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by Tom Steward in the Watchdog.org on Monday, December 28, 2015

Now that Christmas is over and the New Year beckons, it’s time for Watchdog.org’s annual parade of malfeasance and miscreants.

The Scariest People of 2015 is a frightening list indeed, filled with bureaucrats and functionaries who, shall we say, do not share an affinity for liberty.

No one can stop them from plying their trade — bad government is as old as government. But we can keep an eye on them, report their misdeeds to the world and once in a while help the good guys win.

Through New Year’s Day, we’ll highlight the most egregious examples of nanny statism, overweening bureaucracy and just plain old bad government from the past 12 months, encompassing local, state and federal officialdom.

Here is No. 17.

The Minnesota Board of Teaching faces a state legislative audit, a sweeping lawsuit by out-of-state educators denied licenses and charges of exacerbating one of the nation’s worst achievement gap for minority students.

Loophole lets more than $1.1 million in local government spending on lobbyists go under the radar.

“This is an urgent matter and we do expect the board to act with all due expediency,” Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said at an oversight hearing.

Yet the rogue agency appears unlikely to meet a Jan. 1 deadline to implement legislative reforms designed to fast track teacher licensing, improve transparency and streamline the licensure system.

“Unfortunately, the Board of Teaching consistently refuses to apply or follow the law,” said Rhyddid Watkins, an attorney representing 20 out-of-state teachers. “It’s gotten to a point where it’s just simply unpalatable.”

Board of Teaching Executive Director Erin Doan has apologized to some teachers, who were denied licenses for years.

“Yes, I believe there are issues,” Doan told legislators. “Yes, I believe it is our responsibility to clean them up. No, I don’t believe we have been sitting still.”

Still, the process remains inconsistent and incoherent. Some transferring teachers have quit the classroom rather than repeat student teaching, retake college courses and other requirements they’ve already satisfied in other states.

“I said no, I said I’m done, and I love teaching,” said Kirstin Rogers, who gave up on her application upon moving from Utah and joined a lawsuit against the state board.

Meantime, many schools confront a teacher shortage that could be addressed by making it easier to recruit and retain out-of-state instructors.

“Along with experienced out-of-state teachers who want to work in Minnesota and local school leaders who want and need to hire them, we will be closely watching the BoT’s actions,” said Daniel Sellers,  executive director of MinnCan, an education reform advocacy group.


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