Legislative Update – January 18, 2017

Minnesota Teacher Licensure

Tuesday in the House, the Education Innovation Policy Committee dug into the Minnesota teacher licensure system, reviewing a March 2016 report by the Office of the Legislative Auditor, which portrayed the current system as complex and in need of reform.

The report looked at other state teaching licensure systems and found the majority of them function under one agency. It recommends Minnesota do the same and provided proposals to make that happen.

“The current structure is not working well, for anyone; compared to other states it is really an anomaly,” said Deputy Legislative Auditor Judy Randall. “It needs to be consolidated somewhere.”

Under the first, and highest recommended proposal, teacher-licensure activities would be consolidated into the Board of Teaching who would make all licensure determinations, and issue licenses. Similar to its current duties, an increased staff would now review all applicants’ questions, applications, credentials, and issue the appropriate licenses. The process would become streamlined and the state’s education commissioner would have a seat on the board to add an increased perspective and maintain transparency. Disadvantages to the option include the need for increased staffing and potential changes to the appeal process.

Other recommendations include clarifying existing statutes to reduce conflict and ambiguity, and restructuring the licensure system itself to one with tiered levels rather than the standards-based one that is currently used (and is more open for interpretation). Qualifications regarding master’s degrees and other extracurricular skills would also need to be considered. Charter schools would be governed under the same tiered system, but could see exceptions. A task force report regarding career and technical education instructors’ licensing qualifications is expected in the coming weeks.

Higher Education committee meetings

Yesterday, the Senate Higher Education Finance and Policy Committee officially held it’s first meeting, due to a postponement from the week prior. Members received an overview on higher education budget, as well as an overview from the Office of Higher Education.

Also on Tuesday, the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee heard an overview from the Minnesota Private College Council, which enrolls 57,700 students across its 16 private, nonprofit member colleges. Altogether the 16 independent institutions employ 13,900 staff and add an estimated $1.9 billion to the state’s economy.

Today, the House Higher Education and Career Readiness Policy and Finance Committee will hear an overview from the Minnesota Career College Association. Next week, both the House and Senate Higher Education committees will hear overviews from the University of Minnesota and Minnesota State.

Read the full update.

Questions? Contact the Government Relations Team:

Jaime Simonsen
Bernie Omann
Jim Grathwol

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