Minnesota’s proposed teacher licensing standards would leave religious educators in a quandary between their faith and their jobs.
The standards, which are in the final stages of approval, include the following paragraph:
“The teacher fosters an environment that ensures student identities such as race/ethnicity, national origin, language, sex and gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical/developmental/emotional ability, socioeconomic class, and religious beliefs are historically and socially contextualized, affirmed, and incorporated into a learning environment where students are empowered to learn and contribute as their whole selves.”
If passed, these standards could deny teaching licenses to those whose religion distinguishes between biological sexes.
“We have lots of parents who are upset by this sort of thing in schools already,” Doug Seaton, president of Upper Midwest Law Center (UMLC), told The Federalist. “They’re going to be even more upset with how their teachers are going to be licensed. Their teachers are going to have to be faced with hiding their beliefs or getting denied.”
UMLC’s mission is “to limit governmental, special interest, and public union overreach and uses the rule of law to protect liberties of citizens in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.”
Seaton also expected the standards to be challenged in court.
In August, he filed a complaint with a state judge, claiming the standards were unconstitutional.
“The proposed rules impose an ideological litmus test on those who wish to serve Minnesota’s public-school children as teachers,” argued Seaton. “This ‘compelled speech’ violates the most basic provisions of our U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.”
He alleged the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB) “has made it impossible for those practicing orthodox Christianity and Judaism, as just two examples, to freely exercise their religion and simultaneously hold a teaching license.
“It establishes the PELSB’s view of human sexuality and gender as orthodoxy despite sincere opposition based on biological reality and traditional orthodox theistic beliefs,” Seaton concluded.
In the meantime, while state lawmakers debate “hair discrimination,” the quality of Minnesota’s public education continues to decline.
Between 2019 and 2022, the number of students proficient in math dropped 10%. Reading proficiency dropped 8%.
Minnesota’s latest teacher recruitment program also performed badly. Not even $5,000 in hiring and retention bonuses could entice minority educators to teach in Minnesota.
If otherwise qualified educators are rejected on the basis of their religion, one can only wonder what the consequences will be for Minnesota’s public school system – and students.