Professionals with real-world experience should be allowed to teach STEM classes

Published 8:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2015

I have long supported an increased focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education in our schools, because these robust areas of study are critical to the future of our nation and in preparing future generations for success.

These fields are some of the most rigorous education paths a person can take.

We need to support children who desire to become scientists, engineers and mathematicians. It is vital to important industries, such as defense and automotive industries, that we have bright minds entering these fields.

Unfortunately, Michigan has a shortage of teachers in these subjects.

I co-sponsored legislation recently approved by the Michigan Senate that would make it easier for professionals with expertise in certain fields to become effective classroom teachers.

Allowing mid-career professionals with deep, practical knowledge of a subject area to teach would fill a need for STEM instructors and give students an invaluable, first-hand perspective on what they are studying.

Senate Bill 491 would allow school districts to hire a professional without a teaching certificate to teach as long as certain criteria are met. Under the bill, the new teachers would still be required to pass the basic skills test (called the Professional Readiness Examination) and any applicable subject area tests and also work toward a teaching certificate.

The bill would allow professionals without teaching certificates to teach certain fields if they had, in the previous seven years, at least five years of occupational experience in that field.

We’ve achieved much to build a stronger, more vibrant Michigan. More than 420,000 private sector jobs have been created in less than five years and unemployment has been reduced by nearly two-thirds to 5 percent.

Helping bring professionals with real-world experience into the classroom is part of an ongoing effort to ensure all students are given the education they need to be successful, obtain a well-paying job and contribute to Michigan’s future.


Sen. John Proos, R-St. Joseph, represents Southwest Michigan.