LANSING — State Representative Gretchen Driskell (D-Saline) introduced legislation this month that will allow schools to provide safety training as part of the professional development that teachers undergo. The bill, HB 4936, also allows such training to count toward the issuance or renewal of a teaching certificate, equivalent to other forms of continuing education.

“Our children can only get the best possible education if they are able to learn in a safe and secure environment,” Driskell said. “It’s critical that teachers are trained to know what to do in an emergency and, should the worst happen, can keep our kids safe from harm.”

Currently, few school districts around the state offer this training, and often to only a minority of their staff. Driskell hopes that by specifically including safety training in state law and allowing teachers to earn professional development credit, more districts will provide the training and make their schools safer. Several Washtenaw County teachers, many of whom are Driskell’s constituents, have echoed her sentiments.

“Teachers care about the safety and wellbeing of our students. We want them to feel safe so that they can concentrate on learning,” Juan Lauchu, Saline teacher, said. “If more teachers had access to safety training, we would be better prepared to keep our classrooms safe, allowing parents to worry a little less, and help our students focus on putting their best foot forward.”

As school safety has become a larger issue in recent years, more teachers around the country are receiving safety training. Driskell believes this legislation will help Michigan teachers and schools keep pace with the rest of the nation.

“With this legislation, we can show our support for teachers and, at the same time, put children’s and parents’ minds more at ease because classrooms will be safer,” Driskell said. “I look forward to this bill advancing through the legislative process in a bipartisan fashion.”