June 26, 2024

June 2024 Research Rundown

By Madie Spartz

For June’s Research Rundown—our curated list of recent, relevant research we think is worth adding to the education equity conversation—we’re sharing articles about:

  • Eliminating barriers to teaching for people of color
  • How COVID-19 impacted special education identification
  • Bipartisanship, or lack thereof, in the Minnesota legislature
Eliminating Barriers for Teachers of Color in Minnesota: Lessons from Aspiring Black Teachers

EdAllies Community Action Team, May 2024

This report from EdAllies’ 2022-2023 Community Action Team (CAT), a cohort of Black educators who pursued careers in teaching but were ultimately driven away from the profession, aims to deepen understanding of barriers for teachers of color in Minnesota. Combining their own experiences with analysis of nationwide data, cohort members made recommendations to increase teacher diversity in Minnesota. The top 3 barriers to teaching licensure the CAT reported are: financial and time capacity barriers, specifically unpaid student teaching; rigid and unaccommodating teacher preparation systems, given the lack of diversity of both the student body and faculty members; and the “invisible tax” in K-12 settings—in other words, the expectation that Black educators will take on additional work related to discipline of Black students, liaising with Black families, or serving as experts on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The CAT cohort made several recommendations at the school, district, and state levels to address each barrier area. Those recommendations include a living-wage stipend for student teachers, fewer restrictions on what scholarship funds may be used for, greater accountability for teacher preparation programs, and moving away from seniority-based layoffs in schools.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

As we discuss often in the Research Rundown, Minnesota’s teacher workforce is 94% white. This report provides a zoomed-in look at why that is. While the issue is much-discussed at the legislature and beyond, the report underscores that the issue is more deeply entrenched than a few statewide scholarship or grant programs can solve. Hopefully, leaders at the legislature, teacher preparation programs, and school districts alike will look to the experiences of teachers of color, like those highlighted in this report, for more expansive solutions.


Special Education Identification Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic

CALDER Center, June 2024

This research brief explores trends in how many students were referred to special education services during COVID-19. Using data from Washington state, the authors found that relative to prior years, there was an extreme dip in special education identification throughout the pandemic. The effects were similar across all racial & ethnic groups, and the majority of the dip is concentrated in kindergarten through grade 2. This suggests that students who might otherwise receive special education services are not getting the tailored support they need, or at the very least, experienced a significant delay in receiving those services. Furthermore, it represents another significant public policy problem to solve in the wake of pandemic school closures.

Why This Matters in Minnesota

Although this finding draws from data in Washington, a study on students in Michigan found similar results, and it’s not unreasonable to assume Minnesota followed a similar pattern. Virtually all aspects of education were seriously disrupted during the pandemic and we continue to grapple with that today, but COVID’s effect on special education students is largely left out of the public discourse. 


The State of Bipartisanship 2024: Minnesota’s 93rd Legislature 2023-2024 Biennium

Majority in the Middle, June 2024

This report by Majority in the Middle, a Minnesota organization focused on reducing partisanship in politics, analyzed several metrics of bipartisanship during the 2023 and 2024 legislative session. Using indicators like bill authors from both parties and minority party-led bills getting committee hearings, the report offers both high-level and zoomed-in pictures of dynamics at the legislature. They found that while overall bipartisanship decreased from 2023 to 2024, certain committees increased by the same metrics. Some readers might be surprised to learn that all 67 Senators have sponsored and cosponsored bills with members from the opposing party, as with all but two of the 134 members in the House.

As far as bipartisanship in education policy, the results are mixed, and no K-12 education committee is in the top three of any metric of bipartisanship used in the report. The House Education Finance committee more than doubled its hearing of Republican-led bills, but that percentage is only 9% of all bills heard, compared to 51% in Veteran and Military Affairs, the House committee with the highest proportion of minority party-led bills with a hearing. The House Education Policy committee increased its hearing of  bipartisan bills by a few percentage points, but neither Senate education committee increased its bipartisanship metrics from 2023 to 2024.  

Why This Matters in Minnesota

The 2023-2024 biennium was the first in several years in which one party had a trifecta (control of the Senate, House, and Governor’s office). That led to a huge push of legislation in 2023 and plenty of party politics being played all around. However, 2024 is an election year for all 134 seats in the House, and Democrats are not guaranteed to hold their majority in that chamber. Furthermore, with uncertain margins in the Senate, given Sen. Kelly Morrison’s resignation to run for Congress and the uncertainty of Sen. Nicole Mitchell’s fate, the partisan dynamics are more complex than a “trifecta” would have you believe. If November’s election results in a split legislature, lawmakers will have no choice but to work across the aisle, and that will certainly impact which education policies have a chance at passage. 


May 2024 Research Rundown

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