This week, over one hundred teachers, administrators, teacher preparation providers, superintendents, and advocates attended the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board’s (PELSB) training sessions on the new, four-tiered teacher licensure system. The two sessions provided general information on the four different teacher licenses, the forthcoming online application system, supports PELSB can provide, and an opportunity for attendees to ask PELSB staff questions.
It’s been a busy few months for PELSB and its staff as they prepare for July 1 deadline for implementation of the new teacher licensure system. During the 2018 legislative session, PELSB requested an extension on rulemaking from the legislature, arguing they needed more time to write and finalize the rules. Even though the legislature passed an omnibus bill that would have extended rulemaking until September 1, 2018, Governor Dayton vetoed it.
This post will provide a refresher on the new teacher licensure system, an update on rulemaking, and information on how teachers and teacher candidates can apply for licensure.
Refresher: History and Context for the New Licensure System
During the 2017 session, the legislature completely overhauled Minnesota’s teacher licensure system, and replaced it with the new four-tiered teacher licensure system. Starting with a Tier 1 license, candidates have prescribed pathways and requirements for how they can work up to and/or qualify for the paramount Tier 4 license. Importantly, the new legislation got rid of special permissions (like community experts or personnel variance), one-year standard licenses, as well as abolished the Board of Teaching and replaced it with PELSB.
Even though the new licensure system followed recommendations from a 2016 report from the Office of the Legislative Auditor (which called the old system “complex, unclear, and confusing”) and a Legislative Study Group on Educator Licensing, it was still very contentious. While several organizations supported it, the Minnesota Department of Education and Education Minnesota did not.
Governor Dayton did sign the new licensure system into law. However, he also line-item vetoed funding for the legislature (which resulted in a lawsuit) and demanded the legislature reopen negotiations on teacher licensure, and four other provisions, in order for a special session to happen. In the end, no special session took place, so the transition to the new four-tiered system moved forward.
Update on Rulemaking; Public Comment Still Open
Even though PELSB will start issuing teacher licenses under the new system on July 1, they still have to go through the required rulemaking process. As part of the process, there was a hearing on June 8, where members of the public were able to provide information to an administrative law judge on three questions:
- Does the Board have the legal authority to adopt the rules?
- Has the Board fulfilled all of the relevant legal and procedural requirements that they need to in order to promulgate the rules?
- Has the Board demonstrated that the rules are needed and reasonable?
At the hearing Alex Liuzzi, PELSB’s executive director, and Anne Krefthefer, PELSB’s Chair, provided comments and background on the current rule draft. Testimony was also given by 24 people, who provided comments on several areas in the rule draft, including two of the more contested areas from previous public comment—the requirement for Tier 1 teachers to receive mentorship for a first time renewal and PELSB’s definition of cultural competency training programs.
Following the hearing, a 20-day public comment period opened and will remain open until June 28. On June 29, there will be a rebuttal period that creates an opportunity for people to respond to comments that have already been made, but not make new comments.
The administrative law judge will issue her report by August 6. The report will either confirm adoption of the rules, or inform PELSB they must change some of them because it goes beyond the purview of statute.
Teacher Licensure Applications — Online System Isn’t Ready, So Paper It Is!
Even though PELSB will not start issuing licenses under the new system until July 1, teacher candidates are already able to fill out and submit the forms. However, there’s one catch. PELSB’s online system for processing teacher licenses isn’t ready for use, so all teacher licensure applications will have to be submitted by paper. Importantly, the paper applications must have the original ink signatures on them, so they can only be mailed or dropped off at the PELSB office and cannot be faxed, scanned, or emailed.
When will the online system be ready? PELSB doesn’t know. In order to be proactive and still be able to process teacher licenses within a reasonable timeframe, PELSB has hired five temporary staff members and extended phone hours.
How Can You Provide Input to PELSB?
Below is information on ways individuals can provide PELSB with feedback on their current rule draft.
- Online public comment will be open until 4:30 PM on Thursday, June 28.
- Rebuttal comment period will be open from June 29 through 4:30 PM on July 6.
- Attend public PELSB meetings.
Education Evolving will continue to follow and report on the implementation of the teacher licensure system, the development of rules, and other relevant topics.
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