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Lawmakers hear grant proposal to fund 400 future teachers

How can Minnesota’s K-12 schools best recruit and retain teachers, especially teachers of color?

One potential answer is HF1138 that would institute a teacher residency grant pilot program.

“This is important because we know that, in Minnesota, nearly a third of teachers leave the profession within their first five years of teaching,” said Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura (DFL-Mpls), the bill sponsor.

“As kind of an antidote to that, a residency can set teachers up for success, by providing them with a mentor teacher, by providing them with financial support.”

On Wednesday, the House Education Finance Committee laid over the grant request, as amended, for possible inclusion in an omnibus bill.

Sencer-Mura’s bill would repeal the existing teacher residency program statute and establish a new pilot program. It would appropriate $20 million in the coming biennium to the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, which would be tasked with distributing the grant money to teacher preparation providers to furnish financial support for teacher candidates.

The bill aims to subsidize the training of 400 teacher candidates.

Grantees would receive $3,000 to lessen the cost of tuition and $40,000 to cover living expenses while in training. Mentor teachers who work with the grantees would receive a stipend totaling $3,500, as well.

The bill would set forth several eligibility requirements, notably prioritizing teacher preparation programs that are training higher percentages of candidates of color.

Susan Hang, recruitment and retention manager with Osseo Area schools, notes her district consists of approximately 60% students of color – but just 9% of educators are teachers of color. She believes the bill will help achieve the long-desired goal of increasing teacher diversity in her district.

Senah Yeboah-Sampong participates in a residency program with the St. Paul Public Schools similar to what is outlined by the bill. He is now on the cusp of becoming a licensed special education teacher.

“If I didn’t have this, it would still just be a dream,” he said.

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