New legislation allows for paraprofessionals, bus drivers, cafeteria workers to substitute teach

Posted at 8:12 PM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 20:12:58-05

FARMINGTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — A shortage of teachers and substitute teachers has forced a number of Michigan schools to cancel classes during the pandemic.

But the pandemic has only shined a light on a problem that has persisted for several years.

And new legislation, which allows for secretaries, paraprofessionals and cafeteria workers to help fill in the gap by working as substitute teachers, is not welcomed by all in education.

“MEA opposed this legislation because it doesn’t set students or employees up for success. We don’t train teachers to drive busses and we don’t train bus drivers to teach math. Furthermore, this doesn’t address the real drivers behind the educator shortage — the lack of compensation and respect for the profession," Doug Pratt, director of Public Affairs for the Michigan Education Association, wrote in a statement to 7 Action News.

“As Gov. Whitmer said, this is a stopgap measure for the rest of this school year. We look forward to working with her and the Legislature on real solutions to recruit and retain educators into the profession in the new year," Pratt wrote.

On Monday, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed House Bill 4294 to address the teacher shortage. The measure is only temporary and expires on June 30, 2022.

In the video player above, learn more about the legislation and hear from parents as well as the superintendent of the Novi Community School District.