Whitmer Signs Legislation to Recruit, Retain Michigan Teachers and Counselors

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation this week aimed at recruiting and retaining more teachers and counselors into the classroom. (Governor Gretchen Whitmer via Facebook)

By Michigan Advance

July 27, 2023

BY LILY GUINEY, MICHIGAN ADVANCE

MICHIGAN—Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation Wednesday to expand teacher and school counselor recruitment in Michigan by accepting certifications obtained in other states.

Senate Bills 161 and 162, sponsored by state Sens. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) and Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo), allow Michigan schools to accept out-of-state teaching and counseling licenses and certifications when hiring new faculty. The bills were passed unanimously by the House in June, in one of the few completely bipartisan votes in the current session.

Whitmer said that opening doors for teachers and counselors from other states to come to Michigan without needing to obtain a new license will help address the state’s teacher shortage.

“This legislation will build on our efforts to recruit and retain the talented educators that provide Michigan students with a phenomenal education,” she said in a statement. “Earlier this year, we announced the first payments for the MI Future Educators Fellowship to hire and train teachers and we’re investing $370 million to support teachers in the recently passed bipartisan budget.”

The package received support from both the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the Michigan branch of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), alongside the Michigan Department of Education. State Superintendent Michael Rice said that the new laws will support the hiring of more qualified, experienced teachers from other states.

“We are delighted that the legislature has passed, and the governor has signed into law, these two regulatory relief initiatives recommended by MDE to help veteran educators from out of state become Michigan educators more quickly,” Rice said in a statement. “While we successfully recruit and certify more than a thousand educators a year who are initially certified outside of Michigan and subsequently in the state, these new laws will permit more rapid hiring of veteran, out-of-state educators, which will benefit districts across the state and particularly those in communities close to other states.”

McCann said in a statement that bolstering the recruitment of counselors to Michigan schools comes at a time when students are underserved by a shortage of mental health support professionals.

“Counselors are on the front lines of providing academic and career development, social and emotional development, advocacy and leadership to our students,” McCann said. “This law will help cut the red tape for qualified professionals in other states to come work in Michigan schools and provide this critical support to our students and address this shortage.”

Geiss said it was “no secret” that Michigan has struggled in recent years to recruit and retain teachers who want to stay in the state for the duration of their careers.

“This transformative legislation will reduce barriers for experienced, out-of-state educators who want to continue working in their fields in Michigan,” Geiss said. “This expansion of reciprocity is essential to addressing the teacher shortage in Michigan by creating a clearer career pathway to experienced teachers previously hampered by restrictive policies.”

This coverage was republished from Michigan Advance pursuant to a Creative Commons license.

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