COLUMN: Adding skills to our classrooms will build Michigan’s future

Categories: Griffin News,News

By State Rep. Beth Griffin

As a teacher, I’m aware of the unique day-to-day challenges we face in our classrooms.

Regardless of subject, our instructors have to focus on specific content while also seeking to cover as much subject matter as possible to help students grow and prepare for their next educational step. Current curriculum standards are inflexible, emphasizing reporting and test scores over student growth. It also practically ignores skilled trades, reinforcing the outdated idea that it’s a four-year college degree or bust.

That’s why I supported a four-bill bipartisan plan, recently signed into law, to expand age-appropriate skilled trade-oriented instruction in K-12 classrooms while continuing to open pathways to career and technical education.

Today’s children need to know about the professions and the tradespeople who are already doing the work that is rebuilding and redefining Michigan as a destination state. Not all students have the same interests, so we must give them more options to explore well-paying careers, help schools enhance their program offerings, and address increasing demand in skilled trade professions.

We’re not placing another mandate on our teachers or local schools. It’s an opportunity to diversify education without adding courses.

By incorporating career-learning themes at each grade level through core instruction, we will increase awareness of career opportunities while helping students decide on their future after high school.

By allowing our current teachers to get professional development credit for working with area job providers, we are adding opportunities for more localized and hands-on applications for classroom work.

And by expanding the scope for skilled trade instructors, we’ll get more licensed and experienced professionals in our classrooms to help give our children more educational options.

These new laws will benefit Michigan today and in the future, giving our teachers added tools for instruction. Most importantly, we’re giving students more opportunities beyond the classroom.

Beth Griffin is the state representative for the 66th District, which includes all of Van Buren County, and Alamo Township, Cooper Township and the city of Parchment in Kalamazoo County.