Teaching clarifications needed

Published 5:25 pm Saturday, November 7, 2015

A local representative is frustrated at delays in adopting new licensure rules for out-of-state and alternative program educators.

“Legislators have come together on a bipartisan basis to reform our licensure laws and to try to make it easier to put great teachers in the classroom,” said District 27A Rep. Peggy Bennett, R-Albert Lea, in a press release following Thursday’s House Education Finance and Education Innovation Policy Committee’s joint legislative hearing on the matter. “It’s disappointing that delays by the Board of Teaching will have an impact on kids in the classroom.”

Under the statute changes, the Minnesota Board of Teaching is required by Jan. 1 to clarify the process to facilitate the licensure of out-of-state-educators or those trained in alternative preparation programs.

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According to Bennett, clarification is needed on whether teachers’ qualifying classwork or classes taken in other states can help with licensing in Minnesota, among other clarifications. She said work is needed to get more teachers into the profession in Minnesota because the teacher shortage is affecting students. Qualified, out-of-state teachers testified they were having a hard time understanding what they needed to do to meet qualifications at the hearing.

According to Bennett, because of the board’s inaction and lack of urgency, the board has made it clear it doesn’t expect to make the mandated deadline.

“With many rural school districts — and even now some districts in the metro area — facing a teacher shortage, we need the teacher licensure process streamlined as soon as possible,” Bennett said. “Delays by adults only hurt the kids we’re trying to help.”

The Board of Teaching is in the midst of a lawsuit from teaching candidates who alleged they were unnecessarily denied licenses that should have been granted under state law.

In 2013, the Legislature established a 20-member Teacher Licensure Advisory Task Force to make recommendations to the Board of Teaching, the commissioner of education and the education committees of the Legislature on requirements for teacher applicants.