Education Minnesota teachers union president Tom Dooher is speaking out in television ads against an alternative licensure proposal for teachers now before the Minnesota Legislature. Dooher says that the proposals would "lower standards to become a teacher in Minnesota." While alternative licensure would certainly challenge the status quo, "alternative" need not mean "lower" standards.
The bill, SF 2757, "Alternative Pathways for Teacher Licensure," would provide qualified, trained reinforcements to existing teachers, from the ranks of recent college graduates and experienced workforce veterans. Nonprofit efforts like Teach for America have proved that this can reap significantly improved educational outcomes for students in even the toughest environments. According to its web site, "We believe that the best hope for ending educational inequity is to build a massive force of leaders in all fields who have the perspective and conviction that come from teaching successfully in low-income communities."
Alternative licensure is supported by Republicans and DFLers in Minnesota and the Obama administration.
While such a system would release new energy and expertise to struggling schools, it could also dilute Education Minnesota's influence over all things K-12 in the state, including teacher training and compensation, tenure, and statewide education policy. Lawmakers and voters do have a choice to make: doing what's best for our children, or continuing to do what's best for the teachers union.