The next few blogs will present some of my public comments to the Office of Professional Preparation Services, Michigan Department of Education, P. O. Box 30008, Lansing, MI 48909, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Fax: 517-373-0542
I currently serve as the Associate Dean of Teacher Education, Director of the School of Education and professor at Northern Michigan University. These comments represent my views, and the views of many of my colleagues in Michigan with whom I have consulted.
The Michigan Department of Education’s (MDE) Office of Professional Preparation Services (OPPS) is currently conducting public hearings on proposed administrative rules changes to the Teacher Certification Code (2011-018 ED) and the Administrator Certification Code (2011-19 ED). I testified at the public hearing on November 3 in Marquette Michigan, and am adding written comments here. The proposed rules that allow interim teaching certificate without quality assurances, change continuing licensure by eliminating continuing course work and lowering requirements and permit weak and unfair standards for alternative route preparation and certification for school teachers, principals and central office administrators are destructive to quality education in Michigan.
Michigan is in the midst of some of the most dramatic and damaging changes in educational policy that has occurred in this state. These changes are not in the best interest of Michigan and its citizens. This recent policy reform process started with the Michigan passing some laws in an attempt to position Michigan to be selected by the U.S. Department of Education to receive substantial funding as part of Race to the Top (RTTT). It has rapidly accelerated with the new governor, Rick Snyder and his aggressive reform agenda. It is continuing apace with little input or discussion from educators.
On April 27, 2011, Governor Snyder delivered a special message on education reform. In it he stated: “Michigan’s future is absolutely dependent on making our education system a success for our students, our teachers, our parents and our economy” (p. 1). I believe that is true, however, I think it is equally true that Michigan’s future is also dependent on making our political, economic, social and moral systems a success. All of these systems greatly impact education, and, in turn, are affected by education. For example, the political decisions currently being made will harm the ability of teachers and schools to perform their functions in our state, as have the worsening economic, social and moral conditions of our state. Fixing education alone will not solve our problems, but it can go far in creating the foundation for improving all of the other systems.
I also believe in the Governor’s statements: “Change does not have to create adversaries; it can create partners committed to a better future. The vast majority of Michigan educators and teachers are hard-working and committed to a prosperous future for their students” (p. 2). I believe those hard-working and committed educators want to partner with state government to help create a better future and the best education system in the world. I believe I speak on behalf of most educators in that we feel we are being treated as adversaries, not as partners. How has the government created partnerships with educators in its current reform proposals?
We educators take our responsibilities very seriously and want the best for our students and communities. If there are educators or schools who are not fulfilling their duties in a responsible manner, we should work together to either improve them or, if needed, to replace them. There are ineffective teachers and schools that need to be dealt with honestly, responsibly and justly, but to castigate all teachers and schools and jettison the system without sound or justifiable cause is not a wise or judicious use of governmental powers. The proposed educational policy reforms to the certification code are not based on the best we know about education.
I will focus on the current proposals to change the rules to the Michigan Administrator and Teacher Certification Code, for which public hearings are currently being held and public comment accepted until November 30, 2011.