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Gov. Snyder To Outline New Teaching Requirements

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(AP Photo/The Detroit News, Dale G. Young)

(AP Photo/The Detroit News, Dale G. Young)

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Gov. Rick Snyder plans Wednesday to propose tougher education requirements new Michigan teachers must meet before they can serve in the classroom.

The Republican governor will announce the proposal Wednesday morning in an address on improving education from preschool through college at the United Way for Southeastern Michigan office in Detroit.

“We’re producing a lot of teachers, way more than what Michigan needs. We can move the bar up,” Snyder senior adviser Bill Rustem told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “It’s going to be tougher standards for teachers.”

Under Snyder’s proposal, education majors would have to pass their basic skills and subject matter tests before they could do their student teaching. Now, they can take the tests after they student teach.

The governor also would like the Michigan universities that offer teaching degrees to require more instruction and student teaching time, as the University of Michigan and Michigan State University now do. Both schools put education majors through five years of classes and student teaching before they’re awarded a degree.

Education majors also would have to get higher scores on their certification tests in order to be allowed to teach. Illinois and Indiana have raised the level students must achieve to pass, and Snyder wants Michigan to do the same.

Other changes he plans to propose will involve giving excellent teachers more pay and other rewards so they can remain in teaching rather than going into administration to make more money. Top teachers would be designated as master teachers with responsibilities for mentoring new teachers and improving student learning.

Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education, said five years ago her university began to focus more on teaching students how to succeed in the classroom rather than just know their subject matter and be able to pass college tests.

“We’re concerned with making sure that teachers can actually teach particular math concepts, can actually do guided reading with young people, can help remediate problems that kids are having, that they can manage their classroom,” Ball said.

Some responsibilities for improving the quality of education will fall on universities, which also will be responsible for helping education majors who fail to meet the new standards.

The Michigan Department of Education and State Board of Education will be responsible for raising the cutoff scores for certification and setting new requirements for education colleges to meet.

State Board of Education member John Austin, a Democrat, said the board is encouraged that the Republican governor wants to make sure the best possible teachers are in Michigan’s classrooms.

Austin said the state needs to have excellent teachers “who can help these kids meet these challenging standards.”

“If we want to set these bars … the main thing we need to do is support, reward and provide the tools and the training for great teaching,” he said.

Snyder’s education address will be similar to one he gave last month on changes he wants to see local governments embrace, including getting workers to pay more for benefits and finding more operating efficiencies. State lawmakers will get copies of his plan as he gives it.

The governor told educators Monday that Michigan must do a much better job of preparing students for college and then making sure they get college degrees.

He’s expected to call Wednesday for giving students more ways to learn such as online classes, and for having more flexibility in the school calendar.

He also wants to change the way teacher tenure is awarded and make sure teachers are continually evaluated so ineffective teachers can be helped to improve or removed from the classroom. 

Southfield School Board President Darryl Buchanan hopes Lansing will avoid a one-size-fits-all solution.

“They’re not really giving in to differentiated instruction. You need to approach each child as they come to you, there is no cookie cutter solution to education,” Buchanan said.

Warren Consolidate Schools Superintendent Robert Livernois wonders how all these changes are going to square with the budget.

“To think that an abrupt change is coming on the heels of, in my case, having reduced budgets for the last 13 years, it can be pretty cataclysmic if we’re not careful,” Livernois said.

Proposed budget cuts from Lansing have been described by local school officials as a fiscal “tsunami.”

On the WWJ Listener Line at 248-455-7230, callers say the problems are not as much from teachers and schools as they are from students and homes.

“There are a lot of single moms raising kids. There are kids who are taught that violence is the only answer. There are too many problems in the family structure in Detroit,” said one caller.

“Parents need to start taking an active role and stop expecting teachers to raise their children,” commented another caller.

Some callers think the teachers and schools need to instill stronger disciplinary actions.

“Expel the trouble makers in the schools. One bad student can hold back 35 good ones,” one caller said.

“I’m anxious to see what Governor Snyder says about the tenure issue because there are a lot of crappy teachers out there who are holding down jobs just because they’re teachers with tenure. We need to get rid of them and get quality teachers in there,” another caller commented.

How do you feel about the state of today’s school districts and teachers? What would you like to see the Gov. change? Leave us your comments below.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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