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Local state lawmakers sponsor teacher support, prep bills

By Erin Dietzer/The Holland Sentinel • Feb 24, 2018 at 4:00 PM

West Michigan state representatives Daniela Garcia and Jim Lilly have joined with other members of the Michigan House to support legislation requiring higher education to provide additional support and preparation for future teachers.

The eight-bill package contains two bills from Garcia, R-Holland, and one from Lilly, R-Park Township.

Garcia's bills are 5598 and 5599.

HB 5598 would require the instructors in education programs to full-time faculty of college education programs to complete at least 30 hours of continuing education annually in order to be certified as a teacher preparation program.

HB 5599 would introduce a warranty program for teachers. The program would apply to teachers who graduate from a Michigan institution and would only apply for up to two years after his or her graduation. If, in those first two years, a teacher receives an evaluation or a development plan from their school that determines they are not teaching effectively, the teacher may enroll in the warranty program to improve their skills. The education institution would pay for the warranty program.

"Local school districts and new teachers have faced challenges with inadequate teacher preparation programs that don't properly prepare teachers to effectively teach our students," García said. "This legislation will provide the necessary changes that teacher prep programs must incorporate to be approved by the state superintendent. These are common-sense changes to prepare everyone to lead a classroom because we must prepare our teachers for the next 50 years and not based on the past 50 years."

Lilly's bill, HB 5605, would require teacher preparation programs to provide instruction in developing classroom management skills, social and emotional learning practices, and teaching pupils from multiple environments like rural, urban, English language learners, students with disabilities and students from high poverty areas.

The rest of the bills in the package are:

HB 5600, introduced by state Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover. This bill would require a teacher prep institution to make a $1,000 stipend available to a mentor teacher for helping developing a student teacher in the classroom.

HB 5601, introduced by state Rep. Kathy Crawford, R-Novi. This bill would require student teachers to complete at least 90 hours of classroom experience.

HB 5602 and 5603, introduced by state Rep. Tim Kelly, R-Saginaw Township. HB 5602 would establish a master teacher corps through the state Department of Education to help provide professional development, assist low-performing schools, and to serve as input for new educational programs or issues. HB 5603 would require student teachers to complete six credits of reading instruction in order to earn their elementary-level teaching certificates.

HB 5604, introduced by state Rep. Pamela Hornberg, R-Chesterfield Township. This bill would require student teaching in multiple environments like rural and urban districts, and working with students who are English language learners, live in poverty or have a disability.

"If we're going to make education a true priority, we must have specific standards of our teacher preparation programs as we do for our districts and teachers," said Kelly, who is also chairman of the House Education Reform Committee. "The parameters we establish with this legislation will produce teachers truly ready and prepared to excel in the classroom."

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