Finding new teachers

Alternative licensing can close the state’s education gap.

Daily Editorial Board

In order to address MinnesotaâÄôs educational achievement gap, lawmakers are considering a bill for alternative teacher licensing, which would allow mid-career professionals and recent college graduates who have earned degrees in other subjects to be more efficiently trained for the classroom. This bodes well for rural schools, which face teacher shortages in math, science and specialized subjects as well as urban schools scouring for teachers who are bilingual or can serve minority populations.  
Through alternative licensing, those with a bachelorâÄôs degree who have passed basic skills tests and Minnesota Board of Teaching exams could opt for 200 hours of training to obtain their licenses, rather than returning to school for a traditional education degree.
Minnesota is clearly in need of this new crop of potential teachers: Education Weekly gave it a âÄúCâÄù on its 2011 Quality Counts report card, which judged schools according to their teacher improvement, student achievement, finance, class size and other criteria. This grade puts Minnesota in an unacceptably low 36th place nationally.
The alternative licensing program will not be forced on schools, but it will make it easier for qualified individuals to become teachers by enabling local school districts to hire teaching staff that meet the specific needs of their students.
This is an important step towards providing greater access to a quality education across the state. Alternative teacher licensing will help eliminate teacher shortages and bring Minnesota one step closer to closing its achievement gap