Deadline Detroit | Educators concerned that uncertified district workers can now be substitute teachers

Teachers and their union are concerned about a new law allowing Michigan districts to reassign school support workers as substitute teachers. The state attorney general too.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who signed the temporary legislation on Monday, said the policy change would keep schools open and allow students to learn from instructors they already know. The measure, which allows any district employee with a high school diploma to apply to replace certified teachers, expires at the end of the 2021-2022 school year in June.

The governor said she was “committed to working with the legislature to develop high-quality solutions to address these long-term staff shortages so that we can ensure that every child can access a quality education.” Michigan Radio reports.

The Ann Arbor-based public radio group also cites Thomas Morgan of a state teachers’ union, who suggests that a high salary would be a better answer in addressing classroom shortages.

“We don’t ask trained and qualified teachers to drive 45ft long school buses, so why are we asking trained and qualified bus drivers to lead a classroom full of kids to teach geometry in fifth year ? The two things just don’t work. t go together, “said Morgan, MEA [Michigan Education Association] spokesperson.

Dana Nessel, a Democratic ally of the governor who was also elected in 2018, voiced a concern shared by educators on Tuesday:

School employees are also reacting on Twitter.

“Worst decision,” notes Denise Naeyaert, social worker at Ingham Intermediate School Distict since 1999. “These individuals are not able to teach students. Another blow to the importance and training of teachers. I support the governor. , but there have been a lot of questionable decisions lately. “

“Don’t people realize that we also have huge shortages in parapro, food service and bus driver positions?” asks a “proud public school teacher”, tweeting as @RedWingLion.

Monday update from December 15th post below:

If they have graduated from high school, employees of the Michigan Public School District can replace substitute teachers until next June.

(Photo: Detroit Public School Community District)

The governor on Monday signed legislation introduced by Republicans that will allow administrative staff, bus drivers, cafeteria workers and others to make up for a shortage of certified educators to fill gaps in classrooms, Detroit News Lansing reports:

Normally, state law requires schools to hire occasional teachers who have at least 60 semester hours of college credit. The bill allows districts, for the current school year only, to hire any school employee as a replacement as long as the person has a high school diploma.

“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,” Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press release quoted by the newspaper.

The Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators supports policy relaxation. The teachers’ unions and the state education ministry are opposed.

The News quotes the godfather of the law, Rep. Brad Paquette, R-Niles, in a committee hearing this month: not able to run a classroom. I received more wisdom in my high school years from the lunch lady than any of my … teachers. “

Two Michigan teachers react on Twitter on Monday:

Original cover, December 15:

“Hello, class. Instead of driving a school bus today, I am your substitute teacher.”

This public school introduction could become a reality in Michigan under a recently passed Republican-sponsored law – if the governor signs it.

(Screen capture:

The unusual bill would allow academic support staff, including cafeteria employees, to temporarily serve as substitute teachers, even without any college credit. An aide to Governor Gretchen Whitmer did not respond to a Michigan Bridge investigating whether it will let it become law.

If she signs, school staff who want to replace teaching this school year only need a high school diploma or equivalency certificate. This is a temporary reprieve from the requirement that substitute teachers have an associate degree, 60 college credits or, in the case of vocational and technical courses, subject matter expertise. Substitutes who are not school staff should still meet these requirements.

Districts have long struggled to find enough substitute teachers, but the problem worsened during the pandemic when many teachers retired and those who remain are sometimes forced to self-quarantine due to the disease. exposure to the coronavirus. … Before the pandemic, substitute teachers in Michigan were typically paid $ 80 to $ 85 per day, but some districts are now offering much more.

The passage to the Senate took place Tuesday evening [Dec. 14] on a 23-13 vote. Four Democrats, including Sens. Sylvia Santana of Detroit and Jeff Irwin of Ann Arbor crossed party lines to vote yes.

A Republican from Traverse City and one from Traverse City joined most Democrats in voting against the idea. “You kind of play musical chairs with critical school employees,” says Senator Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, a former teacher.

Members of the House voted 55-48 in favor, with Rep. Jewell Jones of Inkster being the only Democrat to join Republicans on the majority side.

Senator Erika Geiss: “This is a staffing simulation game. (Photo: Facebook)

One Senate critic, part-time educator Erika Geiss of Taylor, said the change would erode education and increase shortages of non-classroom staff. Senator Geiss has been an adjunct faculty member at Wayne County Community College District since 2013. Bridge extracts her speech from Tuesday:

“This is an endowment simulation game. There is also no guarantee that the replacement will teach our children the content they are there to learn.

“Staff who are not educators are great people. They are valued and hardworking members of our school communities, but for the most part – especially when we have a situation where a long-term replacement might be needed – they are not the ones who should be taking over from teaching. “

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