OTHER OPINION: Education | BrainerdDispatch.com | Brainerd, Minnesota

OTHER OPINION: Education

Teachers should be licensed

Posted: April 14, 2011 - 4:23pm

When Minnesota parents send their children off to school, they expect them to have qualified teachers.

In fact, state law clearly says that teachers must have state-issued licenses to teach certain subject areas or grade levels.

Despite those rules, hundreds of state instructors do their jobs without those credentials, according to a recent Star Tribune story. And the state does little about it.

As long as the laws are on the books, they should be followed and enforced. School administrators and the state’s Board of Teaching and Department of Education must take more responsibility to either get required waivers or employ instructors with proper credentials.

The story reported that more than 900 Minnesota educators violated licensing laws over the past five years — including 62 who taught with no licenses at all. Reporters analyzed the staffing data that schools are required to submit to the state twice per year.

They found that as many as 57,000 students in 300 public school districts and charter schools could have been taught by educators without proper licenses.

Licensing problems can have a devastating impact on students. An alternative school in Minneapolis recently found that some of its students may not graduate this year because several teachers weren’t properly licensed.

It’s unknown whether any additional current students could be similarly affected. It’s ridiculous that a teenager should miss out on getting a diploma based on staffing mistakes made by teachers and administrators.

Researchers agree that, next to family, effective teaching is the most important factor for academic achievement.

For the sake of children, districts and the state must do a better job of enforcing their own licensing rules.