Michigan law requires teachers to be state-certified before theyre 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 majoredor even minoredin the subjects theyre currently teaching.
By contrast, many otherwise knowledgeable and qualified individuals who would love to
teachincluding business professionals with years of experienceare barred from
the classroom simply because they dont 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.