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Spotlight on teachers

Published (1/7/2011)
By Kris Berggren
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Teacher training, licensure and evaluation are among the priorities House Education Reform Committee members, who include seven former or retired teachers, enumerated Jan. 6.

This should come as no surprise to those who followed last session’s contentious debate about alternative teacher licensure.

Members’ priorities also include strengthening early childhood education, helping school boards function and providing equal educational opportunities for children throughout the state.

“It’s not only a moral imperative, but if we want a strong business climate, we need all our children to succeed,” said Rep. Jim Davnie (DFL-Mpls).

“I do believe that education is the key to future financial independence,” said Rep. Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury).

Chairwoman Rep. Sondra Erickson (R-Princeton) offered the model of a three-legged stool to describe her approach to the committee’s work. “Absolutely, students are first,” she said. Supporting teachers and empowering parents are the other two legs.

Some of the questions members should put to themselves when offering ideas, suggested Erickson, include: “Will it improve teaching? Will it raise the standard or the caliber of teacher in our classroom? When it comes to our children, will it increase learning? Will it prepare them to be responsible citizens? Will it empower parents? Does it promote local control?”

Lawmakers also seek to draw the best and brightest prospective teachers into the profession.

“My focus is how to make the job of teaching more attractive,” said Rep. John Benson (DFL-Minnetonka).

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