Legislature passes alternative pathways to teacher licensure


There’s one stop left before alternative pathways to teacher licensure becomes law.

The House passed HF63/ SF40* 81-50 after the Senate approved it 46-19 a few hours earlier. Gov. Mark Dayton is expected to sign the bill into law.

“If there’s one message from this bill it is this: This bill raises standards. The standards for alternatively licensed teachers will be higher than the standards that apply to traditionally licensed teachers,” said Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), who sponsors the bill with Sen. Gen Olson (R-Minnetrista).

For example, he said, teachers in alternative licensure programs must have a 3.0 or higher grade point average; pass basic reading, writing and math skills exams; and obtain qualifying scores on subject area content exams and performance assessments.

The bill grants the Board of Teaching authority to rescind an alternative teacher preparation program that fails to meet those or other requirements laid out in the bill. Teachers with out-of-state licensure from accredited programs would also have a streamlined route to Minnesota licensure.

Some DFL members said they are concerned the measure doesn’t stipulate enough quality assurances.

“I really think it’s a watering down,” said Rep. Lyndon Carlson Sr. (DFL-Crystal), who said aspiring teachers need longer supervised student teaching time.

Rep. Mindy Greiling (DFL-Roseville) likes Teach for America, whose teachers would be licensed under the bill, but worries other alternative licensure programs wouldn’t have the same high standards.

“This is a way too open bill,” she said.

In a departure from House custom, Garofalo asked Rep. Carlos Mariani (DFL-St. Paul), who has sponsored similar bills in recent years, to offer closing remarks.

Mariani praised Minnesota teachers and schools overall, but said the bill will help address persistent problems in some high-need situations. He cautioned there is much more work to be done, including looking at tenure issues.

 “If you think this discussion is difficult, wait ’til we tackle that discussion,” he said.