Teachers’ union wins as legislature limits alternative pathways for educators to enter the classroom

Licensure barriers that will prevent educators from entering the classroom through alternative pathways will go into effect July 2024. This change in teacher licensing rules is one of many included in the legislature’s recent education omnibus bill that risks taking education backward.

Minnesota revamped its teacher licensing system in 2017, streamlining the overly confusing, complex, and broken licensing process and creating different pathways for educators to enter the profession in a bid to attract out-of-state educators and help address the state’s teacher shortage. Since then, it has helped teachers of color, teachers in speciality areas, and teachers in hard-to-fill subject areas enter the classroom outside a traditional education program.

It should have been left alone.

Not surprising, Education Minnesota — the state’s teachers’ union — is supportive of the licensing change. The union has fought to repeal most the reformed system ever since it went into effect, as it allows educators to enter the classroom using alternative paths outside of traditional colleges of education — colleges that the teachers’ union represents.

Now, there are fewer pathways for community experts, mid-career professionals transitioning into teaching and newer teachers to advance toward full licensure, writes the Star Tribune Editorial Board. Only educators who have completed a state-approved prep program, are currently enrolled in one, or have a master’s degree in their specified content area can move from a Tier 1 license to a Tier 2. Previously, educators who hadn’t gone through a teacher prep program were eligible if they had completed two of the following:

  • at least eight upper division or graduate-level credits in the relevant content area;
  • field-specific methods of training;
  • at least 2 years of teaching experience in a similar content area in any state;
  • a passing score on pedagogy and content exams.

Nearly 800 current educators were licensed using one of the eliminated pathways.

As the Star Tribune Editorial Board concludes: Lawmakers should reconsider these changes in 2024.