By Shelby Stewart
Brandon Twp.- An area lawmaker is taking aim at bringing more teachers into the school districts.
State Rep. John Reilly (R) 46th District which includes Oxford, Orion, Oakland (partial) Addison, and Brandon townships has introduced two bills to give local schools the opportunity to get experienced professionals into classrooms.
Currently, Oakland County schools are facing shortages of career and technical education-oriented teachers.
“We have professionals in our communities, even out-of-state teachers who can lead our classrooms, but are not allowed because of a piece of paper that has nothing to do with teaching quality,” said Reilly. “That does not help students with the increasing demand for specific and skilled trade courses. We should open the opportunities for these otherwise qualified individuals, setting standards to prepare them for classrooms and leading our children.”
House Bills 5747 and 5748 have been assigned to the House Workforce and Talent Development Committee.
The proposal includes requirements for continued training for these professionals, while also allowing for an interim 3-year teaching certificate.
“There are 29 school superintendents in Oakland County who face that problem and know our students are being shortchanged. This opens a doorway for the students, their families and the professionals interested in sharing their knowledge in a classroom,” said Reilly.
Reilly said Oakland County superintendents support this bill.
“I am excited to see this bill and very thankful for Representative Reilly’s efforts,” said Dr. Matt Outlaw, Brandon school district superintdent. “This is a serious issue for schools. The state and its families are clamoring for more career-technical education courses, yet there are very few teachers that hold the necessary teaching credentials in this area. As our high quality career-technical educators retire, the next generation is not there to fill their shoes. Schools want to offer more, but we have to have the teachers to do this. This bill allows those experts in the field to perhaps help the youth of the next generation without having to go back to school for a four year degree. In the area of career-technical education, this bill is absolute home run for schools.”
Outlaw also believes this will help with the general shortage of high-quality educators that the State is experiencing, since less college students are going into education.
“While not the big-picture solution, bills like this allow for creative ways to access the high-quality teachers that we will need to best serve our students,” he said.
John Martin is an English teacher and Brandon Education Association president. He suggests this is not a big-picture solution.
“Rep. Reilly’s proposal is nothing more than a quick fix for a long term problem,” he said. “The CTE shortage that he is attempting to fix by deregulating teacher requirements is only the tip of the iceberg for long term teacher shortage. The fact of the matter is with the state’s continued under-funding of education, its attempts to dismantle benefits, and the often unreasonable demands placed on teachers, young people are not going into education.”
Martin believes that this proposal will not solve the problem, and that teaching is not just “some piece of paper” as most of them gain masters degrees in their fields.
“Pedagogically speaking, this proposal lacks the logic applied to the development of teacher preparation programs in this state which remain some of the best in the nation,” said Martin. “Our teacher prep programs are designed to prepare teachers to meet the academic, emotional, and developmental needs of every single student. With the diverse range of needs we see in today’s classroom, throwing professionals in a classroom without the preparation to meet the students’ emotional and developmental needs is irresponsible.”
Though all agree that the problem lies within the younger college students not wanting to enter education in the first place.
“The bottom line of Reilly’s proposal acknowledges one thing: We can not attract people into teaching as a long term permanent career without compensating them in a way that is at the very least competitive with the private sector,” said Martin. “The answer will most certainly involve investing in our children, in their futures, and for some, allowing them to see teaching as a viable career for their own future.”