Lawmaker hosted meeting to discuss bills to prepare, attract, retain teachers in Michigan

TAYLOR, Mich. — Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) hosted a TeA+chers for Michigan Town Hall for local residents at Taylor City Hall on Tuesday evening. Concerned educators, parents and community members were in attendance to discuss ways to prepare, attract and retain Michigan’s best educators with a panel of educational experts.

“Michigan’s hardworking teachers need our support, and our kids simply deserve to have good schools with good teachers,” Sen. Hopgood said. “As residents of this great state, we have a shared responsibility to discuss our educators’ concerns and ways we can support them in their teaching environments.”

Introduced in late January, Sen. Hopgood’s TeA+chers for Michigan education plan is the first comprehensive investment in Michigan’s K-12 teachers in more than a decade. The 22-bill package — that includes Senate Bills 25, 724-725 and 764-782 — has been designed to provide incentives and tools to restore the teaching profession and make Michigan a place where people want to teach.

Community members engaged with panelists in discussions on several topics, including the lack of special education funding, how to encourage high school students to become interested in the field of teaching, and how important the teaching profession is to the future of our children.

“We need to bring back the respect of the profession and make it a great profession for people who love education and love our kids,” said House Democratic Floor Leader Christine Greig (D–Farmington Hills). “Let’s start doing more positive things for education rather than high-stakes testing and punitive measures that are tearing down our profession, and the education system as a whole.”

The introduced legislation has the support of the Michigan Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers–Michigan, and has been designed to solve current issues plaguing Michigan’s education system, such as low teacher retention rates, overcrowded classrooms and the diminishing number of teachers entering the job market.

“In the past two years, I think I could count on my hands how many students have told me that they want to be teachers.” said Michael Sayler, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Education at Eastern Michigan University. “This is an awesome package of bills — It’s the closest to tremendous you can get.”

A few of the proposed solutions in the TeA+chers for Michigan plan include:

  • Creating a Teacher Recruitment and Retention Scholarship Fund that would award scholarships of $1,000 per semester to full-time teachers attending master’s-level teacher education programs while serving in economically disadvantaged schools, and who are committed to serving four years of teaching post-graduation;
  • Setting a teacher-student ratio of 1:20, or one teacher per every 20 students, for kindergarten through fourth grade, with the ratio increased to 1:25 if there is a full-time paraprofessional also working in the same classroom; and,
  • Allowing for up to 10 years of student loan debt forgiveness for teachers who are in their first three years of teaching;

The Taylor town hall was the first gathering of its kind this year to increase awareness about Sen. Hopgood’s legislation, with additional town halls being planned around the state. Through grassroots efforts and outreach, Sen. Hopgood hopes he can make a real difference for teachers.

“Republicans’ continual cuts to K-12 education funding have failed our teachers and our kids,” Sen. Hopgood said. “With the TeA+chers for Michigan plan, we have a real opportunity to keep our best educators here at home, where they can be acknowledged and rewarded for their commitment and dedication to our students’ success.”

###

Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D–Taylor) hosted a TeA+chers for Michigan Town Hall for local residents at Taylor City Hall on Tuesday evening, where concerned educators, parents and community members discussed ways to prepare, attract and retain Michigan’s best educators with a panel of educational experts.