U of M, Teach for America Propose New Teacher Licensure Partnership Program

Updated: 04/19/2014 10:19 AM
Created: 04/18/2014 10:43 PM
By: Brandi Powell

Minnesota teachers may soon get the opportunity to be trained in a brand new way.

A law passed in 2011 allows for the creation of alternative teacher licensure programs, and now, "Teach for America Twin Cities" and the University of Minnesota are proposing they team up in a first-of-its-kind program.

However, they're in a holding pattern until the state decides if it will give this non-traditional program a green light.

This innovative idea isn't without its critics.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS met up with Ashley Brown as she taught her third grade class about fractions at St. Paul City School. This attorney-turned-teacher hadn't taught before until she got into the Teach for America program.

"I chose Teach for America because it was the fastest way to get into the classroom and to get into the kind of classroom that I want to be in: which is a classroom in an urban environment with students who come from a...variety of backgrounds, with lots of different needs."

Teach for America and the University of Minnesota hope the Minnesota Board of Teaching passes their proposed partnership for a new, non-traditional pathway to teaching.

"In the field today, we need to find alternative ways to prepare people who really want to become teachers," said Deborah Dillon, the Associate Dean for Graduate, Professional and International Programs with the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

Some people are skeptical of Teach for America's expedited training-program.

"There is concern that has been expressed that the preparation program for the TFA Corps members is too short," Dillon said.

The program is five weeks long, but Dillon says the U of M's idea to partner with Teach for America is much different.

"They will spend with us eight weeks, which is longer than any other program in the country," Dillon said. "We will be preparing people in Minnesota to work in Minnesota schools."

Plus, they'd use the same co-teaching model that the U of M is using right now.

"We are expecting all of our teachers to meet the same standards regardless of the type of program you go through, but in an alternative pathway there's more flexibility about how and when you demonstrate mastery of those standards," Executive Director for Teach for America Twin Cities Crystal Brakke said.

The Minnesota Board of Teaching says it might vote on the proposed partnership as early as May 9.

The U of M and Teach for America are hoping they get the go-ahead so they can begin in June.

So far, more than 40 prospective teachers have signed up. 

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