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Capitol Update 7 - 2013

Capitol Update 7 - 2013

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Published by Terri Bonoff
Weekly Capitol Update
Weekly Capitol Update

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Published by: Terri Bonoff on Feb 22, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Capitol Update 7 
This week at the Capitol, a number of issues were brought to theforefront. The Healthcare Exchange moved forward, public testimony ongun-control measures was heard (hundreds came to testify), andanticipation continued to build surrounding the release of the Februarybudget forecast.This week’s update provides some detail about newconversations, yet I continue to hear from so many who remainconcerned about the budget proposal. Following the February forecast, Iwill share my best thoughts regarding what might be a way forward topromote growth and financial stability.
What an amazing new platform; Massive Open Online Courses(MOOCs), are a phenomenon that has caught on around the globe. Theidea is to provide online lectures and interactive assignments by thevery best professors for free online. People around the world can accessand participate in these online courses and receive educational benefit that otherwise may not have been available to them. In the committeeon Higher Education and Workforce Development, Daphne Koller, afounder of Coursera, one of the leading providers for MOOCs, visited toshare her creative enterprise with the committee. You can see herTEDtalks lecture on MOOCs here. It is worth watching! We are excited about this new platform and its’ opportunity to be a catalyst for change.MOOCs have the potential to help bend the cost and access curve for
future generations. So far, over two million people have taken thesecourses and the positive responses have been astounding.This is not a panacea. We are not advocating replacing ourteachers with this option. Yet, as a complement to a traditionalapproach, this provides an enormous opportunity that we in Minnesotawill explore. There are some things that we must tackle before thisexploration can begin. For instance, when we first investigated thefeasibility of providing MOOCs in Minnesota, we discovered an arcanelaw that requires any college or university participating in a programlike this to pay a fee. Senator Jeremy Miller introduced a bill to negatethis law and thus open the door for our post-secondary institutions toparticipate in MOOCs. As you may have read in the paper, the very next day, the University of Minnesotaannounced that they are working withCoursera to introduce five courses.
Language Immersion:
One of the first pieces of legislation that I introduced this sessionwas a bill to modify our basic skills test requirement for immersionteachers. Many of you are familiar with the fact that the
Senator Bonoff addresses the Minnesota State Student Association at their Rally day at the Capitol.
School District 
has a nation-leading language immersion program. Iheard from several parents and district representatives who claim that this program (and others like it around the state) is in jeopardy becauseof the strict requirements placed on the teachers. These teachers, whoare recruited from their native countries to teach our immersionstudents in their native language, are forced to pass a rigorous test inEnglish. Their classroom language expectations demand little English.Yet we place the burdensome requirement on them to pass a test in alanguage they have yet to master.These immersionprograms are showingmuch promise for younglearners across the state. It is reported that studentsinvolved in immersionprograms are leading theirclassmates in Math,English, and other subjectsas well. The bill that Rep.Selcer and I put forwardgives immersion teachersan additional 36 months topass the test; it is reportedin the education community that ESL (English as a second language)students take seven years to master English. I am proud to say that thisbill passed through the Education Policy committee without debate andwill be heard on the floor for the entire Senate body to vote on. Staytuned for further updates.
I understand that not all who read this are affected by theHollydale situation. For those that are, please click here to readthe latest .
Topic Rewind: Do you favor legalizing same sex marriage?
Senator Bonoff was joined by a constituent by a parent with students inMinnetonka’s Language Immersion program to testify in favor of givingImmersion teachers an additional 36 months to pass the Basic Skills test requirement for Minnesota teachers.

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