Friday, September 30, 2016

MN teacher licensing reform group breaks from national

MN teacher licensing reform group breaks from national:
Group pushing Minnesota teacher licensing reform breaks from national backer
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An education reform group pushing to overhaul Minnesota’s teacher licensing system plans to break away from its national parent organization.
The Minnesota Campaign for Achievement Now, or MinnCAN, will close up shop Friday and re-emerge next week as Ed Allies. MinnCAN is part of the national 50CAN network, which recently decided itself to step back from its work in Minnesota to focus on other priorities.
Daniel Sellers, who led MinnCAN until July when he left to work on the new venture, will head Ed Allies. Most of MinnCAN’s existing staff will join him, and most of MinnCAN’s local funders plan to support the new organization. 

“This work is about people and about relationships,” Sellers said. “When I go talk to legislators, they don’t care what name is on my lapel.”


The new autonomy will help Ed Allies as it continues much of MinnCAN’s work and partners with other local education reform advocates, Sellers said.

Al Fan, executive director of the Minnesota Comeback, said philanthropies that fund education efforts are increasingly focused on local groups that will have a “collective impact.” The Minnesota Comeback is a new coalition working to create 30,000 “rigorous, relevant” classroom seats in Minneapolis by 2025.
“The idea is to collaborate more closely around shared goals and initiatives,” Fan said. “We all want to row in the same direction.”
There has been turnover in the education lobbying groups working at the Capitol in St. Paul and across the state.
Earlier this year, Parents United for Public Schools dissolved after more than a decade of work. In 2014, Students First, a reform group founded by the controversial former Washington, D.C., schools leader Michelle Rhee, pulled out of Minnesota.
Meanwhile in April, a national group called the Partnership for Educational Justice backed a lawsuit from four Minnesota parents that challenges Minnesota’s teachers union protections. The organization also supports a similar ongoing case in New York and one that was defeated in California.


In this Friday, April 26, 2013 photo provided by Education Minnesota, Denise Specht speaks to union members at the Education Minnesota Representative Convention in Bloomington, Minn. Specht, currently secretary-treasurer of Education Minnesota, was elected president of the state's teachers union on Saturday, defeating current president Tom Dooher. Specht begins her three-year term as president July 1. (AP Photo/Education Minnesota, Janet Hostetter)
Education Minnesota President Denise Specht (AP Photo/Education Minnesota, Janet Hostetter)

Denise Specht, president of state teachers union Education Minnesota, has been critical of national education reform groups like 50CAN, saying they try to impose narrow national agendas on local policy decisions.
“The best ideas for schools come from students, educators and parents, not the handful of billionaires behind these networks,” Specht said. “… Meaningful change to public schools requires experience, knowledge, passion and years of commitment.”
Vallay Varro, who founded MinnCAN and is now president of 50CAN, said her organization prides itself on the local leadership of individual chapters. The national group is pulling out of Minnesota because there are enough local groups to carry on the work, Varro said.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., 50CAN is active in 10 states including Minnesota. It receives funding from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the Walton Family Foundation and other education reform-minded groups.


MinnCAN came to Minnesota in 2011. The organization’s most recent annual budget was $1.2 million, and it receives funding from local philanthropies like the St. Paul Foundation, 3M, the Bush Foundation and Ecolab.
MinnCAN has lobbied the Legislature about teacher and principal evaluations, preschool scholarships, improvements to charter schools and other issues.
Sellers and other MinnCAN staffers were some of the most vocal advocates for overhauling Minnesota’s highly criticized teacher licensing systems. The organization supported a lawsuit against the Minnesota Board of Teaching that alleges out-of-state educators were denied licenses for unfair and arbitrary reasons.
Ed Allies plans to continue working on many of the same issues MinnCAN supported. “We won’t miss a beat,” Sellers said.MN teacher licensing reform group breaks from national:



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