Legally speaking, anyone who is 18 years old is considered to be an adult. But should Michigan schools employ substitute teachers who are not yet old enough to buy alcohol?

Teacher Shortage Leads to New Standards

Currently, Michigan law requires individuals to have a minimum of 60 college credits in order to serve as a substitute teacher. But a shortage of both classroom teachers and qualified substitute teachers in our state has left many schools scrambling. It should be noted that these shortages have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

New legislation being considered in Lansing could change our state's requirements, putting adults as young as 18 years old in charge of classrooms.

State Representative Nate Shannon of Sterling Heights has introduced House Bill 4549, which would help Michigan deal with its current substitute teacher shortage.

Details of the Proposed Legislation

  • If passed, the new bill would allow anyone 21 and older to be a substitute teacher, as long as they have a high school diploma.
  • Anyone 18 or older could serve as a substitute teacher for Kindergarten through eighth-grade classrooms if they are enrolled in a teacher preparation program.
  • According to WILX-TV, the law would be in effect until June 2025.

The Michigan Education Association has yet to weigh in with a formal opinion of the proposal, but spokesperson Thomas Morgan says there are concerns.

“If we’re taking someone who’s 21 years old and just has 60 college credits, or no college credits, and asking them to lead a classroom of 18 and 19-year-olds, there’s potential for issues there,” he said.

But Morgan goes on to say there is some support for individuals in teacher preparation programs working as subs because it can provide classroom experience.

The bill is currently being considered by the House Education Committee.


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