State House rejects conservative education policy distraction

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The Minnesota State House of Representatives recently rejected a controversial alternative state alternative teaching licensure proposal on a 68-65 vote, declining to attach the measure to the larger state education bill.

Way to go, Members.

I’m quite willing to contemplate non-traditional routes to teaching licensure but this proposal – formalizing the Teach for America teacher training model which puts college graduates with a high GPA through a quick training program – isn’t one of them. Minnesota has well-established post-undergraduate intensive licensure programs, requiring 15 months, for college grads who’ve decided to work in teaching. Lowering the qualifications bar just isn’t going to improve student education.

But, I was most struck but State Representative Tom Anzelc’s observation. “You can reform. You can tinker. You can create alternative pathways all you want. But you need to fund the schools. We starved the schools of Minnesota for 20 years. It’s no wonder we have an achievement gap.”

That nails the issue on the head.

Conservative public policymakers’ insistence on alternative teaching licensure is simply one more distraction. They’re hoping that Minnesota won’t notice school underfunding and the increasingly deleterious impact that it’s having on Minnesota’s future options.

Conservatives are notoriously skilled at creating solutions for nonexistent problems just to disguise their true priorities. They’re interested in tearing down public schools, not building educational quality or capacity.

Minnesota needs strong, high quality schools to prepare Minnesota’s students for the great challenges facing Minnesota’s families. We don’t need more conservative distraction.