Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Back to Work.  The three-day weekend is over and the Legislature reconvened today with a full set of hearings and floor sessions.  The Education Innovation Committee met this morning and went over the recommendations of the Legislative Study Group on Educator Licensing.  The report is not particularly long and it doesn't contain specific recommendations as to where a single licensing entity should be located (Board of Teaching or Minnesota Department of Education) or provide the exact outline of a tiered-licensure system, but it does give a framework from which the Legislature will be able to pursue and complete the task for streamlining Minnesota's educator licensing system and helping clarify what teaching candidates need to complete before being granted a full Minnesota teacher license.

Here is a link to the report:  2016 Report of Legislative Study Group on Educator Licensing

The House Education Finance Committee devoted its hearing to the early education issue, with presentations from the Minnesota Department of Education and Ericca Maas from Parent Aware for School Readiness.  There will be a lot of debate as the session continues over the proper direction for early childhood education and whether early childhood scholarships are better than (or perhaps mutually exclusive from) school-based programs paid for by increased pupil weighting.

The Senate Education Policy Committee covered the report from the Career and Technical Educator Licensing Task Force.  This report has some very specific recommendations that will likely dovetail with the larger teacher licensure questions that were raised by the Legislative Study Group on Educator Licensing.  Foremost among these recommendations are:

  • Consideration of alternative requirements to be a career and technical education instructor short of a baccalaureate degree.
  • Allowing two-year accredited institutions to offer content-related teacher preparation programs for prospective career and technical educators.
  • Creation of incentives for eligible institutions to provide alternative paths to licensure.
Here is a link to the full report:  Career and Technical Educator Licensing Task Force Report

There was another interesting hearing outside of the education committees that may well have an effect on the education community.  The House Health and Human Services Policy Committee heard the report of the Governor's Task Force on Mental Health.  Like many reports, this one is not heavy on focused recommendations, but it does provide a framework from which  more effective and transparent mental health care can be available for Minnesota citizens.  Schools will play a role in this system and that was made clear from the testimony and questions from legislators.

Here is a link to that report:  Governor's Task Force on Mental Health Report




Federal Watch.  The confirmation hearing for Secretary-designee Betsy Devos began on Wednesday and it sounds like it was a free-wheeling affair.  I will say this about the Secretary-designee.  Whatever her positions, I have never seen a reaction to a proposed Secretary of Education like this one.

Here is an article from The New York Times website on today's hearing:  Betsy Devos' Education Hearing Erupts into Partisan Debate

And here is an article from The New Republic (which is left-of-center) on Ms. Devos' career:  Betsy Devos is Not a Mainstream School Reformer

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