Recently it was reported that our state representative Ben Frederick voted to change requirements for teacher certification in the state of Michigan. Frederick supported House Bill 4084, which eliminates two requirements to become a teacher. While his reasoning may seem sound at first glance, a little investigation on official websites leads me to believe this change is a bad idea.
The first requirement to go was the need for an additional course in reading because it was “excessive” and a “burden.” The requirement of three to six credit hours of college classes needed to get your first certification is in how to teach reading. The three-hour class Frederick eliminated covered “diagnosis and remediation” of reading problems. These are related but different topics. A very simplified analogy might be if an auto mechanic trainee learned how to change your oil but not how to find and repair an oil leak. Both skills are essential. This critical class was part of the certification renewal process at the end of five years of teaching.
Add to this that last year less than 50 percent of our 8th-graders tested “proficient” in Language Arts and some 20 percent were seriously deficient. Obviously Michigan children still need help in reading and writing as they move into high school. Eliminating professional development in this area can only make the problem worse.
When you consider this bill, as well as other acts by our state government, including efforts to limit teacher benefits and funneling of funds away from our public schools, one has to wonder what the motivation of our legislators, including Mr. Frederick, really is. Is it the betterment of our public education system and the well being of our children?
Ann Arwin, Corunna