Governor Whitmer Signs Bill To Combat Substitute Teacher Shortage

February 1, 2022

6th+grade+science+teacher+Mrs.+Brooke+helps+her+students+with+their+project.

J. Lu

6th grade science teacher Mrs. Brooke helps her students with their project.

On December 27, 2021 Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed House bill 4294 allowing any district employee with a highschool diploma to substitute in classes for the remaining 2021-2022 school year. This means secretaries, food service staff, librarians, and bus drivers are all allowed to substitute in Michigan schools. 

Governor Whitmer signed this bill to combat the substitute and teacher shortages that are currently impacting schools across the United States. Some of the leading causes of the substitute and teacher shortages are the COVID-19 pandemic, low wages, few benefits, and a lack of qualified candidates. 

The lack of qualified candidates might be because to become a teacher, one has to spend around 4 years in college (a bachelor’s degree): tuition-wise that adds up to be around $10,740 for an in-state public school or $27,560 for an out-of-state public school. However, that’s just an average and other public and private schools can be much higher. In addition to that, teachers only make an average of $60,477 a year in the US or $60,629 in Michigan. If one compares that to jobs like chief executive officers, architectural and engineering managers, and marketing managers who can make more than $100,000 a year with a bachelor’s degree, one can see why someone might prefer jobs like those over teaching. 

As for most substitutes, subbing isn’t a full time job and in Michigan they make around $126 a day and in the US an average of $111 a day. Full time substitutes make an average of $25,688 a year in Michigan and an average of $24,000 a year in the US. Before House bill 4294, to become a substitute one needed a minimum of an associate’s degree or 60 hours of college credit, which isn’t a lot of money unless one has another job on the side. 

Furthermore, dealing with challenging and struggling students as well as demanding parents, can be frustrating but also takes a mental toll. Of course, to many, helping others is its own reward – but helping others doesn’t always pay the bills. 

Concerning TCAPS, the district has already gone virtual for a week because of these issues, and they most certainly aren’t over. Hopefully the situation will be resolved soon, but for now students can only hope to remain in school with teachers present. 

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