With schools across Michigan facing a substitute teacher shortage, school districts and lawmakers are scrambling to find a solution for the shortfall.
It is an ongoing issue across the state, but came to the forefront with complaints at Mid-Michigan schools.
“Oh, it’s an ongoing problem. It’s been getting worse over the past couple of years,” said Frank Burger, teacher with Carman-Ainsworth High School and a member of the teachers’ union.
Burger said the lack of substitutes is a common issue in Mid-Michigan without an easy solution.
“There are times when we don’t have these at all in our district,” Burger said. “Which means regular teachers have to step up and then they don’t get to do the regular planning sessions.”
Burger said at his high school alone there are more than a half dozen teachers out on Friday with no one to cover for them. He said the burden then falls on everyone else.
He said not only does the substitute teacher shortage affect lesson plans, but it affects students as well.
“When you have a different sub in there all day long, it’s going to make a difference to the students,” Burger said.
Lawmakers in Lansing are taking notice.
Currently, students need 90 college credit hours before becoming a sub.
A bill currently in the State Senate would cut it down to 60 hours.
Burger said that’s not necessarily the right move.
“It’s not going to fix the problem because then you’re going to have people in there that don’t necessarily have the right credentials and maybe shouldn’t be teaching children,” Burger said.
Burger said if you raise the rates more qualified people will step up. Substitutes in Michigan get paid between $85 and $100 per day.
“I’m glad that Lansing is working on trying to help with the substitute teacher shortage, but the problem is Lansing doesn’t like coming here and talk to the actual teachers and looking at the real problems,” Burger said.
The most recent study on the substitute teacher shortage shows in 2015 for every 100 classrooms in Michigan that needed a sub, only 85 could find one.
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