Beth Bowen
for MI State Representative

Issues: Public Education

Position Statements

SB 79 and Teaching Certification

Senate Bill 79 seeks to allow schools districts to select anyone to teach in a public school if he/she demonstrates sufficient (as defined in the bill) professional experience in a field. The fields include such basic subjects as math, science, and writing.

This move seeks to address the teacher shortage in our state. However, anyone who has sat through a class with an untrained teacher knows that content knowledge alone is not enough to be a good teacher.

Instead of employing trained and certified teachers in our children’s classrooms, the legislature seeks to circumvent teacher education as a solution to the shortage. Education students are given a large amount of instruction in teaching methods specifically to equip them for teaching children.

Why are we not investing in attracting and training more qualified teachers? We have twelve premier public universities in this state, including my alma mater Central Michigan University—originally a normal school for teaching teachers—that can fill this shortage.

What are the roots of this teacher shortage?

I believe the shortage is a result of many factors including reduced public school funding, reduced pension guarantees for teachers, reduced respect for the teaching profession, the proliferation of charter schools with no oversight, and the prohibitive cost of higher education for a five- to seven-year college career.

Giving school districts the ability to fill positions in creative ways can be seen as increasing local control. However, bypassing the standards of teacher certification could have long-term, unintended, and possibly negative, consequences for our schools and students.

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