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Michigan bill would let college students lead classrooms -- alone

teacher standing in front of class with large monitor
Steve Riot
/
Pixabay

College students pursuing education degrees could teach in classrooms of their own — without a certified teacher there to supervise — under a bill proposed by a Michigan state representative.

Republican Rep. Pamela Hornberger, chair of the House Education Committee, proposed a bill Tuesday that would allow the students to lead their own classrooms.

"This bill is just one more option for our local schools to consider in providing an education to their students and families," said Hornberger.

The bill would not require education students to take the postings, and it would not require districts to hire college students if they do not want to.

Hornberger said the proposed legislation would address Michigan's teacher shortage.

“We’re at the point where we’re voting to put anyone with a pulse and breathing in a classroom to sub," said Hornberger. "We need to do something."

The students would not need to be certified in order to teach. They would sign contracts for up to a year.

The bill differentiates these aspiring teachers from "student teachers." The uncertified teachers allowed under the new bill would be paid for their work, and, unlike when working as a student teacher, the bill would allow them to teach completely on their own, without a mentor present in the room.

Thomas Morgan, a spokesperson for the Michigan Education Association, said the measure would be setting prospective teachers up for failure.

"There’s a lot of pressure and burnout already among student teachers," said Morgan. "We’re concerned that isolating them in classrooms of their own without the right support networks could cause more pressure and potentially cause them to leave the profession before they even start."

Hornberger could not be reached for comment.

Both Morgan and Michigan Department of Education Superintendent Michael Rice called for a focus on recruitment and retention of full-time teachers instead of pulling in college students as long-term substitutes.

"We have to do better with support for teachers in and out of the classroom," Rice said. "We have to do better with teacher compensation as well."

Rice submitted a letter to legislature in November with several suggestions to help ease the teacher shortage. The proposals would cost between $300 million and $500 million over the next five years.

The suggestions include scholarships for high school students pursuing teaching careers, stipends for student teaching internships, loan forgiveness, tuition reimbursement and easing of restrictions on teacher licenses from other states.

Briana Rice is a reporter/producer operating out of Detroit.
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