Licensed teachers in Minnesota need your help. Like many of the other trades and professions in Minnesota, teacher’s licenses are governed by a professional standards board, comprised of a healthy majority of their peers.
For example, the Minnesota Plumbing Board has 12 members, 10 of whom are licensed plumbers. The Minnesota Board of Barber Examiners has four licensed barbers on a board of five members.
Minnesota Senate File 4 and House File 140 seek to diminish teacher and public voice on the Minnesota Board of Teaching. The current board has 11 members: six licensed classroom teachers, one higher-ed member, one public member, two school board members and one administrator. Under the proposed bills, administrative voice would increase from one member to four members and school board/public voice will be cut from three to one. There would be no higher ed rep, and the six teachers would not even have to hold Minnesota license.
In addition, law will specify categories that must be represented, instead of this choice being made by the Governor. The bills are moving targets, so what we read today may change in the coming days.
In addition, those who currently serve on the board, and have been duly appointed by Governor Dayton, will be dismissed and will not be allowed to reapply for four years. An entirely new board will face challenging issues, with no mentors to lead the way. The need for institutional memory on such a board is high.
For example, members of the board are responsible for reviewing and approving special permission applications, such as Career and Technical Education. The term used for such an applicant is “Non-Licensed Community Expert” (NLCE). Evaluating the data in these applications requires training from mentors on the board. Approval of a NLCE application means the requesting district has not been successful in a diligent search for a licensed teacher. The bills referenced would allow a NLCE to teach for up to eight years without working toward licensure. This process should be held to a standard, which is also at risk in the language of these bills.
Our students deserve to have licensed professionals as their teachers, whenever possible. Current members of the Minnesota Board of Teaching are volunteers with a common foundation, that of being experienced, Minnesota licensed teachers. We also have diverse backgrounds, including a higher education member from one of our teacher preparatory programs, which increases the teacher voice on this board. The current Board of Teaching has worked toward continuous improvement of the policies governing licensure of the teachers working with Minnesota’s students. We have work that is in process, and would like the opportunity to see these tasks completed.
Please support public education and Minnesota's students and licensed teachers by writing to Governor Dayton and asking for the professional standards board for licensed teachers to be fairly governed by licensed Minnesota educators, and to maintain our state standard of having highly-qualified licensed teachers in every classroom. Write to Governor Mark Dayton, 116 Veterans Service Building, 20 W 12th Street, St. Paul, MN 55155 or via his website. You can also connect with Gov. Dayton on Facebook and Twitter.