Michigan bill would allow students to lead classes to ease teacher shortage
Rep. Pamela Hornberger of the Township of R-Chesterfield, who leads the committee, said her legislation provides one more tool in a toolbox that now also includes legislative power for bus drivers, library aides and dads. other support staff to replace teaching if they have a high standard. – school diploma.
She acknowledged that hiring education majors may not work for all districts and that it would be optional.
“We’re at the point where we’re voting to put anyone with a pulse and breathing in an underclass classroom,” the Chester Township Republican said during a committee hearing on Tuesday. “We have to do something.”
The Michigan Department of Education opposes the bill. Department spokesman Martin Ackley declined to elaborate.
Critics say the measure could do more harm than good.
“It’s not a reasonable solution,” said Gail Richmond, director of teacher preparation programs at Michigan State University. “As a parent, I want to know that my children’s teacher has gone through a program that has a particular set of expectations, provides a certain set of learning opportunities, and has a set of standards that they have met. “, she said. noted.
Education majors also need this kind of structure, Richmond said, calling the legislation a “lose-lose situation.”
The bill does not specify how far students must be in teacher preparation programs to participate, but during Tuesday’s testimony, Hornberger suggested they would have had at least some teaching experience during their college courses. .
Former teacher Rep. Lori Stone, D-Warren, said she felt “some hesitation” about students leading a class without the real-time support and feedback of a certified teacher.
Still, she said, the legislation could ease the financial hardship of education majors, whose assignments teaching students are typically unpaid.
Hornberger said teacher preparation programs could restructure their programs to ensure education majors are prepared earlier to lead their own classrooms, and districts could establish mentorship programs to guide them.
None of that is specified in the bill, and that’s a problem, Richmond said in a phone interview Tuesday afternoon.
“I can imagine that some version of this might work if it was carefully crafted, carefully designed, carefully evaluated, and carefully supervised, but not if it doesn’t identify the kinds of necessary and powerful supports that developing educators need” , she said. This should include regular real-time feedback, co-teaching experiences and daily support from an experienced mentor, Richmond said, describing the support students typically receive during unpaid teaching assignments.
Hornberger told the hearing that she was open to changing the law. If districts and universities work together, they can develop a model that provides a good experience for trainee teachers while solving local teacher shortages for districts in crisis, she said. Universities may need to restructure their model of delivering education to students, she said.
Petoskey Superintendent Chris Parker said he would not choose to have education majors act as teachers in his district, but said it could be an option for districts where the shortage of teachers is more serious.
“It’s good to see the legislature trying to help resolve the current crisis,” he said, but “would you like a surgeon to remove your appendix that’s on a temporary certification but watched the TV series ‘ER’ and took some biology classes?’
The legislation could add administrative costs to the Michigan Department of Education, according to a Home tax analysis. Those costs would likely be absorbed by existing staff, analysts said.
Education advocate Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future, said having uncertified instructors in charge of classrooms isn’t ideal, but it’s a reasonable option when there’s a severe shortage. . Michigan Future is a nonpartisan think tank focused on the role of education in sustaining the economy.