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Amid controversy, Legislative Auditor's office to audit Board of Teaching

Auditor Jim Nobles

The state Legislative Auditor's office has begun an audit of the Minnesota Board of Teaching, which has faced criticism and a lawsuit over its process of approving alternative pathways to teacher licensing.

One of the first steps in the audit will be a legislative roundtable Friday morning where interested lawmakers will weigh in on the issues and provide input for the audit staff.

A major focus of the audit will be an examination of how the Board of Teaching has, or has not, implemented a 2011 state law that was designed to make it easier for teachers from other states, or experts in particular fields, to get a Minnesota teaching license.

Judy Randall, project manager in the Office of the Legislative Auditor, said the Friday session, 9 a.m. in Room 300 North of the State Office Building, will get the process started.

“We invite legislators who have an interest in the topic to talk about their concerns, and let us know what they're hoping we look into,” she said. “It's an informal process and we're looking for input.”

There's been much criticism of the Board's work on alternative pathways to licensure and earlier this month a lawsuit was filed against the board by attorney Rhyddid Watkinson behalf of prospective teachers facing roadblocks from the Board.

The Office of the Legislative Auditor notes that the Board of Teaching was set up to ensure that qualified, licensed teachers work in state school, by establishing standards and approving teacher-prep programs.

While legislators and some school districts have long wanted to streamline non-traditional ways for teachers to get a license — usually for those with out-of-state licenses or someone with an expertise in a needed specialty — many feel the Board hasn't moved fast enough.

“There's a lot of interest in encouraging and promoting those alternative pathways, but people seem to be running into roadblocks,” Randall said.

In preparing for the audit, the Legislative Auditors office stated:

"Teacher licensure has been an area of perennial concern at the Legislature. Past and current legislative priorities have included (1) increasing diversity among Minnesota teachers as a means of addressing the widening student achievement gap, (2) making teacher testing requirements less onerous, and (3) establishing simpler pathways for teachers trained out of state to become licensed in Minnesota. Since 2011, the Legislature has made a number of changes to licensing requirements in an attempt to address these issues, and additional changes are pending."

In trying to determine the Board of Teaching's effectiveness in its response to the legislative mandates from the past few years, the Legislative Auditor's office said it may consider: 

  • To what extent do the Board of Teaching’s activities overlap with those of the Minnesota Department of Education, and how do they coordinate efforts?
  • To what extent does the Board of Teaching manage licensing appeals, waivers, and the approval of teacher-preparation programs in a transparent, timely, and effective manner?
  • What progress has the Board of Teaching made in implementing legislative directives regarding teacher licensure, and what have been the outcomes of these efforts?

The Legislative Auditor's office tries to have audits like these finished by the start of the next legislative session, which would be January 2016, Randall said.

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Comments (6)

I'm Grateful for This Audit

Questions have been raised about the Board of Teaching which need to be answered,...

but they must be answered by those will objectively examine the evidence and come to fact-based conclusions.

So far the Board of Teaching has been tried in the "conservative" press based on accusations on the part of those who would prefer that just about anyone be allowed to walk into a school and take a job as a teacher,...

because that's the surest way for them to dismantle teaching as a profession,...

destroy our teacher's professional organizations,...

make sure our public schools are incapable of functioning well,...

and, thereby,..

allow them to justify reducing funding for public education (and, thereby, their own tax burden - in the manner of the Pawlenty administration),...

give themselves cover to dismantle public education in favor of a mostly-privatized system by which they hope to profit very handsomely,...

at the expense of parents,...

and in which they can gain carte blanche to teach their "conservative" ideology and the misinformation and outright lies they use to justify it,...

as if it were absolute fact (as factual evidence makes clear is already being done is many charter schools in the South).

If there are issues with the Board of Teaching, those need to be exposed and addressed,...

but I will not be surprised if it turns out that most of what has been raised is based on the ideology I've already spelled out,...

rather than any questionable actions or improper application and interpretation of state law on the part of the Board.

The surest way to dismantle

The surest way to dismantle teaching as a profession is the poor performance of students in your classroom and district. I find it hard to believe anyone wants our next generation of children to be incapable of learning. The big beef against public schools is not folks dislike teachers they dislike the low graduation rates along with dropping test scores of the students. If money was the cure to schools being successful then Baltimore with students making 40% over the national average per student, wouldn't be one of the worst districts in the country.

Same old worn out beef by progressives, more money more money is not working. Try something new for the good of the kids. Mpls and St Paul parents are fed up with it, maybe someone should listen to them.

Creative Idea

Let's tweak the school systems so the Administrators can:
- terminate poor Teachers quickly so the kids will not lose learning progress
- place Teachers in positions that are the best for the kids in the district
- pay the best Teachers and those in the most challenging classrooms the most
- layoff Teachers based on recent performance when necessary

If these logical things were in place, the Teacher's license would not be as critical. If the Teacher is not performing, they are terminated. Most degreed engineers that design the things you use everyday are not licensed... They either perform well or they need to find a different career.

And if the Administrators fail to deliver good Teacher engagement and Student results, let's make it easy to replace them. I am happy to give the Public schools more money if they start putting the student's needs before the wants of the adults.

It's not all right wing politics

The most compelling call for this audit is not some vast right wing conspiracy, it is the stories of qualified experienced out of state teachers who must hire an attorney and threaten to sue the Board of Teachers to get the license they are qualified for. Their Sisyphean task begs the question if the 2011 law is being followed or if there is another agenda by the Board of Teachers.

I doubt these qualified, experienced teachers come to Minnesota to work in the school and to also destroy the profession, destroy the union or dismantle public education considering most of them are trying to get jobs in those same institutions. Unless maybe you think they are some kind of covert double-agent force, or sleeper agents sent in by the Koch brothers to infiltrate and ultimately destroy the Minnesota school system?

It seems like the Board of Teachers is trying to maintain the supply/demand equation to prop up salaries by keeping fewer teachers available thus making openings more competitive. While the cries of "lowering standards" or as the commenter above states "... just about anyone be allowed to walk into a school and take a job as a teacher" are loud and frequent, there are just too many stories of qualified and experienced teachers being rejected in Minnesota without good explanation.

I welcome the results of the audit either way and hope it objectively assesses this issue.

correction

I wrote Board of Teachers, I meant Board of Teaching. Apologize for any confusion.

History

I remember when my wife looked into getting a MN Teaching license many years ago. It was going to be fairly painful. Thankfully she pursued a different path.