outcomes for all students. In Minnesota, 37% of our student population is BIPOC, but only 5% of Minnesota teachers identify as such. Progressives are addressing this issue by investing in programs to help schools hire more teachers of color and American Indian teachers.
In a recent study, 84% of those surveyed who struggle to afford menstrual products have reported missing school as a result. Minnesota’s students in grades 4 through 12 can now access free menstrual products at school. This change eases the burden on students who struggle to afford menstrual products so they can focus on learning.
Schools are now required to maintain a supply of nasal naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose. Having the overdose antidote nasal spray readily available in our schools will keep our students safer in the event of an overdose.
Voluntary Prekindergarten & School Readiness Plus
Voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) and school readiness plus (SRP) programs prepare children from income-eligible families to enter kindergarten. Right now, there are extensive waiting lists for these very popular programs, but the new funding passed by progressives this year will increase program capacity so that more families can set their youngest learners up for success.
Big wins for Minnesota students
Seeing what we have achieved for our students under progressive leadership has truly been inspiring. And as conservatives pass harmful laws and underfund public schools across the Midwest, it’s more important than ever that we fight to keep making Minnesota’s schools a better, more equitable place for our students to learn.
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