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House Democrats Hear Bill That Lowers Teacher Licensing Standards and Creates Barriers for Out-of-State Teachers, Teachers with Non-Traditional Backgrounds, and Teachers of Color

Monday, March 4, 2019

ST. PAUL, MN—Minnesota House Democrats heard legislation today that significantly undermines tier 1 and tier 2 teaching licenses—curtailing an important pathway to licensure for out-of-state teachers, teachers with non-traditional backgrounds and teachers of color. Nearly a quarter of licenses for teachers of color fall under special permissions or tiers 1 and 2. If this legislation were to become law, hundreds of teachers could lose their jobs.

“The tiered system enacted last session was a major bipartisan reform that was years in the making. This new system has opened doors of opportunity for out-of-state educators, teachers of color, and technical educators,” said Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton. “The legislation being pushed by House Democrats will roll back these reforms and only serve to make the teacher shortages facing our schools worse. Schools should have the flexibility to make staffing decisions that best fit their school districts so that students have the most effective teachers in the classroom, regardless of their background or where they live.”

In addition to making it more difficult for school districts to fill teaching vacancies, House File 1329 would lower licensing standards and reward ineffective or low-performing teachers by giving them access to a five-year teaching license.

“Teacher training plays an important role in preparing someone to be an educator,” said Rep. Erickson. “However, research shows that students perform better with effective teachers. This ill-conceived bill would do the opposite by rewarding ineffective educators with licenses at a time when our students need proven and effective teachers to help ensure that they receive the world-class education they deserve.

In 2017, following a critical report by the Office of Legislative Auditor, and following recommendations by a legislative study group on teacher licensing, the Legislature, with Governor Dayton’s signature, enacted a new tiered licensing system, and consolidated teacher licensing responsibilities and duties within a new Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB).

House File 1329 was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

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