FLAS move to full in-person learning at all levels

The Forest Lake Area School Board was informed of a new amendment to eliminate wording within the current state constitution in order to create more equitable learning in Minnesota public schools during its meeting on March 18. 

The presentation on the amendment was given by Alene Tchourumoff, the senior vice president of community development and engagement from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. 

The current education clause in the Minnesota Constitution discusses a uniform system of public schools. This calls for public schools to remain the same across the board in Minnesota. However, the language and system do not create an equitable learning environment for all Minnesota students, according to Tchourumoff. 

Since January 2020, the Minneapolis Federal Reserve has been making an effort to get the language that is currently in the state’s constitution changed, eliminating the current guarantee of free public education and replacing it with language that would make it a fundamental right to have access to quality schools according to other metrics.

“That was put in really deliberately to establish education as a civil right for all children in Minnesota,” Tchourumoff said. “It was done so that black kids, brown kids, indigenous kids, kids with disabilities, poor white children, wealthy children, rural, [or] urban, wherever you are in the state — all children have a right to quality education.” 

The proposed amendment defines quality education as “fully prepares them with the skills necessary for participation in the economy, our democracy, and society, as measured against uniform achievement standards set forth by the state.” 

While the new amendment is looking to create different ways of having kids be successful in school and pass, it is not looking at making passing easier for a student based on the color of their skin or their upbringing. What it is trying to do, however, is step away from a one-size-fits-all form of passing. 

Lastly, the new amendment is looking to make education a paramount duty of the state. This shifts responsibility for creating quality education from being solely on the Legislature to making it a responsibility of the state’s executive and judicial branches as well. 

Board member Kate Luthner asked how the decision for what is “quality” education is made, since there would be no standard or uniform system for determining that. 

“I don’t see any starting of a parameter of what the goal is,” Luthner said. “It’s an altruistic word, and I appreciate it, but it’s very hard to quantify.” 

Tchourumoff responded by acknowledging that the specific standards by which quality would be judged does need to be defined. However, the new standards would still be raised from those that are set today, which she believes are “merely adequate.” 

The amendment is being proposed to the state, and the Minneapolis Federal Reserve is making efforts to have it passed.

Back to in-person

For the first time since last March, students have returned to a full in-person learning model at both the primary and secondary level within the Forest Lake Area School District. 

As of Monday, March 22, all students who have not opted to participate in full-distance learning have returned to the classroom in an in-person model. 

The district made the decision to move secondary learners back to full in-person learning in February as COVID-19 case counts have continued to drop and began to be lower than they were at the start of the school year. 

“For the first time in 12 months we have all of our students back in our hallways and in our classrooms,” Massey said. 

The district has continued to see more staff be vaccinated, with almost all of the district’s staff given opportunity to enter the state vaccination system.

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