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Gov. Whitmer Signs Legislation to Recruit and Retain Educators


July 26, 2023 


Gov. Whitmer Signs Legislation to Recruit and Retain Educators

The bills build on Michigan’s momentum to be a top state for educators


LANSING, Mich. – Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed legislation to recruit and retain skilled educators and counselors.


These bills build on the governor's work to attract more talent to Michigan. Last week, she signed a bipartisan education budget that makes Michigan one of the lowest-cost states to become a teacher, with tuition-free training, student loan repayment, and stipends for those who are completing their student teaching.


“This legislation will build on our efforts to recruit and retain the talented educators that provide Michigan students with a phenomenal education,” said Governor Whitmer. “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. I’m proud to support educators in Michigan and look forward to continuing this work with my partners across the state.” 


The legislation aims to support educators by undoing restrictions on subjects that can be included in collective bargaining agreements. Additionally, the bills simplify the process for educators to pay dues.


“Educators across the state are excited about the changes brought forward with signing of these important bills,” said MEA President Chandra Madafferi, a longtime teacher from Oakland County. “The restoration of educator bargaining rights will serve to build an even stronger profession for current and future educators which, in turn, will benefit our students and communities. As we frequently state; our educators' working conditions are our students' learning conditions.”


“For educators, specifically, this bill package holds a special significance, because for too long teachers’ unions have been forcibly excluded from discussions about things that directly affect them and their jobs,” said Terrance Martin, AFT Michigan President. “We know that when educators are empowered and their voices are heard and respected, our schools are better for it, and we’re glad Gov. Whitmer is paving the way to restore educators’ rights and set students up for success.”


“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,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “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.”


Governor Whitmer also signed legislation to recruit and retain educators and counselors, allowing the state of Michigan to accept out of state teaching and counseling certifications. The bills also give educators the opportunity for career advancement by expanding the ways they can earn an advanced teaching certificate.


Governor Whitmer signed Senate Bills 161-162 and 359 and House Bills 4044, 4233, 4354, 4820.


Senate Bill 161 aims to recruit and retain educators by allowing the state to accept out of state teaching certifications. The bill also expands the ways educators can earn advanced teaching certificates.


“I am thankful for Governor Gretchen Whitmer signing into law Senate Bill 161 to expand reciprocity to out-of-state teachers. This transformative legislation will reduce barriers for experienced, out-of-state educators who want to continue working in their fields in Michigan,” said state Senator Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). “It’s no secret that Michigan has struggled to hire and retain educators in Michigan schools, then the shortage of professionals was only exacerbated by the pandemic. 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. As we celebrate the signing of Senate Bills 161, the work to improve education in Michigan continues. It’s bills like these, that will help everyone make it in Michigan.”


Senate Bill 162 allows the state to accept out of state counseling licenses under certain conditions. 


“Counselors are on the front lines of providing academic and career development, social and emotional development, advocacy and leadership to our students,” said state Senator Sean McCann (D-Kalamazoo). “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.”


Senate Bill 359 aims to bring fairness to how teachers are compensated across the state by requiring a mix of factors to determine compensation.


"I am a proud parent of a Detroit Public Schools Community District student. I believe this bill will help keep great teachers in Detroit so that we can help make sure every student receives a good education,” said state Representative Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).“We are putting Detroit's teachers on the same playing field as teachers across the state when it comes to collective bargaining and considering years of experience. I was proud to work with the American Federation of Teachers and Sen. Dayna Polehanki on this legislation, and I know it is the right thing to do for students, parents, and teachers in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.”


House Bill 4044 aims to support educators by removing the requirement that public employers freeze compensation levels once a collective bargaining agreement expires.


“HB 4044 restores fairness to the bargaining process,” said state Representative Matt Koleszar (D-Plymouth). “We know that when the bargaining table is level, the best results for Michiganders are delivered and I’m thrilled to see this bill signed into law.”


House Bill 4233 simplifies the process for public school employees to pay dues.


“HB 4233 makes a significant step in restoring fair for our educators,” said state Representative Jaime Churches (D-Wyandotte). “By bringing back the ability of public school employers to collect union dues, we are enabling teachers to have a collective voice to make sure Michigan is the best place to be an educator and teach our kids.”


House Bill 4354 removes restrictions on subjects that can be included in contract negotiations.


"By restoring collective bargaining rights for teachers and school employees, we are sending a clear message that we value and respect them," said state Representative Regina Weiss (D-Oak Park). "Teachers in Michigan will now once again have a voice in determining important employment conditions that impact their jobs and their classrooms, which will lead to stronger schools and improved student outcomes."


House Bill 4820 aims to bring transparency to the factors used to fill vacancies and conduct staffing reductions at public schools.


“House Bill 4820 ensures teachers and school administrators will each have a seat at the table so the best qualified and most effective teacher is in the proper classroom," said state Representative Phil Skaggs (D-East Grand Rapids). “By fostering a culture of collaboration in our schools we can give Michigan's students the opportunities for success they deserve.”