I oppose MN HF 1329; it’s not about more Teachers of Color – the focus should be on the K-12 scholars!

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Below is my correspondence with Kaohly Her, MNState Representative, District 64A – St. Paul Vice Chair of Rules and Legislative Administration Committee

Dear Representative Her,

A Bad bill for future MN teachers. This bill moves great people out of the classroom!

As your constituent, I’m writing today to urge you to oppose HF 1329. This bill would strip school leaders of flexibility to hire the best educators, push many teachers of color and indigenous teachers out of the classroom, and ultimately force Minnesota students to lose out on great teachers. 

Minnesota’s previous teacher licensure system was broken, pushing out experienced, effective educators through bureaucratic, confusing, and arbitrary rules. After years of compromise and hard work, state policymakers overhauled this broken system to ensure that Minnesota students never again lose a great teacher due to needless licensure barriers. The state’s new, straightforward tiered teacher licensure system respects school leaders and experienced teachers as professionals, and considers the many skills, experiences, and pathways that can make a teacher great. 

This new tiered system just went into effect in the fall of 2018, and is already benefitting many teachers, schools, and, most important, students. Yet, HF 1329 would take us back to the broken system it replaced. It would make it harder for schools to hire educators with unique backgrounds, out-of-state teaching experience, and specific content knowledge, and also make it harder for those educators to stay in the classroom, even after years of successful teaching. Perhaps most egregious, this legislation would have a disproportionate impact on teachers of color, who are much more highly represented in Tiers 1 and 2. 

Instead of re-erecting licensure barriers for educators, we need to focus on better supporting and retaining them. Please oppose HF 1329 and instead work to improve on-the-job supports and equitable professional development opportunities for teachers so that they can grow professionally and have the greatest possible impact on Minnesota students.

State representatives response:

Dear Donald,

Thank you for contacting me about legislation related to K-12 teacher licensing. I appreciated your taking the time to be in touch about this issue.

As you know, after considerable debate, the 2017 Legislature created a new tiered teacher licensure system. The tiered system provided four options (tiers) for licensure for individuals hoping to become a teacher in Minnesota and did away with the special permissions and non-licensed community experts; going forward, all teachers will have to have licenses. The changes were prompted in part by concerns that schools and administrators were relying too heavily on non-licensed personnel as a way to employ less expensive staff. 

The teacher licensing issue is generating discussion and debate again this session. On March 4, the House Education Policy Committee (on which I serve) discussed the bill you referenced, HF 1329. Provisions from this bill were subsequently folded into the Education Policy Omnibus Bill, HF 1711, which was unveiled in the committee on March 11. 

With regard to Tier 1 licenses, the omnibus bill in its current form would allow one renewal, along with subsequent renewals if the employing school district can show good cause. The bill would also allow a teacher with a Tier 1. license to be included in the teachers’ bargaining unit. In addition, it allows only two renewals of a Tier 2 license; removes the pathway to a Tier 2. license for individuals with a content-area master’s degree; and removes the coursework requirement for candidates for a Tier 2 license. The bill also contains various changes related to Tier 3 and Tier 4 licenses.

Proponents view the proposed changes as important to ensuring that teachers receive sufficient preparation prior to receiving a teaching license that can be renewed indefinitely. On the other hand, opponents testified with concerns similar to those you expressed, arguing that it would exacerbate current teacher shortages and leave Minnesota with a less diverse teaching force. 

As the session moves forward, I will continue to discuss issues around teacher licensure with colleagues and constituents, and I will certainly keep your comments in mind as I do so. Again, thank you for bringing your concerns to my attention. Please keep in touch; I welcome your feedback and input.

Kaohly Her

Kaohly HerState Representative, District 64A – St. PaulVice Chair, Rules and Legislative Administration CommitteeAddress: 100 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Saint Paul, MN 55155

Email: rep.kaohly.her@house.mn

Phone: (651) 296-8799Social Media: FB | Twitter @kaohlyvangher
Website: www.house.mn/64a

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