Why Is This St. Paul Teacher Being Denied A Teaching License?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities man says his plight to get a teaching license — after being a teacher for three years already — only underscores the need for a change.

While postmodernism consumes his fifth period at Gordon Parks High School, Don Allen has been brushing up on another movement outside of his class.

“They always in teaching say that ‘one size fits one,’ but now they’re telling us that ‘one size fits all,'” Allen said. “In Minnesota, it’s easier to become a police officer than it is to be a teacher.”

don allen Why Is This St. Paul Teacher Being Denied A Teaching License?

Don Allen (credit: CBS)

After a career in the Army and corporate America, Allen graduated with a master’s degree in education in 2016.

“They do not look at the individual and the experience of the individual,” he said. “They stick to the statues.”

He has been unable to obtain a full license, and is allowed to teach with what’s known as a “limited license.”

Allen has yet to complete his student teaching. He will have to pay close to $10,000 for 12 weeks of observation by his college.

“It’s not just me. This is a big problem for a lot of people,” Allen said.

The Minnesota Board of Teaching sets the standards teachers must meet. The Minnesota Department of Education makes initial decisions about license applications.

That system has been called inefficient and complicated for years.

don allen in his classroom Why Is This St. Paul Teacher Being Denied A Teaching License?

Don Allen in his classroom (credit: CBS)

After work at the Capitol, a Professional Educator License and Standards Board will take over. It’s expected to streamline the process and do a better job finding alternative paths to get qualified people to teach.

Allen is also the only black teacher at his high school, which is another reason he believes his story deserves a second look, as Minnesota also struggles to find educators who mirror the students they teach.

Another option is a program called “licensure by portfolio.” That system grants licenses based on experiences rather than traditional courses and training.

There are also standards that need to be met in that case, and Allen has been told he has yet to meet those.

Both the Board of Teaching and Minnesota Department of Education can’t comment on individual applications.

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