LANSING, Mich., June 23, 2021— Citing the need for decisive action to remedy Michigan’s ongoing teacher shortage crisis, state Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Trenton) and thirteen other Democratic representatives in the House today introduced a comprehensive package of bills to improve teacher benefits, training and more. The legislation, dubbed the Respecting Educators package, includes nearly 20 bills that range from improving teacher health benefits to creating new pipelines for public school teachers.
“We pay a lot of lip service to how important teachers are, but the fact is that for decades now, we haven’t been offering the type of benefits and compensation that will get and keep great teachers in the field,” said Camilleri, a former teacher and the sponsor of a bill in the package to forgive eligible student loan debt for public school teachers as long as they actively remain in the classroom. “There was a time when Michigan was the envy of the world in terms of both education and teacher benefits, and we need to create tangible incentives to bring back that status. When we do that, we can effectively solve our state’s teacher shortage by attracting and retaining high-quality educators for our kids, and we can significantly improve student outcomes in the process.”
“As a parent, I know the quality of my children’s education is based heavily on their teachers’ ability to succeed in the classroom,” said state Rep. Christine Morse (D-Texas Township). “Currently, Michigan teachers are offered little support and even fewer resources to do so, impacting students across the state. As a legislator, and a mom, I see this bill package as a win for our teachers and my kids.”
“Hands-on experience is often one of the best ways to learn more about a profession and figure out if it’s the right fit for you. Michigan has career technical programs for high schoolers to explore all sorts of industries and professions. Adding teacher certification to that list is long overdue,” said state Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing). “My bill would create a statewide teacher-cadet program, creating an opportunity for students interested in learning more about becoming a teacher themselves, while increasing the help and hands-on assistance available in our classrooms.”
The following is a list of the bills and their sponsors:
- House Bill 4574: Changes to the third-grade reading law. Allows teachers to use discretion when deciding whether to retain a student not reading at grade level by third grade, sponsored by state Rep. Nate Shannon (D-Sterling Heights).
- House Bill 5101: Changes to early literacy screening. Amends requirements for early literacy screening to allow for teachers’ professional judgment, sponsored by state Rep. Cara A. Clemente (D-Lincoln Park).
- House Bills 5104 and 5105: Removing student growth component from teacher evaluations. Modifies teacher evaluations to a 2-tiered non- punitive system not based on student growth, sponsored by state Rep. Lori Stone (D-Warren) and an accompanying bill that makes technical changes, sponsored by state Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia).
- House Bill 5102: Local Teacher Supply Reimbursement Act. Allows funds designated to specific schools from taxes to be allocated to reimburse state-certified teachers for out-of-pocket expenses, sponsored by state Rep. Abraham Aiyash (D-Hamtramck).
- House Bill 5103: Making teacher supply reimbursements tax-free. Amends the Income Tax Act to allow for above the line deduction from adjusted gross income for contributions to the Local Teacher Supply Reimbursement Program Act, sponsored by state Rep. Angela Witwer (D-Delta Township).
- House Bill 5106: Improving teacher health care benefits. Amends the Publicly Funded Health Insurance Contribution Act to require schools to offer 90/10 split, and require schools to be in hard cap until cost is 10% greater than cap, sponsored by state Rep. Mari Manoogian (D-Birmingham).
- House Bill 5107: Statewide model teacher-cadet program. Creates a career technical program in teacher preparation that allows high school students to work toward meeting teacher certification requirements through courses and experiential learning, sponsored by Anthony.
- House Bills 4368 and 4369: Paraprofessional-to-teacher pipeline. Creates a tuition-free pathway for paraprofessionals to earn their teacher certification and and associated fund for that program, sponsored by state Reps. Kevin Hertel (D-St. Clair Shores) and Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth), respectively.
- House Bill 5108: Individualized professional development plans. Requires school improvement plans to include individualized professional development plans for teachers, sponsored by state Rep. Kara Hope (D-Holt).
- House Bill 5111: Incentivizing decreases in teacher-to-student ratio. Creates a $25 per pupil categorical for districts that lower their teacher pupil ratio from the prior year, prioritized for districts with the highest ratios first, sponsored by state Rep. Helena Scott (D-Detroit).
- House Bill 5110: Subsidizing teacher certification fees. Requires the state to pay for teacher certification and recertification fees, sponsored by Morse.
- House Bill 5109: Fair pay for educators. Creates a three-tiered best practice bonus system ($20, $30 and $35 per pupil) based on whether teachers receive 95%, 100% or 110% of the average salary of like-educated individuals in their area, sponsored by state Rep. Kelly Breen (D-Novi).
- House Bill 5099: Teacher student loan forgiveness program. Creates a student loan forgiveness program for eligible public school teachers that covers up to $300 per month in student loan payments as long as the recipient remains actively teaching in the field, sponsored by Camilleri.
- House Bill 5100: Tax exemption for teacher student loan forgiveness. Amends the tax code to make the student loan payment tax free, sponsored by state Rep. Brenda Carter (D-Pontiac).
- House Bill 5112: Classroom management training for teachers. Requires teacher preparation programs to include a course on classroom management, sponsored by Stone.
- House Bill 5113: Classroom management training for substitutes. Requires substitute teachers to have six hours or one day of professional development that includes classroom management skills training if they do not hold a teaching certificate, sponsored by state Rep. Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park).
The bills will be referred to committee at today’s House session.