To day on the MPR News Update: Somali students say they don't feel safe at South High School in Minneapolis, legislators are getting their first look at the governor's proposed public school funding bill, educators are asking the Legislature to reconsider last year's law on teacher testing, and more.
SOMALI STUDENTS FEAR FOR SAFETY: Some Somali students say not enough is being done to ease racial tension at South High School in Minneapolis, which just last week was the site of a brawl involving hundreds of students. Minneapolis school district officials are still investigating the incident, which sent three students and a staff member to the hospital with minor injuries. District officials are also looking into the actions of school staff and police officers as part of the investigation.
SCHOOL SPENDING: State lawmakers have begun scrutinizing Gov. Mark Dayton's spending plan for public education, the first piece of his budget proposal to be introduced in bill form. It calls for more than $344 million proposed in new spending for public schools. In related news, a U.S. Education Department commission is recommending pre-kindergarten programs for every poor student across the country within 10 years.
TEACHER TESTING: Teachers and school administrators across Minnesota are asking lawmakers to rethink a law they passed last year that was aimed at producing higher-quality teachers. The law requires teacher candidates to pass theMinnesota Teacher Licensure Exam before they can get a teacher's license. The test includes reading, math and writing sections.
ELLISON IN SOMALIA: Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison visited Somalia's once war-torn capital city of Mogadishu on Tuesday, the first visit in years by a member of Congress to what until recently was considered one of the world's most dangerous cities. "The United States just recognized the government after 22 years," Ellison told MPR this morning by phone. "The people feel like the future is bright."
MONEY FOR HOMELESS YOUTH: A coalition of community and faith-based groups is asking the state Legislature to help fight youth homelessness, backing a bill that would provide $8 million to help homeless youth across Minnesota. The measure passed the Early Childhood and Youth Development Policy Committee in the Minnesota on Tuesday, and a similar bill is pending in the Senate.
DRUGS AND FISH: Traces of chemicals in Minnesota lakes might be having a big effect on some fish populations. Monitoring of lakes and rivers across the state found traces of pharmaceuticals and estrogen in the water, and two new studies by Minnesota researchers show those chemicals can reduce fish survival.
FRACK SAND: The dispute over frac sand mining shifted from cities and towns in southeastern Minnesota to the hallways of the State Capitol Tuesday. Opponents of the new mining process packed a legislative hearing to urge Gov. Mark Dayton and state lawmakers to regulate the sand mining industry. But industry officials say such regulations will limit job growth and create unnecessary burdens on them.
OVERDOSING: Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year across the United States, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines. The news comes after we reported that in 2012, Minnesota prosecutors charged more dealers for murder in overdose cases than at any time in the last decade.
GAMBLING: The rollout of electronic bingo has been delayed again. It could be March before the games are ready for approval. They are part of the financing package for a new Vikings stadium. E-pull tab revenues have been falling short, and backers say bingo could help. But, gambling control board director Tom Barrett says suppliers aren't yet meeting regulatory requirements. Suppliers say the state's approval process has delayed the start of the games.
ORCHESTRAL MANEUVERS: If ever there was a day you needed a scorecard to follow the wrinkles of the Twin Cities two orchestral conflicts, Tuesday was that day. Early on came news that the American Federation of Musicians has filed an unfair labor practices complaint against the Saint Paul Chamber Society, the formal name given to SPCO management.
SATISFIED MINNEAPOLITANS: And finally today, a survey shows Minneapolis residents are not as satisfied with their police, parks, schools and snow plowing as residents of some other cities. One area of concern: snow plowing. The survey, conducted in the fall, found that 80 percent of Minneapolis residents were satisfied with how the city cleared its streets, but that the measure fell below a national benchmark.