A package of bills introduced last week by Michigan Senate Democrats aims to help alleviate the teacher shortage being felt across the state.
Led by Sens. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia) and Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids), the legislation includes stipends and other financial support for student teachers as well as bills designed to encourage new teacher recruitment.
“My Democratic colleagues and I are dedicated to fighting this teacher shortage in Michigan and doing what’s right for our kids for generations to come,” Brinks said in a press release. “By supporting new teachers and recruiting new prospects to the field as part of a future-focused strategy, we can strengthen our schools and empower our teachers to do what they do best.”
A February 2020 report released by the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said Michigan’s ability to provide skilled teachers and support professionals to every student had been undercut by a “marked decline in the number of aspiring educators, mounting departures by experienced and early-career educators, and an educator workforce that lacks diversity.”
Statistically, that was seen in a nearly 25% decline in newly issued teacher certificates between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 school years, according to the MEA report.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated that problem, with teacher retirements exceeding the pace of recruitment.
“Michigan’s teacher shortage is getting worse by the day, and it won’t go away unless we get proactive about recruiting and retaining excellent educators,” Polehanki said in a prepared statement. “These bills will go a long way toward ensuring our hardworking teachers can stay in the profession long-term, so our students can have the world-class education they deserve at every level.”
The legislation in the package includes:
- The Student Teacher Stipend Act, which was introduced by Polehanki and would provide a student teacher stipend up to $9,600 in total for service as a student teacher.
- Senate Joint Resolution Q, introduced by Polehanki, would eliminate higher education funding from the School Aid Fund.
- Senate Bill 1092, introduced by Brinks, would create a grant program to reimburse student teachers for the cost of childcare during their service by up to $10,000.
- Senate Bill 1095, introduced by Brinks, would provide a grant program to pay for the cost of teacher professional development that is required with teacher certification.
- Senate Bill 1096, introduced by Sen. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit), would expand support for new teachers to provide coaching and a support system for teachers in their first three years of service.
- Senate Bill 1098, introduced by Sen. Rosemary Bayer (D-Beverly Hills), would establish a loan repayment program for recently certified college graduates who commit to teaching, hold a valid teaching certificate, and are employed in a school.
- Senate Bill 1097, introduced by Sen. Paul Wojno (D-Warren), would eliminate the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification requirement for out-of-state teachers with three years of successful performance evaluations in their previous state.
- Senate Bill 1100, introduced by Sen. Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), would create a no-cost pathway for support staff members to become certified teachers.
- Senate Bill 1099, introduced by Sen. Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield), would establish a grant program for districts to provide hands-on learning experiences in grades six through 12 to encourage students to consider a career in education.
- Senate Bill 1093, introduced by Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor), would repeal P.A. 53 of 2012, which prohibits school districts from collecting union dues or fees via payroll deduction.
- Senate Bill 1101, introduced by Sen. Jim Ananich (D-Flint), would eliminate cost sharing of unfunded actuarial accrued liabilities.
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