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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Aug. 25, 2022 – Addressing the educator shortage must be part of any comprehensive plan to improve student learning after scores on the 2021 Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments qualified hundreds of schools for additional state support.
“Many Minnesota schools are still struggling to fill jobs for teachers, counselors, nurses, education support professionals, substitutes, food service workers, custodians, bus drivers and other educators,” Specht said. “We can’t talk seriously about helping students recover from the pandemic if we’re not also talking about recruiting and retaining teachers and other educators.”
The Minnesota Department of Education said Thursday that it would provide extra academic support to 371 public schools, including 15 entire school districts, which were identified by Minnesota’s North Star accountability system, which includes the MCA tests. The department said it would provide additional support and training to those schools over the next three years.
“Meaningful professional development and other supports from the state are welcome, but they will not fix the most significant obstacle facing our students: There simply aren’t enough well-qualified professionals willing to work in public schools under the current working conditions and levels of compensation,” Specht said. “The path toward creating learning environments that work for all students must include changing how schools operate and making significant improvements to how Minnesota recruits, compensates and respects its educators.”
Specht noted that standardized tests like the MCAs were designed to provide a snapshot of academic achievement across the entire system of public education and are less useful for measuring what’s happening at the levels of school buildings or individual students. High levels of students who opt out of the tests, for example, can significantly lower the scores for districts and individual schools. “There are always groups that want to play politics with the test scores,” Specht cautioned. “If parents want to really understand what’s happening in their community schools or with their own children, we strongly urge them to ask their students’ principal or teachers. The people who know the names of the students know more about what’s happening with the education of those students than outside groups with their own agendas.”
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.