Educators and parents across Minnesota are concerned about new teacher licensure requirements that would require educators to affirm their students’ gender identities and “disrupt oppressive systems.”
Catrin Wigfall with the Center of the American Experiment joined Upper Midwest Law Center attorney James Dickey on his podcast Minnesota Law Weekly to discuss the ramifications of the requirements.
Wigfall, a former elementary and middle school educator, now focuses her career on researching and writing about K-12 education and labor unions in Minnesota.
The proposed requirements come from the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB), whose members are appointed by Gov. Tim Walz. The requirements are expected to go into effect in July 2024.
“They’re not academic, they’re ideological,” Wigfall said.
Among many other requirements, the new rules would require teachers to “affirm and incorporate into a learning environment” their students’ gender identities and sexualities; assess how their own biases “affect their teaching practice and perpetuate oppressive systems;” and understand how white supremacy “undermines pedagogical equity.”
Essentially, Dickey pointed out, the rules would force teachers to “make their classrooms into a groundwork for indoctrination.”
However, it’s unclear whether current teachers would also be required to adhere to the new rules, or if only new teachers would be subject to them, Wigfall explained.
She is concerned that the proposed requirements will “exacerbate the teacher shortage” that Minnesota is already experiencing.
“I think we run the risk of deterring interested, inspired educators from entering the classroom out of fear that they will have to demonstrate a type of ideological litmus test just to serve our students,” she said.