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Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators advocate
for paid student teaching

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Education Minnesota Aspiring Educators (EMAE) have been advocating for policies that will help reduce the teacher shortage by attracting more students into the education field. Since the number of students entering an education program has decreased steadily since 2017, attracting more students to these programs is essential for ensuring that all Minnesota students have access to high-quality educators.

One hurdle to pursuing an education degree is student teaching. Currently, students are required to complete 12 weeks or more of unpaid student teaching—for many would-be educators, this is a significant financial barrier because they cannot afford to work full time without compensation.

EMAE has focused on key legislative policies throughout this session that, if implemented, will help attract and retain education majors by easing these financial burdens. They started the legislative year with two main proposals that would provide compensation to Aspiring Educators during required student teaching semesters:

  • H.F. 3802/S.F. 3370 would provide funds for public school districts who host student teachers so that the districts can pay student teachers a stipend. The stipend would be provided twice during the semester—at the beginning and at the end—to help student teachers pay bills while completing mandatory teaching hours.
  • H.F. 4006/S.F. 3804 would waive tuition for student teachers at public institutions in undergraduate programs during a student teaching semester.

Because this year is not a budget year, legislators are passing a tight supplemental budget with mostly one-time money. For systemic change bills such as the ones listed above, there needs to be ongoing investment—money dedicated year-after-year in legislation.

In response to the tight budget released in March, EMAE has worked with legislators to build a lower-cost student teacher pay “pilot program” that fits within this year’s budget. Pilot programs are a useful tool to try out an idea and gauge the impact while considering the expansion of the program in a future budget session.

The pilot program bill directs money to certain colleges and universities to pay their student teachers a living wage during the 2024-2025 school year. Based on program size, enrollment decline, financial need and diversity, legislators chose the following institutions to include in the pilot program:

  • St. Cloud State University
  • Bemidji State University
  • Minnesota State University, Mankato
  • Winona State University
  • Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College
  • University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • University of Minnesota – Crookston

The bill itself, the institutions selected or other details could change as the House and Senate work out differences in conference committee. The last day of the 2024 legislative session is May 20.

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