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Career Tech Bills Work Their Way Through House

December 20, 2017

Schools with teaching shortages could bring in licensed professionals to teach career-tech courses in their area of expertise, under the flagship bill of a five-bill package designed to get more skilled trades graduates into Michigan’s workforce.

HB 5141, sponsored by Rep. Bronna Kahle (R-Clinton), was the most controversial piece of the Career Pathways bills, which ran up against Democratic lawmakers who were concerned about the watering down of teaching standards. 

But Rep. Roger Hauck (R-Mt. Pleasant) said he’s run into instances where the registered teachers don’t exist to teach the types of skilled trades courses today’s industry leaders are looking for. 

“We need to do something to get these kids in the pipeline because I’ve talked to a lot of manufacturers. We lower taxes and loosen regulations, but if they can’t find the workforce, they’re not going to Michigan,” Hauck said. 

That may be so, but Rep. Leslie Love (D-Detroit) and others argued that qualified teachers need to be put in front of students and “rushing forward” with legislation isn’t a “thoughtful and purposeful way” to accomplish that. 

“Working to make sure all our students have access to qualified teachers is very important. Our students deserve more, they deserve the best and this is not it,” said Rep. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor). 

HB 5141 passed the House, 61-49. Rep. Sue Allor’s (R-Wolverine) HB 5140, which creates a high school pupil directory for representatives of proprietary schools, community colleges and skilled trade employers, also passed 61-49. 

Also, schools would need to adopt a model program for career exploration (HB 5139) and job readiness under the bills. And, teachers could use time spent with local employers or tech centers to count toward their professional teacher certificate renewal (HB 5145).

“The overwhelming bipartisan support for the bills today shows that Michigan is coming together to lead the nation in developing talent, and that this is vitally important to continue Michigan’s momentum. We look forward to continuing this conversation with our partners in the state Senate,” read a joint statement from Talent and Economic Development Director Roger Curtis and State Superintendent Brian Whiston. 

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