ST. PAUL – With thousands of Minnesota students still in remote learning, House Republicans on Thursday moved to take urgent action on legislation providing more local control over school-related decisions and removing the governor’s ability to unilaterally keep them closed.
State Rep. Dean Urdahl, R-Acton Township, supported the plan and said many students and families continue suffering detrimental impacts of distance learning as it takes a toll on academic achievement, mental health, and more.
“We are sacrificing learning to fight a pandemic,” Urdahl said. “Students, reports show, have been learning at a 60-percent level during the last year. The prospect of creating another Lost Generation should be of great concern to us, with today's students losing knowledge, interaction, companionship, health, and maybe a steady future.”
While many area schools have returned full time, others around the state remain in part-time or full-time distance learning. Urdahl said science and data show we can safely get our students back in the classroom. He noted President Joe Biden’s CDC director has said multiple times that we could safely return to in-person learning before all teachers are vaccinated.
“As a former teacher of 35 years, I understand how crucial personal interaction and the development of relationships are to education,” Urdahl said. “Let’s trust our local school boards, administrators, parents, and teachers to work collaboratively and make decisions that are in their own best interests so we can better serve our children.”
The House Republicans’ proposal to act on the bill (H.F. 1051) Thursday ultimately failed on a party-line vote, with House Democrats blocking the effort and voting in favor of allowing the governor to keep his school-closing authority.