I moved to Minnesota to be with my love. It was late June and I was worried about finding a teaching job, since the hiring process for the upcoming school year begins in April. I quickly collected and sent in my credentials and college transcripts to the Minnesota Department of Education, and then immediately began filling out job application after job application. By the beginning of August, I had been hired as a full-time teacher and soon I was engaged to be married to the man that I love. My move to Minnesota was working out great. However, a major roadblock soon popped up affecting my teaching career—the Minnesota teacher licensing “process.”
Despite years of teaching experience in a variety of subjects, I was only given a two-year restricted history license; this meant that I could only teach history for two years, unless I took an extensive amount of college courses. This “license” was very confusing. How could I not be qualified to teach in Minnesota when I had the following credentials?
- B.A. in History teaching and an English teaching minor from a four-year accredited university;
- A Master's in Education from a four-year accredited university;
- Additional college courses to receive teaching endorsements in the following subjects: English as a Second Language, Geography, and Reading (all of which I taught in Utah);
- Teaching achievements: Teacher of the Year for my school, Fulbright Memorial Fund participant, teacher exchange to Russia funded by a Fulbright grant through Iowa State, mentor teacher, advisor to numerous clubs, co-founder of a literacy committee; and
- Twelve years of teaching experience.
Baffled at not gaining the standard, five-year, renewable teaching license I knew I deserved, I asked the MDE, “How could someone with 40 plus hours of college credit—15 of which were graduate level courses—not be qualified to teach in Minnesota?” “It doesn’t work like that in Minnesota,” I was told. No further explanation. No other guidance.
So, how does it work in Minnesota? In order to gain my license, I needed to have a local teacher college review my credentials and decide if I had preparation “essentially equivalent” to what they would offer me. When I sent my college transcripts to a Minnesota university, they told me that I would need to complete courses in effective teaching methods and classroom management, and even student teach. All of that, a total of 15-18 credit hours, to get licensed in just one of the subjects I had taught in Utah. I was shocked, angry and discouraged.
Sadly my story is not unique. “Minnesota is the worst state for out-of-state teachers to come to,” many colleagues have told me. They’ve also shared with me stories similar—but not identical—to my own, because Minnesota’s licensing “process” for out-of-state is so inconsistent. Had I initially sent my college transcripts to a different Minnesota university, for example, I could have been told to take entirely different courses. The out-of-state teacher licensing process is not like this in other states, and it should not be like this in Minnesota.
I am not sharing my story to whine or to get sympathy, but to educate the people of Minnesota that the licensure system for out-of-state teachers is broken, cumbersome and unreasonable. This system deters effective, experienced and passionate teachers who, for love, family, or different reasons altogether, want to work here in Minnesota. And Minnesota schools want—and need—to hire us.
It shouldn’t work like this in Minnesota. Highly qualified, experienced, effective out-of-state teachers should have a clear, reasonable and consistent path to their licenses, a path that honors their professional experiences and gets them in the classroom, where they belong.
After 14 years of teaching, Kirstin is currently a full-time mom and a part-time tutor. She is also taking courses to earn a K-12 Reading license, and looks forward to being a classroom teacher again.
The MinnCAN blog allows Minnesota teachers, administrators, parents and advocates to share their thoughts on key education issues. Blogging fellows' and guest bloggers' views and opinions are solely their own.
Act now to help teachers like Kirstin teach in Minnesota! Complete this quick and easy action alert to urge the state education conference committee to give experienced out-of-state educators a fair and clear path into our classrooms. Negotiations are happening now so take action right away!