With Republicans now officially in control of the Minnesota Legislature, a proposal that would make it easier to license teachers who lack education degrees is likely to pass, and some say a bill could drop during the second week of session.
Republicans rallied hard around alternative teacher licensure at the Capitol during the 2010 session, but were trumped by a DFL-controlled Legislature and Education Minnesota, the state’s largest teacher’s union, which opposed the measure. The issue also stalled as it became tangled up in the nation-wide competition for federal dollars through the Race to the Top program.
This year, chatter around the Capitol points to an alt-licensure proposal as early as next Tuesday, Daniel Sellers, executive director of the Twin Cities Teach for America chapter, said. GOP Rep. Pat Garofalo, head of the House Education Finance Committee, said he already has a bill in the works, and House Education Reform Committee head, Rep. Sondra Erickson, said an alternative licensure bill is coming “very soon.” Both committees had initial hearings this week.
There is little doubt among Capitol watchers than an alternative licensure bill will pass through the newly Republican-controlled Legislature. The question remains, however, whether Gov. Mark Dayton will be open to the proposal.
Education Minnesota initially endorsed House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher before the DFL gubernatorial primary. While they inevitably threw their support behind Dayton, many say he is open to some kind of alternative licensure and is not in the pocket of the teacher’s union.
Sellers said he is also encouraged by Dayton’s choice of Minneapolis Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Brenda Cassellius for education commissioner. He said she has allies in the education world that are advocates for programs like Teach for America.