House Republicans focus on hiring and keeping effective teachers

The Minnesota House of Representatives will kick off the education portion of their “Reform 2.0” initiative as Representatives Andrea Kieffer and Branden Petersen present education reform bills on the House floor this week. Both bills are meant to improve Minnesota teachers by ensuring that Minnesota school districts are hiring and keeping effective teachers.

Representative Andrea Kieffer (R-Woodbury) sponsors House File 1770, which requires teacher candidates to pass the basic skills exam before being granted an initial teaching license.

“We all agree that we need to raise the bar for teacher candidates in order to solve the achievement gap,” Kieffer said. “Current law requires the basic skills test, but still allows teachers in the classroom even if they fail. This bill addresses concerns that teacher candidates should not be allowed into the classroom prior to passing the basic skills exam.”

The bill also requires teachers who completed their teacher preparation program outside Minnesota to pass the basic skills exam before being granted a Minnesota teaching license.

“The bill has received bi-partisan authorship in the House and Senate,” Kieffer said. “I look forward to continued bi-partisan progress as the legislation moves through the Senate and eventually to Governor Dayton’s desk.”

In an effort to keep effective teachers, Representative Branden Petersen (R-Andover) authored House File 1870, which would eliminate a Minnesota state statute that forces school districts to consider only seniority, and ignore performance, when unfortunate teacher layoffs (ULA) are required. This bill will allow school districts to consider a teacher’s subject matter, licensure fields and their effectiveness, along with seniority when facing personnel decisions.

House File 1870 would amend Minnesota Statutes 2010, sections 122A.40, subdivisions 1.510, 11; and 122A.41, subdivision 14 which mandate that school districts account only for teacher seniority in the case of unrequested leave of absence, discharge, and demotion decisions. Minnesota is one of only 11 states in the country that retains this work rule for teachers.

“I believe this bill is an essential step in improving the performance of our teachers and school systems for the benefit of our students,” said Petersen. “A question that must be asked in this discussion is, ‘How can ignoring a teacher’s performance during layoffs (ULA) benefit our students in the classroom?’ Considering the fact that we know teachers are the most important in-school factor relating to student learning, it is essential that we protect our highest performing teachers.”