Tuesday, March 23, 2004

With enemies like that... 

I've received now three alerts from my union on alternative teacher licensure, which is opposed by them, the U of M, the private colleges, MnSCU, Education Minne$ota, and the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. With enemies like that, it's worth looking over carefully.

The opponents note that a statute already exists for alternative licensure. That would be 122A.24. But that statute is quite different from the one proposed in SF 2109 (or the House companion HF 1814). In 122A.24, someone must already have been offered a job as a teacher who doesn't have the license and must be approved by the Board of Teaching, which has already created the license process that is to be circumvented. Moreover, "The Board of Teaching must ensure that one of the purposes of this program is to enhance the school desegregation/integration policies adopted by the state." That pretty much rules out its use outside of the Twin Cities. SF2109 puts the decisionmaking process on alternative licensure in the hands of the Commissioner of Education, and doesn't have the requirement on the purpose of using these teachers. SF2109 provides for a mentoring program for such teachers and specifies 200 hours of instruction for them "in classroom management, curriculum, and instruction" while they're on the job, rather than 122A.24's requirement for them to get the training beforehand.

The opponents shoot themselves in the foot with lines like these from my union's lobbyist today:
Overall, Minnesota does not have a teacher shortage. There are 56,142 teachers in the state, but 214, 217 teacher licenses. However, there are shortages is certain fields, such as mathematics, science and special education. Opponents of HF 1814/SF 2109 say the shortages could be addressed by amending the current law to allow alternative licensure in areas where there is an identified shortage of teachers.
Two points here. First, an excess of English teachers and a shortage of science teachers does not an equilibrium make. Second, if the old law was so darn good, why do these shortages persist?

Direct question to the opponents: How many alternative teachers licenses have been granted under 122A.24? And in what fields?