Lawmakers pressure state board to streamline licenses for out-of-state teachers

Minnesota lawmakers are pressuring the state's Board of Teaching to move faster on adopting new, streamlined rules for licensing teachers from out of state.

Members of two House education committees held a hearing Thursday to determine whether the board is complying with a legislative directive passed last spring to help out-of-state educators more easily get licenses to teach in Minnesota.

Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, said the board has shown a lack urgency in trying to address a teacher shortage. "Our teacher core is still almost exclusively white," said Loon, who chairs the House education finance committee.

"Fewer than five percent of our teachers are teachers of color. And again we continue, particularly in the areas of special education, some math and science areas, to have significant shortages of teacher candidates."

State law requires the teaching board to adopt its new rules by Jan. 1, 2016. But last week, the board posted a request for public comment on a set of draft rules.

Erin Doan, executive director of the teachers board, pushed back against the criticism directed at the board.

"It just gets really frustrating, coming back to the table talking about the vilification of a group of people who work very hard to make sure our kids get the best," Doan said.

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