MSBA at the Capitol — Education committees explore teacher licensure, free school breakfast

MSBA at the Capitol — Education committees explore teacher licensure, free school breakfast

In the House …

The House Education Innovation Policy Committee began a discussion Tuesday on a teacher licensure bill (HF2) introduced by Rep. Jenifer Loon (Eden Prairie).

This proposal aims to streamline the licensure process for out-of-state educators and encourage reciprocity, assist teacher applicants who are unable to pass Minnesota’s basic skills tests, expand alternative pathways, and change teacher-retention policies from seniority-based to merit-based.

Click here for related MPR story (“GOP pushes teacher tenure, license changes at hearing”).

Under this bill, the school boards would be allowed to use variances to hire non-licensed community experts without prior Board of Teaching approval if there are no licensed teachers available to teach vocational career and technical classes. This proposal would also prohibit school administrators from placing students in consecutive school years in the classroom of ineffective teachers unless other teachers are unavailable.

This legislation would repeal the current statutory unrequested leave of absence provisions and require that school districts, as of the 2016-17 school year, place teachers — which may include probationary teachers— on unrequested leave of absence or discontinue or terminate teachers based on their licensure field, evaluation outcomes and effectiveness category, and other locally agreed-to criteria.

In addition to the opposition of eliminating the long-held “last in, first out” approach to unrequested leaves of absence, the committee heard concerns about lowering standards by not holding teachers from other states to Minnesota’s high standards and by hiring non-licensed instructors.

Due to the number of testifiers, MSBA will provide comments on this proposal on Thursday morning when the committee reconvenes.

In the Senate …

The Senate E-12 Budget Division considered SF344 Tuesday, a bill sponsored by Sen. Alice Johnson (Blaine) that would expand the school breakfast program to provide all elementary school students with a free breakfast beginning FY2016.

Under this proposal, the state reimbursement would be increased for each fully paid breakfast from 55 cents to $1.30 for students in elementary school, totaling $46.2 million for FY2016-17. Last year, the Legislature appropriated an additional $1.30 reimbursement for all breakfast meals served to kindergartners.

MSBA spoke in support of health and nutrition for all Minnesota students and urged that the committee increase the basic education formula so that each district has the flexibility to utilize the funds for the needs of their schools.

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