The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

New Substitute Teacher Bill in Michigan

Jan 3, 2022

In the past two pandemic years, a record rate of teachers have retired and younger teachers are leaving the profession altogether. This exodus reflects how little has been done in any organized, centralized fashion to make schools, teachers, students, AND support staff safe.

So recently Democratic governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, signed a bill to allow bus drivers, food service staff, library aides, paraprofessionals, and secretaries to become substitute teachers throughout the remainder of the 2021–2022 school year. This bill designates that any district employee with a high school diploma or an equivalent certificate can serve as a sub.

True, the state will scramble to keep school doors open, keep the head counts necessary to obtain state and federal funding and to have someone in the classroom, even if it’s to babysit. This will happen in working class and poor communities, because you can bet the richer school districts aren’t going to have non-teaching school staff in their kids’ classrooms.

The official handling of the pandemic has burned through experienced teachers. And what Michigan legislators are proposing is not a solution to this real problem. What they are proposing is NOT education and this bill has nothing to do with providing a high quality education.

Experienced teachers cannot be replaced overnight. At the very least it will take years to train new teachers and staff schools. But it is not likely that this will happen under this for-profit system. And in the meantime, what they are proposing is yet a further step in dismantling public education for the working class and poor.