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Education finance panel updated on teacher relief programs

Members of the House Education Finance Committee received updates from a number education organizations during its Feb. 22 meeting. Photo by Paul Battaglia

Combating Minnesota’s teacher shortage, while recruiting and retaining more teachers of color, has been a focus of lawmakers for the last several sessions.

To kick off its first meeting of the 2018 Legislative Session, the House Education Finance Committee took stock of 10 programs that have received appropriations over the past few years.

Presenters from the Office of Higher Education, Minnesota Department of Education and Lakes Country Cooperative provided top-level details on their respective programs, including the amount of one-time funding received, if there is any additional ongoing funding, a brief description of what the program does and some preliminary data.

They said several programs are still in the implementation phase, and outcome data isn’t available at this time. However presenters noted anecdotal evidence on how the programs are performing so far, and plan to follow-up with data when available.

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie), the committee’s chair, told members she was interested in looking at the shortage of teacher licensure, and also encouraging more diversity in the teaching pool.

Committee members had several follow-up questions regarding outcome data ranging from what subject areas teachers were most commonly pursuing, to questions about the number of applicants for a given program.

Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) asked if student teachers who have received grants from the Minnesota Teacher Candidate Grant Program followed through and received licensure upon completion of their programs.

“We don’t have that data right now,” said Megan FitzGibbon, state financial aid manager. “I’m assuming we’ll do some kind of follow-up for our report that we’ll have for the next legislative session, that we’ll have some outcome data where the student teachers are now.”  

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