Data, research and common sense tell us that teachers are a key ingredient to school success. That’s why we are coming together to ensure that all well-trained, qualified and passionate teachers have a pathway to teach in Minnesota.
Administrators across our state should have the flexibility to recruit and hire educators that best meet the unique needs of their schools and students. Teachers who are licensed in other states and have the skills and commitment to lead students to academic achievement should be allowed to bring their talents to our classrooms.
Unfortunately, current laws and regulations enact barriers that artificially constrict our state’s pipeline of diverse and talented teachers.
Minnesota makes it incredibly challenging for experienced teachers to move to the state, even when local schools identify them as the best candidate. From urban districts to communities in Greater Minnesota, we hear stories of schools facing shortages of qualified teacher applicants, but due to antiquated policies qualified and eager out-of-state candidates are turned away.
In 2011, legislation was passed which required the Board of Teaching (BoT) to streamline the process for licensing out-of-state teachers and recognize a teacher’s past classroom performance. Nearly four years later, the BoT has yet to take sufficient action. Experienced educators from around the country continue to face a lengthy, expensive and at times incomprehensible path to their Minnesota teaching license. Meanwhile, the schools attempting to hire them are left in limbo.
The BoT and the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) have denied, delayed or otherwise encumbered many applicants without providing concrete guidance or clear next steps, short of recommending that experienced educators enroll in an often redundant Minnesota teacher preparation program.
The stories we’ve heard are confounding:
•A math teacher with ten years of classroom teaching in Pennsylvania, New York and Texas was told she needed to spend thousands of dollars on additional teacher preparation coursework in order to be licensed in Minnesota.
•An elementary teacher with a master’s degree in education and four years of professional teaching experience in Missouri was told she needed more than 30 additional credits and to student teach in a Minnesota classroom in order to receive her license.
•Two teachers who began teaching more than a decade ago participated in the same California graduate teacher preparation program, received master's degrees in Education and the same California teaching licenses. Both applied for the same licenses in Minnesota, but the teacher with more experience was not granted one of the licenses the other received.
We should be actively recruiting experienced, talented and motivated educators, not turning them away.
Furthermore, creating a clear pathway for out-of-state teachers is a critical step to increase Minnesota’s teacher diversity. Currently, 96 percent of our state’s teachers are white. Allowing school administrators to recruit talent from other states will open the door to teachers of color from historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, Hispanic-serving institutes, and alternative certification programs with proven track records of success.
We ask the BoT, MDE and our elected officials to take leadership on this issue by:
•Establishing streamlined procedures and pathways for granting full Minnesota teaching licenses to teacher candidates initially licensed in other states;
•Creating transparent and straightforward guidelines and requirements for Minnesota licensure;
•Creating transparent and straightforward guidelines for approval of non-licensed community experts;
•Recognizing previous classroom experience and professional credentials when making licensure decisions;
•Issuing full Minnesota teaching licenses to candidates who satisfy the requirements of Minn. Stat. § 122A.23, Subd. 2; and,
•Providing clear explanations to applicants who are denied, including details on additional criteria needed and the right to appeal BoT decisions.
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