Michigan Education Association

Proposal to “fast track” more teachers a disservice to students
Professional educators pan alternative teacher certification plan

EAST LANSING, Mich., July 30, 2009
— Professional educators don’t think a proposal to allow some prospective teachers to earn certification in 15 months or less will help students, according to a new statewide survey conducted by EPIC-MRA. The proposal, known as the “Michigan Non-Traditional Route to Teacher Certification” calls for a “fast track” certification process to increase the number of teachers in Michigan’s primary and secondary schools. The State Board of Education is expected to consider the proposal during its August 11, 2009 meeting.

“This proposal would weaken qualification standards for teachers in Michigan,” said Michigan Education Association President Iris K. Salters. “Michigan’s students deserve to be taught by the best prepared professional educators available. Reducing teacher requirements will reduce teacher quality, a cost the state’s students can ill afford.”

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 58 percent oppose the implementation of the “fast track” certification method
  • 23 percent believe applicants won’t devote enough time to the certification process
  • 19 percent believe applicants won’t have enough subject knowledge
  • 13 percent believe applicants won’t have enough classroom training to be effective
  • Only 9 percent believe there is a shortage of qualified teachers for grades 6-12

“At the heart of the proposal is the perception that there is a teacher shortage in the state. With teachers being laid off statewide, others moving out-of-state to find jobs, and still more in the pipeline ready to graduate from the state’s colleges and universities, that perception seems far from reality,” said Salters. “Perhaps a more effective initiative would be one to identify the qualified teachers who are available and help to match them to districts that need their expertise.”

Opponents to the proposal also cite the preparation needed to become an effective teacher. The state’s current five-year teacher curriculum ensures both subject-matter expertise and preparation in the fundamentals of teaching.

“’Fast track’ teachers might know the subject matter,” Salters said, “but it’s doubtful they’ll be prepared to communicate their knowledge effectively to students.”

The survey was conducted by EPIC-MRA, the highly regarded survey research firm in Lansing, Michigan, during the week of July 19-25, 2009. EPIC-MRA queried 400 active professional educators. The survey had a margin of error of ±4.9%.

Contact:          Ed Sarpolus, MEA Director of Government Affairs, 517-927-9776

 “The mission of the MEA is to ensure that the education of our students and the working environments of our members are of the highest quality.”

Updated: October 26, 2009 11:28 AM