Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer on Monday signed legislation that aims to limit the state’s substitute teacher shortage.
House Bill 4294, sponsored by State Representative Brad Paquette (R-Niles), will allow certain school staff members, like secretaries, to fill open substitute teacher positions through the end of the current school year.
Supporters of the legislation argue the added measures will allow Michigan schools to remain open.
“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.”
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, different business sectors, including education, have faced labor shortages. The nationwide shortages have led officials in other states to enact similar measures.
“Michigan already faced a severe educator shortage prior to the coronavirus pandemic”, added 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.”
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