As a newer member of the MASA delegation participating on the AASA governing board, I am working hard to understand the system and represent our state on this board. This past summer we had the opportunity to meet as Region 3 Representatives, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, and discuss our current state of affairs. It was clear that our struggles are identical to those in our peer states. All of these educational leaders were working on COVID-19 safety measures, funding allocations, staffing shortages, as well as community issues that spill into school like Critical Race Theory perspectives and statutory oversight. This was both disheartening and comforting. There is no place where things are considerably easier, but also these things aren’t just happening here.
With these challenges, we tried to align our legislative efforts to support school districts across the nation. Several topics that came up are currently showing signs of progress at the capital including infrastructure support that may impact public schools. We had the chance to share how our current state funding model makes it difficult for smaller districts to address aging facilities. We also shared the need for broadband connectivity across the country. These were two of many areas where we could provide the Minnesota perspective.
Following the July meeting there have been dozens of opportunities to participate in national news media interviews on these topics. I have taken a few of these to give perspective to staffing challenges that have surfaced during the pandemic as well as the need to attract and retain teachers in literally every subject area. There have also been email blasts that encourage all of us to reach out to our elected officials and share our stories. I encourage all of us to take a few minutes when it is relevant to share our stories.
Moving forward, I will continue to connect with our legislative advocacy committee to gather insight that can be shared with the AASA governing board in February and the National Conference on Education in February.