While the omnibus E-12 education policy bill contains dozens of provisions, changes to the teacher licensure system took center stage during the House Education Policy Committee hearing Monday.
The bill was amended Monday and tabled. Additional testimony is scheduled Tuesday, with amendments expected to be offered Wednesday and action taken on the bill Thursday.
Much of Monday’s testimony and member questions concentrated on proposed changes to the teacher licensure system.
Originating from HF1329, sponsored by Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL-New Brighton), the changes would limit the renewal of tier 1 and 2 licenses, aiming to encourage educators to obtain more advanced licenses. It would also require teachers to engage in educator preparation and mentoring programs.
“There is a place for tier 1 and 2 licenses in Minnesota’s education system, but they should be a starting point in educators’ careers. Not the end point,” said David Aron, general counsel at Education Minnesota.
Aron, who pursued a nontraditional teacher licensure pathway, said the proposed changes wouldn’t prohibit a path like the one he took, but would close “a major loophole” in current law that would have allowed him to receive a renewable license without completing any formal training program.
“Completing teacher preparation did more than anything else to mitigate the isolation and self-doubt that can be so crippling and overwhelming for new teachers,” he said. “It also made me a more effective teacher.”
Opponents say modifying the newly reformed licensing system is premature, would exacerbate the state’s teacher shortage and create uncertainty for current tier 1 and 2 educators.
“We do believe that the current language as written will impact schools’ and districts’ ability to recruit educators,” said Daniel Sellers, executive director of EdAllies.
The bill would prohibit a student from receiving ongoing instruction from a tier 1 or 2 teacher. Sellers says this puts districts in a difficult position, as many lower tiered educators often teach technical, vocational or specialized courses, and it’s not unusual for a student to have them as a teacher more than one consecutive year.
“We’re also stripping school districts of some of the flexibility and local control that they have,” he said.
Other notable provisions within the bill would:
The following are selected bills that have been incorporated in part or in whole into the omnibus E-12 education policy bill: