Minnesota Teacher-Diversity Bill Could Push Out Hundreds of Minority Educators

March 16, 2021

A bill aimed at diversifying Minnesota public school teachers could wind up having the opposite effect and push hundreds of teachers of color out of the school system.

The Democrat-sponsored legislation includes a host of financial incentives designed to attract non-white teachers to Minnesota, but it also would roll back decades of reform made to the state's licensing system that have helped minority teachers obtain permanent licenses, according to a bipartisan group of education experts in the state.

Currently, high-performing Minnesota teachers with temporary, Tier 2 licenses can automatically earn their permanent, Tier 3 licenses after three years in the classroom. Many of the state's minority teachers follow this path to obtain their permanent licenses, which last three years and can be renewed indefinitely. The new legislation would eliminate that pathway and close off "pathways to teachers of color," according to Joshua Crossen, director of the Minnesota-based EdAllies.

"Twenty-five percent of teachers of color will be pushed out of education," Crossen told the Washington Free Beacon. "It's unfortunate that [the bill] includes licensure language meant to push teachers of color out."

According to Clossen, Tier 2 teachers who relied on the current pathway could have their licenses revoked.

Catrin Wigfall, a policy fellow at the Center for the American Experiment, told the Washington Free Beacon that the changes would create undue "roadblocks" for accomplished minority educators. "Why would we undo teacher licensure reforms that are creating significant new pathways for teachers, particularly teachers of color, to enter the classroom?" she asked.

The bill parallels Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz's (D.) extensive Due North education plan. Released in January, the plan includes efforts to "address systemic racism" in Minnesota schools and close the gap between the number of minority students and teachers in Minnesota schools.

None of the Minnesota legislators behind the bill responded to the Free Beacon's request for comment. The bill is expected to move through the Democrat-controlled committee sometime this week.