Controversial bill changes Minnesota teacher licensure requirements

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A bill to change how Minnesota licenses school teachers was discussed in two committees this week. The bill is in response to a 2016 Legislative Auditor (OLA) report that said Minnesota’s licensing process was confusing, treated teachers trained in Minnesota differently than those trained in other states, and that all licensing functions should be in one entity.

The bill sets up a framework for a new teacher licensure structure. Many of the licensure provisions are non-controversial, but one provision is troubling. It sets up a process for individuals, with no teacher training, instruction, or degree, to teach in Minnesota classrooms.

The bill also removes the MDE licensing function and places it with the Professional Educator Licensing Board. The Board would be reduced to include nine members, six teachers, two administrative members, and a school human resources director. A few troubling aspects of the board’s makeup includes a provision that no member currently serving on the Professional Educator Licensing Board can become a member of the new board. This means there will be no institutional knowledge or continuity in the board’s makeup. Finally, teachers cannot become a member of the Board if they hold a position with the teacher’s union.

The bill also dramatically changes the alternative teacher preparation program, removing requirements that a provider partners with a Minnesota higher education teacher prep program, which would allow anyone trained in an out-of-state program to apply for a Minnesota teaching license. (SF4)