Dear Members of the Omnibus Education Finance Conference Committee:
The Minnesota Catholic Conference, the public policy voice for the Catholic Church in Minnesota, writes to thank you for including language, in both HF 2400 and SF7, to expand the definition of “textbook” to include a teacher’s edition, teacher’s guide, or other materials that a pupil uses when the teacher’s edition, teacher’s guide, or other teacher materials are packaged with textbooks for student use. This was an oversight from last biennium, and we appreciate your addressing it this session.
We would also ask that you consider including a very important provision dealing with mental health counseling for our youngest learners (originally contained in Senator Eichorn’s SF 580). This provision would allow tens of thousands of nonpublic K-6 students to be eligible to receive mental health services like their public-school counterparts. These students are no less vulnerable than their public-school peers to the challenges in life that can lead them to feelings of loneliness, despair, and hopelessness.
While there is a fiscal cost, adding this provision would amount to roughly 2/100ths of one percent of the current overall education budget for our state. This seems like a very small price tag to help kids who are struggling with mental health and emotional problems.
Finally, we would ask that you strongly oppose the inclusion of the new comprehensive sex education mandate language contained in HF 2400. This provision would encourage schools to invite outside groups into the classroom that promote abortion and harmful sexual behaviors for children as young as kindergarteners.
The language contained in HF 2400 would also wrongfully sexualize children at a young age by teaching sex acts, relationships, practices, and gender identity ideologies that are contrary to the dignity of the human person. Sexuality is extremely personal and should be discussed in the atmosphere of trust provided by a family setting, not taught by a special interest group.
Thank you for your consideration on these matters and for your service to the state of Minnesota.
Shawn M. Peterson
Associate Director for Public Policy