By Pat Kessler

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota lawmakers are preparing to send Gov. Mark Dayton a major overhaul of the way the state licenses teachers.

It is just one of the important bills moving through the legislature in the last few days of the 2017 session.

Supporters call this the most significant change to teacher licensing in the last 40 years, and it could help ease a growing shortage of teachers in rural school districts.

The bill creates a new licensing board that makes it easier for out-of-state teachers or workers from other careers to get a Minnesota license.

classroom Bill Seeks Dramatic Overhaul Of Teacher Licenses

(credit: CBS)

The state teacher’s union says it could allow people in the classroom without formal training, lowering the bar for teachers.

“Lowering the bar is not how we solve the problem. Lowering the bar is not how we keep our quality education system in Minnesota. Lowering the bar is not how we respect the profession of teaching,” said Rep. Erin Maye Quade, DFL-Apple Valley.

But advocates say schools need flexibility to hire hard-to-fill jobs, like science and special education.

“A teacher with, you know, 10 years of experience coming in can’t get a license, even though he or she is extremely qualified,” said Sen Eric Pratt, R-Jordan. “And it’s really hurting our rural districts.”

Gov. Dayton has not yet said whether he will sign the teacher license bill.

Dayton and Republican leaders have been meeting behind closed doors throughout Tuesday, trying to reach a budget agreement.

They have six days to pass the bills to fund the government.

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