Vibrant business and industries that are successfully navigating the workforce shortages rural Minnesota is experiencing have one factor in common: They are not stuck in the 21 century in considering their hiring practices.
For the first time in history, most areas in Minnesota are experiencing a true employee market, a market in which employees have the upper hand in choosing their employment and employment conditions. Yet, teacher licensure and teacher preparation is still operating under the premise that we are still living in the 1980’s and there are more teachers in the market than there are teaching positions.
Career & Technical Education teachers are in a more unique position than any other in the K-12 teaching field. They have additional technical skills and abilities that make them very desirable to the private sector, and that private sector is often times much more lucrative than traditional teacher contracts.
Additionally, since there are either limited or zero pathways to obtain a teacher license (or in some instances, there are actually NO teacher licenses for some CTE disciplines) the current climate only exacerbates the fact we are in a crisis.
This crisis threatens not only the continued vitality of CTE programs in our schools, this crisis, in the long-term, threatens the economic vitality of our state and nation.
TASK FORCE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Career & Technical Educator Licensing Task Force, which was created in 2016 statute and membership appointed by MDE, thoughtfully considered a tremendous amount of information and recently reported six recommendations to the legislature in their report.
These six recommendations, if implemented in concert with each other, could have a significant impact on opening up a pipeline for quality teachers to enter the field. The task force recommendations include:
- Maintain licensure requirements and prerequisites in administrative rule, and not codified in statute.
- In order to ensure forward progress for CTE programs and teacher workforce, establish (with funding commensurate with scope of work) an ongoing Career & Technical Education Work Group.
- Consider alternative requirements to a baccalaureate degree for Career & Technical Education licenses.
- Allow Minnesota’s two year institutions of higher education the ability to provide content-related CTE teacher preparation programs.
- Create incentives for eligible entities to create alternative teacher preparation programs outside of the traditional credit-based system.
- Provide adequate and sustainable funding to the agency(ies) responsible for licensure.
Current considered reforms, particularly regarding the governance structure and tiered licensure may very well be necessary steps to streamline licensure processes, these reforms simply do not address the fundamental fact that there are no pathways towards licensure for non-traditional adults wanting to enter the teaching profession.
We need to come to the realization that if we continue to rely only on students leaving high school to enter college to become a teacher through the credit-based system, we will only continue to exacerbate the problem.
There are simply not enough young adults going into the profession. Creating pathways towards licensure for second career teachers that already have a wealth of education, life experience, and content knowledge is going to be integral to sustain the profession. Requiring these potential educators to go back to college and jump through those costly hoops simply will not work.
Creative thinking about high quality professional development and mentorship that is not necessarily rooted in the college and university credit-based system needs to be a strong consideration for a pathway towards licensure.
A robust and effective workforce is a competition for the best and brightest. Public schools need to consider revolutionary thinking around supporting our best and brightest teachers currently in our classrooms, and find ways to entice the best and brightest in other areas to enter the classroom. Getting them to that point and then telling them they need to go buy a bunch of credits that may not be of any use is simply not a sustainable pathway any longer. It probably never was.
This report was provided by Troy M. Haugen, CTE Coordinator of the Lakes Country Service Cooperative.