Are Long-Term Substitute Teachers a Problem in Michigan?

A recent report by Bridge Magazine finds that the state's public schools used more than 2,500 long-term substitute teachers in 2018-19. Find out which districts used the most.

Kids raising their hands at a teacher in the background

Many school districts in Michigan are using a surprising number of long-term substitute teachers in classrooms, Bridge Magazine recently reported.

During the 2018-19 school year, more than 2,500 long-term subs were used – a tenfold increase from four years ago, according to the publication. Some people are concerned over the trend since the state doesn’t require substitutes to be certified teachers; instead, districts are allowed to hire subs who have at least 60 college credits.

A state spokesperson, Martin Ackley, told Bridge Magazine that Michigan is facing a teacher shortage.

“We all need to work together to attract and retain educators to the profession and ensure every child in Michigan has access to a quality education,” he said.

While some programs are working to train long-term substitute teachers who want to become certified teachers, certain charter schools and public school districts in Michigan face the issue more than others. In Benton Harbor, for example, more than 40 percent of its teachers were long-term subs.

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An August Q&A by Bridge with Elizabeth Birr Moje, the dean of the University of Michigan’s education school, highlighted some of the main reasons long-term subs are such a concern.

“Having an effective teacher throughout one’s learning life is the single most important factor in a child’s academic success,” she told the publication, pointing out a Stanford University study on the topic. She said the issue disproportionately affects low-income, urban, and rural families, and that it “should concern all of us.”

Districts using the most long-term subs

Wondering which districts nearby are using the highest number of long-term substitute teachers? Here’s a look at the top 10 local schools that used the most long term subs in the 2018-19 school year – and how many permits for long-term subs they’ve requested so far in the 2019-20 school year.

1. Dearborn City School District

  • 20,740 students
  • 2018-19: 104
  • 2019-20: 57

2. Detroit Public Schools Community District

  • 50,176 students
  • 2018-19: 92
  • 2019-20: 117

3. Detroit Service Learning Academy

  • 1,350 students
  • 2018-19: 47
  • 2019-20: 0

4. Benton Harbor Area Schools

  • 1,941 students
  • 2018-19: 41
  • 2019-20: 19

5. Berkley School District

  • 4,377 students
  • 2018-19: 38
  • 2019-20: 7

6. Cesar Chavez Academy

  • 2,291 students
  • 2018-19: 37
  • 2019-20: 6

7. Lansing Public School District

  • 10,652 students
  • 2018-19: 35
  • 2019-20: 16

8. Brighton Area Schools

  • 5,998 students
  • 2018-19: 33
  • 2019-20: 13

9. Grand Rapids Public Schools

  • 16,006 students
  • 2018-19: 31
  • 2019-20: 24

10. Clarkston Community School District

  • 7,334 students
  • 2018-19: 30
  • 2019-20: 3

Are you concerned about long-term subs in your child’s school? Tell us in the comments.

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