ST. PAUL (AP) — Legislation to create new pathways into the teaching profession has passed the Minnesota Senate.

The bill was approved on a 40-23 vote Thursday, with three Democrats joining the chamber's Republican majority in support.

The proposal would make teaching easier for those who don't meet traditional state licensing requirements but have alternative qualifications. It would allow the state to issue provisional teacher licenses and help the Teach for America program place more recent college graduates as teachers in low-income schools.

Republican Sen. Gen Olson of Minnetrista says the proposal would help close the achievement gap between white students and racial minorities.

The Education Minnesota teachers union opposes the bill.

A companion bill is on the move through the House.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.