Reconsidering rhetoric

(From MPR’s Tim Pugmire)

The chair of the House Education Reform Committee is apologizing today for her use of the word “Gestapo” to criticize a teacher training proposal.

Officials with the statewide teachers union Education Minnesota said Tuesday they would support an alternative licensing program if participants were kept under close supervision for 90 days. Republican Representative Sondra Erickson of Princeton told MPR news she thought that requirement sounded like the “teacher Gestapo.” Erickson, who’s a retired teacher, says her word choice was inappropriate.

Here’s the segment of the story that caused the problem:

Education Minnesota is also proposing a new system to annually review the job performance of teachers throughout the state.

Republican leaders in the House and Senate are moving quickly on an alternative licensure bill. An initial hearing is scheduled Thursday.

Rep. Sondra Erickson, R-Princeton, who chairs the House Education Reform Committee, said she thinks Education Minnesota shares many of her goals when it comes to alternative licensure. But Erickson said she doesn’t like the 90 days of supervision.

“It sounds like the teacher Gestapo to me. I think that if a candidate comes out of one of these programs, he or she is going to be well-prepared to be in the classroom,” said Erickson. “If a district has decided that candidate should be in the classroom, I’m not sure why we would need that Gestapo at work, and I would like to visit with them about that.”

“My apologies to everyone out there. I certainly didn’t intend to cast dispersions [sic] on my profession. I love my profession. I think the world of teachers. I guess I just have a little problem with the unions demands, and we’ll work that out.”

The head of the Minnesota AFL-CIO and many educators were publicly demanding the apology. Erickson’s committee is scheduled to hear two alternative licensing bills on Thursday.