Representative Davnie –
We are writing to express our support of HR288 supporting LETRS grants for teachers across the state.
We asked the Minneapolis Public School Board to add the LETRS bill to their legislative agenda. The vote failed 6-3. The majority of those in opposition cited support for long standing funding concerns and how supporting grants that would help children across the state would take funds from Minneapolis students.
A current board member publicly stated, "I am not interested in advocating for grants for the state as a whole as a Minneapolis Board Director."
We take a different view than the Minneapolis School Board. We view literacy as a common good and MPS’ role is to serve the common good. Having a literate state benefits everyone. We know illiteracy is costly: our jails are full of young illiterate adults, the social costs of underemployed and unemployed, and the significant costs to our schools.
Families move in and out of Minneapolis, we need the schools in our nearby communities to teach children to read, just as those districts need Minneapolis to teach children to read.
For years, we have watched as students struggle with literacy and the solution has often been simply throwing more dollars at our schools and districts and then wondering why nothing changes.
What makes this different? Researchers, teachers, journalists have been making the case that the majority of our children require a structured literacy approach. Teachers have expressed concerns over their lack of training in their college education programs and the curriculum and interventions they are provided in our districts often don’t align with the research on how children learn to read. Our district shared with us the largest skill gaps for new hires were training in foundational literacy and being able to operate in a diverse urban classroom.
LETRS training is an actionable tool that is being successfully used in other states and in our MN pilot sites to improve core instruction and outcomes for children.
As we talk to parents of struggling readers, they share the significant emotional toll placed on their children of not being able to fully participate in the classroom.
As parents of Minneapolis children, whose children have experienced the impact of budget cuts, we want fully funded schools. We also passionately believe that literacy is a social justice issue.
We want our Representatives to support children in Minneapolis who are struggling to read, but we also want to make sure struggling readers in St. Paul, Robbinsdale, Ely, Willmar, St. Cloud and districts across the state have access to highly trained, effective teachers utilizing evidence-based structured literacy curriculum. We ask you to add HR288 to the House Education Finance Omnibus Bill.
Thank you for your time,
Sara Spafford Freeman David Weingartner
Minneapolis Public School Parents