This past Tuesday, the Education committee in the Minnesota Senate passed an alternative Teacher licensure bill. I voted against that bill.
At a time when discussions have focused on increased rigor, teacher quality, and closing the achievement gap, fast tracking teacher licensure doesn’t see make sense. Senate File 2757 would allow person with a BA who has passed reading, writing, and math exams and a 5 week preparation course to be in charge of a classroom.
How can an individual, who has not adequately demonstrated proven success in an actual classroom setting experience, do a better job in closing the achievement gap? Hundreds of laid off teachers and recent college graduates from 4 year teacher preparation programs are already looking for work. There are sufficient high quality experienced teachers for most subjects.
The current system allows for flexibility. There are certain organizations such as “Teach for America” that already have programs in place in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Brooklyn Center having been granted waivers by the Board of Teaching. That program could continue.
Minnesota has long been a leader in quality education. We consistently lead the nation in ACT scores and high school graduation rates. Some argue that an alternative teacher licensure option in Minnesota will increase our chance for success in the Federal “Race to the Top” initiative. Federal oversight, (think No Child Left Behind) should not be the carrot for teacher quality in this state. Let’s do all we can to ensure that our current 70,000 educators are the best they can be.