Gov. Whitmer Signs Bill Removing Certification Requirement for Substitute Teachers

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By Doug Marrin, STN Reporter

Governor Whitmer signed House Bill 4294 to address the substitute teacher shortage, helping keep schools open and students learning in person. The legislation temporarily allows trusted staff members such as secretaries, paraprofessionals, and others to work as substitute teachers until the end of the current school year.

Next to hospital care, nothing has been more strained during the pandemic than education. Along with worries such as correctly implementing safety precaution guidelines, school administrators have scrambled to find enough educators to staff their buildings. A spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association, David Crim, explains the startling circumstances behind the teacher shortage.

Crim points out in a WXYZ article that at the end of the 2020-2021 school year, teacher retirements increased 40 percent from the year before. Crim adds, “Colleges and universities that have teacher preparation programs, enrollment is down 50-60 percent, so we are producing half as many teachers.”

This situation has dramatically increased the demand for substitute teachers, but there are not nearly enough subs to fill the need. To help remedy the educator shortage, State Representative Brad Paquette (R-78) introduced House Bill 4294. The legislation temporarily allows schools to utilize a current employee without teaching certification to substitute teach through the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

The final version of Bill 4294 passed 55 to 48 in the State House on December 14, 2021. Sun Times News area State Representative votes were as follows: Yes-Bollin (R). No-Brabec (D), Hope (D), Lasinski (D), Rabhi (D).

Bill 4294 passed 12 to 13 in the State Senate on the same day. Area Senator votes were: Yes-Theis (R), Hertel (D), Irwin (D). No-none.

Governor Whitmer signed the Bill on December 27.

"Making sure every child in Michigan has access to a high-quality public education is my top priority, which is why this year we made the largest investment in K-12 public schools in Michigan history without raising taxes," said Governor Whitmer. "The pandemic has been challenging for our children, teachers, and parents, and our educators have gone above and beyond to ensure Michigan's children have a bright future. Allowing schools to employ school staff that students know as substitute teachers will help keep school doors open and students learning in the classroom the rest of the school year. I am committed to working with the legislature to develop high-quality solutions to address these staff shortages long-term so that we can ensure that every child is able to access a quality education."

"Michigan already faced a severe educator shortage prior to the coronavirus pandemic", said Paul Liabenow, Executive Director of the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA). "The pandemic has only exacerbated that shortage by further hindering school districts' abilities to fill vacant positions and keep buildings open, placing undue stress on educators already working tirelessly every day to ensure all students in Michigan receive quality, in-person instruction. House Bill 4294 will provide districts with additional flexibility to fill substitute teaching vacancies so students can continue to learn in a safe, supportive environment. On behalf of educational leaders throughout Michigan, we want to thank Governor Gretchen Whitmer and Representative Brad Paquette for their continued advocacy on behalf of educators and students throughout Michigan."

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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