As Michigan seeks to develop a system to attract and retain more teachers despite a continuing educator crisis, legislators have introduced a measure that would give teachers a $1,000 stipend for acting as a mentor to student teachers.
In addition, the plan calls for paying student instructors $90 a day for their work, which is now unpaid in Michigan public school districts.
House Bill 6013 would introduce a new provision to Michigan’s education code to establish a grant program for school districts to compensate student teachers and mentor teachers for their efforts.
Having cleared the House Education Committee on Tuesday, May 17, the measure is now heading to the House floor for a vote.
The director of legislative affairs for the West Michigan Talent Triangle, Chris Glass, said that it is essential for teachers to be rewarded for mentoring responsibilities since they are taking on a significant amount of additional work. This work includes evaluating lesson plans, offering feedback on teaching, and ensuring that the student understands the material.
This measure has been endorsed by Glass, a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It is above and above what is, you know, a standard teacher’s obligations, when they are mentoring a student teacher.”
The $90-a-day stipend for student teachers was recommended based on the average wage for replacement instructors in Michigan, said state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, who sponsored the measure.
Hornberger said she began looking into student teacher salaries when her daughter went to college to become a teacher. It was at this point that she learned that student teaching, in contrast to paid internships, is often uncompensated.
“If you’re student teaching, that’s a full-time job,” Hornberger added. “You can’t go out and work and student teach and do a decent job prepared for your kids. So it only seems reasonable that we pay them.”
Students who want to become teachers won’t face as many obstacles, according to Glass, who said he was in favor of the student teaching stipend because of that.
“When you look at the criteria of student teaching, most if not all students that I’m acquainted with are not reimbursed for their student teaching experience,” Glass told MLive.
“That’s a financial burden they take on even after getting their bachelor’s degree. That is one aspect among many that is playing into the choices of college-going students and selecting what career they’re going to pursue.”
Glass said mentoring programs leads to greater teacher retention rates down the line.
“When it comes to mentor teachers, evidence indicates it helps with student success, it helps with the retention of educators, it helps better educate our future teachers,” he stated.
Teachers are in short supply in Michigan, which means the state must do all it can to break down the obstacles that keep individuals from joining the field.