State proposal would allow 18-year-olds to substitute teach in Michigan

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A newly introduced Bill would allow 18- and 21-year-olds to substitute teach, with little to no college credit.

The current status quo for subs in Michigan is completion of a minimum 60 college credit hours, but if House Bill 4549 is passed, anyone 21 and older can substitute teach, as long as they have a high school diploma.

Also proposed under the Bill, anyone aged 18 and over could fill a substitute teaching position for kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms if they’re enrolled in a teacher preparation program. The law would be effective until the end of June 2025.

The Bill, sponsored by State Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights), was introduced as a potential solution to Michigan’s teacher shortage, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Michigan Education Association has yet to take a stance on the legislation. Spokesperson Thomas Morgan said there’s concern regarding the lack of education requirements outlined in the Bill.

“If we’re taking someone who’s 21 years old and just has 60 college credits, or no college credits, and asking them to lead a classroom of 18 and 19-year-olds, there’s potential for issues there,” he said.

However, Morgan said there is some support for people in teacher preparation programs working as substitute teachers, because of the practical work experience it would provide, in addition to making up for the shortage of teachers.

While other adjustments have already been made in an attempt to fill in the gaps - such as allowing school support staff, like bus drivers, the opportunity to sub - Morgan said they’re only a band-aid on a much larger issue.

“Long term we need to pay teachers more,” he said. “We need to listen to their voices, and we need to respect them as professionals.”

The Bill has been handed over to the House Education Committee for further consideration.

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