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Knowledge is Power

About half of Minnesota students cannot read at grade level. That might surprise you, but it’s true. Reading is the foundation of all learning. Nothing is more important in education, and no better predictor of future success, than making sure students can read proficiently by third grade.

Over time, research and data have confirmed that children best learn to read with a systematic, structured approach focusing on the building blocks of language – phonics, syntax, and semantics. It’s called structured literacy or the Science of Reading. It allows students to develop the foundational reading skills step-by-step, starting with the basics and then moving on to more advanced skills.

This year, we are making literacy our top education goal once again. We recently introduced our literacy plan, called Reading RESET. There are three primary components to this plan:

  • We provide funding for schools that would like to replace ineffective “whole language” literacy materials with proven “Science of Reading” curriculum and instructional materials.
  • We provide funding for teacher training and professional development in the Science of Reading.
  • We provide funding for tutoring to help struggling students who have fallen behind in reading.

Don’t get me wrong; we can’t shortchange schools on funding. Recently, the legislature has approved a series of historic bipartisan education bills. In 2017, the legislature provided nearly $19 billion in total education funding. In 2019 and 2020, schools received 2% annual student funding formula increases. In 2021, schools received more than $1.1 billion in funding increases – the largest formula growth in fifteen years.

When parents and teachers work together, amazing things can happen. We’ve seen this happen firsthand. The Science of Reading and improving literacy will make a big difference for students across the state.

Met Council Needs to End

The Legislative Audit Commission released the audit conducted on the Southwest Light Rail project. The Office of the Legislative Auditor (OLA) conducted the audit after the legislature unanimously voted to put the project under review due to cost overruns and delays.

One thing is clear after the audit today: the wasteful spending and obfuscation by the Metropolitan Council during the planning and construction of Southwest Light Rail, and their slowness to comply with the OLA requests, means their time wasting our taxpayers’ dollars should come to an end. There is bipartisan agreement they failed to protect the taxpayers, and bipartisan agreement something needs to change.

I’ll be taking the next step to re-introduce legislation to end the Met Council and put oversight of these major projects where it belongs – with locally elected city, county, and legislative bodies that must meet necessary transparency and accountability measures.

Making Waves: The Possibility of Banning Plastic Water Bottles

Since 2016 bottled water has outsold soft drinks every year. Despite Americans opting for a healthy option for hydration, democrats in the House introduced legislation that would ban plastic water bottles in Minnesota.

Even if you ban the sale of plastic water bottles, you are still left with plastic bottles of soda, juice, and other sports drinks that consumers will purchase instead of water. Banning the sale of water and not other sugary beverages is a short-sighted approach that does not solve plastic pollution.

Let’s Talk

Thank you to everyone who joined me last weekend at my town hall. It was great to see so many new and familiar faces! If you missed the event but still want to connect, email me at sen.mark.koran@senate.mn, and we can set up a time to meet! I work for you.