A bill proposed to the Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday could help ease the teacher shortage in Michigan.
Introduced by State Rep. Sheryl Kennedy (D-48-Davison), the bill would allow retired teachers to return to K-12 classrooms as long-term substitute teachers without affecting their pensions or retirement benefits.
“Michigan’s public schools are experiencing a critical shortage in qualified substitute teachers,” Kennedy said in a statement.
The new bipartisan bill, titled House Bill 5497, would remove the current earnings caps for teachers coming out of retirement, as well as allow retired teachers to return to the classroom to substitute teach in as little as 30 days.
Kennedy serves as co-chair of the legislative Educator’s Caucus.
More than 2,500 Michigan classrooms were being taught by a long-term substitute teachers during the 2018-2019 school year, according to an analysis by Bridge Magazine, a tenfold increase in just five years. The substitute teachers are not certified teachers.
Bridge also reported that a 2019 survey showed that just 25 percent of Michigan teachers said they would recommend the industry to young people and that enrollment in Michigan teacher prep programs dropped 70 percent in eight years.
A report released on Monday outlined the three main issues causing the teacher shortage in Michigan: lack of recruitment, poor retention rates, and lack of diversification. It also included a list of 10 recommendations aimed at boosting teacher numbers, including increased pay, a statewide task force and an annual conference to help facilitate communication between teachers and policymakers.
“If we want to ensure our children receive the world-class education they deserve, we should be doing all we can to encourage our most experienced educators to return to the classroom, not turn them away,” Kennedy said.
To read the recently released report on teacher shortages, click here.
– – –