Minnesota should keep teacher basic skills test

If a non-native English speaker working in a language immersion program at a Minnesota school has trouble passing a basic skills test for teachers, we can understand the desire to find a way around that issue. Passing a reading, writing and math test in English could be a formidable and unnecessary obstacle.

The same does not apply to most of those seeking to teach in Minnesota classrooms. They should continue to have to show competency in all the basic skills. That is why the state has been increasing the rigor of its test in recent years and why there is no more “grace period” for prospective teachers failing to do so.

Despite what seems an obvious goal – high expectations for teachers – an education task force, with notable dissent, has recommended doing away with the test. The majority wants to put the onus on colleges and universities to train teachers and assess their readiness. Any higher level licensing by the state would fade away, or be a license in name only.

Any honest appraisal of public entities, including public schools, would not conclude with the notion that things are too hard for those involved, including teachers and students. It is always better to demand more, to push quality and – at the very least – to ensure basic competency. State lawmakers should reject any notion of eliminating the basic skills test for teachers.