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Proposal is an 'emotional issue'

Superintendent Doug Froke called the alternative licensure proposal an "emotional issue."

It's something Detroit Lakes school officials should look out for this legislative session because it could change the current education system.

Earlier this week, Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher re-introduced the idea of alternative licensure. But this time, the union is pushing for it.

Last year, the statewide teachers union was against legislature's proposal to allow experienced professionals to teach K-12.

But this year, Education Minnesota will support responsible efforts to create alternative pathways into teaching.

However, Dooher stressed that new opportunities shouldn't open up doors for those who aren't qualified.

"It makes no sense that, when we're demanding more from our students, we would demand less from our teachers and then expect better results," he said in a news release.

Legislators on Thursday began looking at the bills that would allow professionals into the classroom.

The bills require anyone who may be considering becoming a teacher to have a bachelor's degree; pass reading, writing and math basic skills test; and obtain qualifying scores on the state Board of Teaching's exams.

Legislators are also proposing at least 200 hours of education about becoming a teacher, as well as spending time as a student teacher.

Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, chairman of the House Education Finance Committee, said he would leave the decision about hiring non-traditional teachers to individual school districts. The state would not force any school to hire one, he added.

Froke said if Detroit Lakes were to have that option and needed it, it would take advantage of hiring community professionals as school teachers.

However, he doesn't anticipate there would be a need for the alternative licensure program since the district is located within close proximity to many colleges and universities whose students come back to the community for work.

"But if you get into the northwest part of the state or the southwest corner of the state, those districts need options like alternative licensure to help them fill those critical shortage areas," Froke added.

The legislature is set to continue working on this proposal into next week.

Don Davis, writer for the State Capitol Bureau, contributed to this report.