Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4294 on Monday (Dec. 27) to address the current substitute teacher shortage. The bill will allow school staff members such as secretaries, paraprofessionals and other workers to serve as substitute teachers through the end of the current school year for 2021-2022.
“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,” Governor Whitmer said in a statement.
She added, “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.”
The governor’s office added that the goal of House Bill 4294 is to keep schools open and students learning in person.
“Michigan already faced a severe educator shortage prior to the coronavirus pandemic,” Paul Liabenow, executive director of the Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association (MEMSPA), said in a statement. “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.”
He added, “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.”
Rep. Brad Paquette, R – Niles, sponsored the bill. Find a full copy of the Michigan bill here.