A recent poll reports that an overwhelming number of residents in Michigan agree they prefer having certified teachers in classrooms that also have relevant experience in the subject area they are instructing in.
The poll was reported by Bridge Michigan earlier this month.
With the number of school districts now making use of long-term substitutes on the rise, the poll also found that most residents across the state would like to see classroom standards raised.
Currently, substitutes are only required to have completed 60 college credit hours, which equates to roughly half of the studies needed to qualify for a formal teaching degree.
“Making those requirements – that's a good first step,” Dr. Elizabeth Birr Moje, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education, said in an interview with Bridge. “We need to go back to having those requirements for anybody who's entering a classroom and working with children.”
With almost 90 percent of all residents polled, direct data shows most want the state to require formal teacher training before long-term subs step into a classroom, and nearly 80 percent agreed that a bachelor’s degree and/or work experience relevant to the subject should be required.
But even as the debate rages, an expert with Mackinac Center for Public Policy points out just because a teacher lacks public certification doesn’t necessarily mean they lack training.
“Every worker in every occupation needs some type of training,” Jarrett Skorup, the director of marketing and communications, said in a blog post. “But, most of the time, the employer has a better sense of what trainings, courses or experience makes sense for the job. Schools are no different.”
Skorup also pointed out in his blog post that there isn't much evidence to support that mandatory certification results in better teachers.
"Consider the fact that there are thousands of teachers in Michigan who are not required to be certified, and there is no evidence they do a worse job," he wrote. "That includes private school teachers, Teach for America, some specialty subject area teachers and homeschooling parents."