Apr 04

Senator Kent Celebrates Victory of the Safe and Supportive Schools Act

Saint Paul, Minn. – One of the most widely-debated bills of this legislative session, the Safe and Supportive Schools Act passed the Senate with a vote of 36 to 31. Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) has championed the bill since its inception and celebrated the victory as a major step forward for Minnesota students.

“Today we made strides in ensuring the protection and well-being of children across Minnesota,” said Sen. Kent. “Too often, we’ve heard troubling stories about the bullying our kids have endured and how it was not properly addressed. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act not only addresses bullying; it seeks to prevent it and keep our kids safe.”

Sen. Kent gives thumbs up for Safe and Supportive Schools.

Before the passage of this legislation, Minnesota’s anti-bullying policy was deemed “weakest in the nation” by the U.S. Department of Education, as it contained only 37 words and did not define bullying. The Safe and Supportive Schools Act has changed that, as it defines bullying, states that all students are protected under the legislation, and encourages school districts to provide appropriate support for students dealing with bullying. Parental notification, a component of the bill that raised concern among many, was especially important to Sen. Kent, who believes that transparency and communication between parents and teachers is essential.

“As the mother of a Minnesota student, it’s reassuring to know that should an incident occur, my son will be safe and I will be notified,” Sen. Kent ended. “As a legislator, I am proud to have worked so hard toward something that will benefit kids across the state by preventing and properly addressing an issue as significant as bullying. I am so grateful for all of those who have supported this bill throughout the legislative process.”

For more information, visit www.senate.mn. Be sure to follow Sen. Susan Kent on Twitter at @SusanKentMN and to Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SusanKentMN.

 

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Apr 03

Senator Kent Hosts Twitter Town Hall, Addresses Safe and Supportive Schools Act

Sen. Kent takes to Twitter to talk about the Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

Saint Paul, Minn. – Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) hosted a Twitter Town Hall on April 2, affording Minnesotans the opportunity to ask questions and offer comments on one of the most talked about pieces of legislation this session: The Safe and Supportive Schools Act.

Sen. Kent answered constituent questions – some divisive given the bill’s controversial nature – and debunked misinformation about the legislation during the 45-minute Twitter chat, which utilized the hashtag #SafeSchoolsMN. An advocate of the bill from its earliest days and throughout the legislative process, Sen. Kent hosted the Twitter Town Hall as a means to address any misconceptions and offer her personal opinion on why the legislation is beneficial for Minnesota students.

“I think the biggest misunderstanding we’ve seen regarding the Safe and Supportive Schools Act has been that it only protects certain students who are more likely to be bullied,” said Sen. Kent. “That could not be any further from the truth. As legislators, our job is to protect ALL students. Think about it: Kids are bullied because they’re deemed “too smart,” because they’re deemed “not as smart,” because their hair is curly, because their shoes are blue. The bill explicitly states several times that it protects all students, and just because it lists certain types of students does not mean that only those students are protected. I would not support the bill if it were any other way.”

Parental notification is another area of the bill that has been widely discussed and debated. While some believe that the bill disassociates parents from incidents at their child’s school, Sen. Kent was vocal from the start about the importance of direct parental notification in the legislation. Additionally, she pointed out that while some Minnesotans have curriculum concerns – namely that the bill would mandate certain subject matter, materials, and textbooks – there is nothing in the legislation that would interfere with existing local control in this area.

“Bullying has always been a problem among school settings,” Sen. Kent ended. “The difference now is that with the advent of technology that keeps us constantly connected – even when students have left school for the day or weekend – bullying has become inescapable and amplified. We’re protecting all children from a kind of bullying that none of us adults have ever experienced because we grew up in a different time. I think it’s important to consider that times have changed, and we need to keep up with the times for the sake of our kids.”

The Safe and Supportive Schools Act will be debated on the Senate Floor today beginning at noon. For more information, visit www.senate.mn. Be sure to follow Sen. Susan Kent on Twitter at @SusanKentMN and to Like her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SusanKentMN.

 

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Mar 17

Senate discusses legislation to measure physical education efficiency

ST. PAUL, MINN. – The Senate recently referred to the Education Committee a bill that measures the quality and quantity of physical education in schools. Countless studies have shown that physical education programs in schools benefit students’ learning capacities and long-term health, which is why Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) authored the legislation. A follow-up to a 2010 law that requires all school districts include a physical education minimum standard, SF 2207 calls for the implementation of a survey to assess physical education accomplishments as a step toward potential improvements to be made based on results.

 

“We want to know how much time our kids spend being physically active through the course of a school day,” said Sen. Kent. “The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children receive between 150 and 225 minutes per week of physical education depending on grade level. We want to know how Minnesota measures up.”

 

The legislation would direct the commissioner of education to prepare a report for the legislature on K-12 students’ experience with physical education. The specific proposal asks the Department of Education to provide a summary detailing how much time kids spend in physical education and their access to recess, as well as how schools are measuring and assessing students’ fitness levels.

 

“It’s so important that we know our kids are benefiting from physical education programs in their schools,” Sen. Kent said. “Not only does an effective physical education program help a child’s health; it helps yield higher test scores and fewer disciplinary issues. It’s truly a win-win situation.”

 

For more information, visit http://www.senate.mn/. Sen. Kent welcomes your suggestions, questions, and concerns at sen.susan.kent@senate.mn.

Mar 13

Senator Kent to Hold Town Hall Meeting

State Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) will host a town hall meeting from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March. 15. The meeting will be held at the Woodbury City Council Chambers, located at 8301 Valley Creek Road, Woodbury, MN 55125.

 

The town hall meeting is an opportunity for constituents to ask questions about the ongoing legislative session and voice concerns.

“I truly enjoy Town Hall meetings because they’re a great opportunity to connect directly with Woodbury residents,” said Sen. Kent. “It’s important that we open up a dialogue so that people’s voices are heard. The most effective way I can represent my constituents is to hear them out and relay their interests and ideas to the rest of the Senate.”

 

What: Town Hall Meeting

Who: Sen. Susan Kent

When: 10 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 15

Where: Woodbury City Council Chambers

8301 Valley Creek Road, Woodbury, MN 55125

 

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Mar 10

Transportation Committee hears Sen. Kent’s school bus safety bill

ST. PAUL, MINN. – The Senate Transportation and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday heard a bill authored by Senator Susan Kent (DFL-Woodbury) and Senator Ann Rest (DFL-New Hope) that modifies student transportation requirements. SF 2252 instructs school bus drivers to do interior post-trip inspections to ensure no students remain on the bus.

The bill also states that no school carrier or district allow a driver to operate a school bus for student passenger service that the Department of Public Safety has inspected and marked “out of service” due to equipment concerns, such as brake problems. Buses used for pupil transportation must have an easily accessible seat belt cutter on board.

“Ensuring the safety of our children is the principal reason for this bill,” said Sen. Kent. “When we see our kids get onto a school bus, their safety is no longer in our hands. As parents and guardians, we should have the assurance and peace of mind that our children are protected and make it from point A to point B until they get home safely.”

Sen. Kent co-authored the bill in response to recent incidents in which young students were left on buses and discovered hours later. In one case, a three-year-old was left on a bus for four hours – a dangerous scenario given Minnesota’s extreme climate fluctuations. Should these situations arise, the bill gives prosecutors options to press charges if directors of pupil transportation are not informed.

Sen. Kent encourages constituents to contact her with any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas on any legislative topic. Sen. Kent can be reached at 651-296-4166 or at sen.susan.kent@senate.mn.

 

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