Michigan law requires teachers to be state-certified before they’re allowed to teach in a public school. But is teacher certification the same thing as teacher qualification? The evidence suggests no.

To become certified, prospective teachers in Michigan and many other states must take years of education courses in college, where they learn a lot about educational theory at the expense of learning more about the academic subjects they will teach in the classroom.

The U. S. Department of Education found that 36 percent of all public school teachers never majored—or even minored—in the subjects they’re currently teaching.

By contrast, many otherwise knowledgeable and qualified individuals who would love to teach—including business professionals with years of experience—are barred from the classroom simply because they don’t have a state certificate.

Research also shows that schools that are not required to use certified teachers, including the majority of private and home schools, achieve student performance equal to or better than traditional public schools.

Next to parental involvement, teacher quality is the most important factor in students’ academic success. Michigan should loosen its rigid teacher certification requirements so schools have access to, and children can learn from, a larger and more diverse pool of effective educators.

For the Mackinac Center, this is Catherine Martin.

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