Yesterday was a huge day for Minnesota public schools. The Senate and the House both passed SF 40, a bill that opens alternate paths to teacher certification, allowing talented teachers to get into our struggling schools as soon as possible.
Here's what Executive Director Vallay Varro has to say about the bill:
“Leadership from our elected representatives means a lifeline for our kids. The bill that the legislature passed will put more great teachers into Minnesota classrooms by creating truly alternative routes to teacher certification. It’s a bill that came out of courageous leadership from the legislature and the Governor. Because of this bill, if an economics major from one of our country’s best universities wants to teach seventh grade math in one of our struggling public schools he can demonstrate his math proficiency by passing a reliable test. It will allow programs like Teach for America to use their proven methods of training bright young teachers who will do everything they can to close Minnesota’s enormous achievement gap. We’ll be able to recruit excellent veteran teachers from neighboring states into our classrooms. Getting truly energetic and outcome oriented people into the teaching profession, establishing a different culture within teaching and building a leadership pipeline is a must if we want to close Minnesota’s shameful achievement gap. I’m proud that Minnesota is a step closer to putting this important tool into our education reform toolbox. I thank the legislature for their important work and urge Governor Dayton to finish the job.
But this is only the beginning. We now must get legislation that requires objective evidence of student learning, including data about student growth, to be the primary criterion of teacher evaluations. It would require all teachers to be evaluated annually, regardless of tenure, experience, or participation in the Q Comp program. The bill would allow tenure to be granted only for teachers who consistently demonstrate effectiveness based on these evaluations and it would implement a five-year probationary period to prevent effective teachers from unfair tenure decisions based on too little data and prevent ineffective teachers from premature tenure. It would require districts to report annually on the number of teachers who receive tenure, their effectiveness, and their students’ performance. Our state leadership has shown that they have the courage and conviction to tackle what ails our schools, and alternative teacher certification is a great start. But it is just a start."