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Daniel Sellers: Simplify process for out-of-state teachers

Daniel Sellers: Simplify process for out-of-state teachers

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A literacy expert with years of experience in high-poverty schools. A special education instructor whose children make huge academic gains. A Harvard graduate whose students led the state in math.

These are among the countless teachers who can’t get licensed in Minnesota. That is, unless they jump through a variety of hoops, including spending time and money on redundant coursework, and even student teaching.

The reason? They were originally licensed out of state. To gain licensure in Minnesota, they must navigate an unclear, unreasonable and inconsistent process that purports to uphold high standards but in practice prevents successful out-of-state educators from teaching our kids.

When teacher shortages are growing across the state and school leaders are reporting that licensure hurdles prevent them from recruiting qualified candidates, Minnesota can no longer justify this confounding system.

When 10 experienced educators pursuing their Minnesota licenses have grown so frustrated, they’re currently suing the Board of Teaching — the entity responsible for licensure decisions — it’s clear that the system is broken.

Thankfully, there’s bipartisan agreement that we must streamline the path to licensure for out-of-state teachers, and both the Minnesota House and Senate are advancing measures to clarify state requirements and recognize educators’ professional experiences.

Frankly, they can’t send a bill to Gov. Dayton’s desk soon enough. Out-of-state teachers, many of whom have jobs on the line, and Minnesota school leaders are waiting for a better system. Most importantly, our kids are waiting, too. Let’s open the door to the great educators they need.

Daniel Sellers is executive director of MinnCAN (Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now), a statewide education advocacy nonprofit organization.

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