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Yes vote on alternative licensure

Published (2/11/2011)
By Kris Berggren
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Alternative pathways to teacher licensure moved a step closer to becoming law Feb. 10, when the House passed HF63/ SF40* 72-59.

The bill’s sponsor, House Education Finance Committee Chairman Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), successfully offered an amendment to substitute the House language for the Senate version. A conference committee is expected to work out the differences between the bills.

Garofalo said he felt “proud” of the bipartisan recognition that the education system isn’t working and must evolve, and “a little sorrow and sadness that alternative licensure is considered controversial. There is a nationwide, bipartisan consensus that alternative licensure works.”

That controversy was reflected in various amendments offered by members of both parties sparking debate about details of how the alternative licensure would take shape; including whether such pathways must be in partnership with a college or university or would be targeted to certain shortage areas. The bill would streamline a process for certain teachers trained out of state to become licensed in Minnesota.

Several DFL members objected to that provision, saying it doesn’t do enough to assure quality of their preparation by Minnesota standards.

“I think is going to be one of the most important pieces of legislation we will have before us this year. I hope we take the time to really look at it and evaluate the product that is in the final bill,” said Rep. John Ward (DFL-Brainerd).

Rep. Jenifer Loon (R-Eden Prairie) said, “I am very encouraged by the tone of these conversations. I think we are moving in a direction that is going to be very good for Minnesota’s children.”

The measure would make it easier for schools to employ teachers without traditional education training who meet other criteria. Candidate requirements include a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 grade point average, unless waived by the Board of Teaching; passing three tests including basic skills, pedagogy and content; participation in at least 200 hours of training; and ongoing professional development and supervision, including by a school site team.

Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul) sponsored a different alternative pathway bill, but said he would vote for Garofalo’s bill.

“I’m actually very encouraged because I think we are, like 90 percent there,” he said.

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