U.S. Sen. Al Franken recently wrote a letter to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) regarding his concern regarding HLC’s intent to implement additional credentialing standards on high school faculty.
Like most school officials, Sen. Franken wrote that he was particularly concerned with this language from HLC:
“If a faculty member holds a master’s degree or higher in a discipline or subfield other than that in he or she is teaching, the faculty should have completed a minimum of 18 graduate credit hours in the discipline or subfield in which they teach.”
Here is an excerpt of Sen. Franken’s letter:
I am a member of the Senate Education Committee, and I have authored the bipartisan Accelerated Learning Act, which would expand current federal programming that pays for Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) exams for low income students also include dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment as an allowable use of federal Title I dollars. These accelerated learning models can help ensure learning is rigorous and engaging for students, better prepare them for success in postsecondary education, and help them earn college credit while still in high school which can save students and their families a lot of money.
I am a strong advocate for ensuring that our high school students are taught by the most qualified and talented educators; however, I am concerned that your proposed policy will threaten the ability of schools in Minnesota and across our nation to offer concurrent enrollment and dual credit options for students. Furthermore, the proposed rule by HLC to require not only a Master’s Degree but also 18 additional credits could prove incredibly burdensome to educators, many of which have already taught concurrent and dual credit courses for high school students for multiple years.
Therefore, I urge you to reconsider this proposed rule and suggest that HLC continue to approve the use of alternative, holistic qualifications for academic faculty and not go ahead with the proposed rule change at this time. While many Minnesota teachers have master’s degrees, those degrees usually emphasize curriculum, content and pedagogy. Knowledge in the particular academic discipline should be allowed to be demonstrated through a multitude of relevant teaching experience, course work, professional development activities, curriculum development and practical experience.
NOTE: Minnesota Sen. Terri Bonoff is going to hold a joint Minnesota House/Senate hearing on this credentials issue. This hearing is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, October 8. Once we know specific details, we will post them on this site.