MACTE Testifies in Support of Funding to Increase a Diverse Teacher Workforce
I serve as the legislative liaison for the Minnesota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (MACTE), a consortium of over 20 public and private institutions of higher education. We represent both urban and rural geographic regions and we range in size. In Minnesota, we are unique in that the governor is a democrat, the house is majority democrat, and the senate is majority republican.
Prior to the launch of the Minnesota legislative session, MACTE developed collaborative legislative priorities that guide our work with the legislature. This year our four main goals are 1) to maintain high quality teacher preparation standards and support initiatives that reflect the research base around teaching methodologies; 2) increase the diversity of the Minnesota teaching force through strategies to recruit, support, prepare, and retain teachers of color; 3) to improve the retention of teachers; and 4) to support high-quality research-based E-12 instructional practices. In my work as the liaison, I attend committee meetings and advocate our support (or opposition) to proposed legislation through written or oral testimony. I am often supported by our MACTE leadership, our faculty who are content area experts, and our teacher candidates.
One of the main focus areas this season has been to speak in support of a collection of bills called the Increase Teachers of Color Act (ITCA), which is led by the advocacy of the Minnesota Coalition to Increase Teachers of Color and American Indian Teachers. The ITCA bills have been heard in three committees in the house and one committee in the senate. When I am speaking about our support of the bills, I am speaking about both policy changes and increases in funding appropriation. Even though this is a policy year in Minnesota (we alternate between budget years and policy years), we have a significant budget surplus, so funding requests are included in the bills.
An example of our advocacy was testimony I provided on behalf of MACTE at both House and Senate higher education committee hearings. This testimony was in support of increasing funding to two grant programs: the aspiring teachers of color scholarship grant program and the underrepresented student teachers grant program. I talked about the need for financial support for our teacher candidates and described how student debt is disproportionately higher for BIPOC teachers. I shared how income loss during student teaching is often the biggest barrier to successful program completion for teacher candidates. Many policy and fiscal components from ITCA made it into the state house education omnibus bill in late March. We are still waiting for movement in the state senate. Six short weeks remain in the session, and I will continue to advocate for our MACTE priorities.