Sep 25

Why I’m Working to Expand School Counseling Services

Originally published in the Woodbury Bulletin

When I think back to my days as a student, I remember the importance and value of the school counselor – the academic guidance, the career path advice, the comfort of knowing I had somebody to just talk to. The direct services provided by a school counselor are what help students develop academically, mentally, and socially, paving the way for students to enter adulthood with peace of mind as they set out on their chosen paths.

I remember what my high school counselor meant to me. She told me to pick my dream school, pick a safe school, pick schools in between, and understand my options – advice I’ve passed along to others over the years. I know how important positive guidance is Minnesota students, which is why I’m determined to pass legislation to expand school counseling services in the upcoming session. Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 25

Gateway took ‘big step’ at Legislature

Originally published by Mike Longanecker, Woodbury Bulletin

Local lawmakers said the Gateway Corridor project picked up momentum this year at the Legislature, even though it didn’t receive the dedicated bonding money originally sought.

The east metro transit project could receive state dollars, but that will be up to the Metropolitan Council – the entity that received $15 million to be divvied up among metro transportation projects at its discretion.

Woodbury-area lawmakers had sought $5 million to fund environmental studies and preliminary engineering for the project, which would connect Woodbury with St. Paul’s Union Depot through a dedicated transitway serviced by either light rail or high-speed buses. Read the rest of this entry »

May 08

Senator Kent: Why I supported raising the minimum wage

When Governor Dayton signed the new minimum wage into law on April 14, it was the culmination of an extensive process of working toward a policy that will benefit Minnesota. It has also been an extensive process for me, as I have spent considerable time and effort speaking with constituents and business owners, as well as researching the issue to understand the impact for our state and my district. In the end, I believe this process has worked well, resulting in a policy that will continue our progress in building a strong economic future for Minnesota. Read the rest of this entry »

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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