Benson Unveils Proven Plan to Get Kids Back in the Classroom

Roseville, MN – State Senator and Gubernatorial Candidate Michelle Benson made a major

education policy announcement on the campaign trail Friday morning. She announced her plan to get Minnesota school children back in the classroom by tackling several regulatory hurdles that prevent qualified teachers from getting licensed to substitute.

“Parents, teachers, and students have been waiting too long for the Governor to act to get all our kids permanently back in the classroom,” Benson said. “Today I am unveiling my proven back to school plan that will increase the speed and ease to licensing qualified substitute teachers so our schools can be open. We can’t afford to jeopardize our children’s future by being slow to act at this critical moment.”

Benson’s plan would work to increase the pool of short-call substitute teachers so schools could remain open even while the regular full-time teacher may be ill or in quarantine. Many Minnesota schools are struggling to find substitute teachers and as a result, resorting to distance learning. Many other states are making similar efforts to find more qualified substitutes including Utah, Texas, New Mexico, and Louisiana.

The Benson Plan Recommendations

  • Expedite substitute teacher licensing to allow parent volunteers to help in our schools

  • Use federal ARPA funds to cover the processing fee for candidates ($90.25 per applicant)

  • Temporarily waive the requirement to produce college transcripts

  • Expand eligibility to people holding associates degrees

  • Allow teachers with licenses from other states to automatically qualify for a substitute license

  • Use federal ARPA funds to temporarily increase staffing at the licensing agency to expedite processing

  • Provide funds to school districts to conduct background checks for parent volunteers

The plan works to correct the precipitous fall of reading and math scores among Minnesota students during the pandemic and the widening of the achievement gap. Additionally, the plan works to stop the profound mental health effects of distance learning that are known to be doing irreparable harm to our children. Finally, the plan works to improve public safety. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and others have suggested a recent spike in violent crime may be partially a result of remote schooling and therefore the need to get kids in the classroom is paramount.