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Minnetonka Parents Rally For Immersion Teachers

Patch Poll Results: As parents of Spanish and Chinese immersion students worry about the future of the programs, they look to state legislators for help.

Parents of Minnetonka immersion students are still looking for a new decision on basic skills tests for immersion teachers and hope for some changes at the state legislature.

all teachers to pass a basic skills test before teaching in public schools.

However, some parents believe the level of English proficiency required in the test for Chinese and Spanish immersion teachers is impractical.

"One of the goals of our immersion program is to hire teachers with native-level fluency in the immersion language," commented one parent.

Sen. Terri Bonoff (DFL-Minnetonka) has introduced legislation giving immersion school teachers who already have a provisional license until 2014 to pass the exam.

"The last thing we want to do is penalize these outstanding students, teachers and programs because of an unintended consequence of the law," Bonoff told the Star Tribune.

In the House, Rep. Connie Doepke (R-Minnetrista) introduced a bill that would grant the extension for all teachers who have a provisional license.

On April 2, the House passed an amendment that applies only to current immersion teachers, inhibiting the ability to hire new immersion staff for 2012-2013. To some parents of immersion students, this would be just a "partial fix." For this amendment to become law, it needs to first be passed by the Senate.

Without an amendment to the law, 400 teachers who are already teaching will have to pass the test before going back to the classroom next school year. Another 1,100 "hopeful" teachers have failed the test and have license applications pending, according to the Star Tribune.

Public school teachers were already required to take the basic skills test but did not have to pass before they began teaching. Under the old law, teachers who failed the test could get a three-year provisional license that allowed them to teach while trying to get a passing score. The teacher licensing exams are currently only offered in English.

The new law requiring all public school teachers to pass the test before they can teach took effect in late February.

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