Substitute teachers in Michigan would need just two years of college credits instead of three under a proposal aimed at easing a statewide shortage of substitutes. The bill's sponsor, Rep. Jud Gilbert, R-Algonac, said it would give more options to districts when they need substitutes.

HB 4541, approved in March by the House Education Committee, would allow substitutes to teach with just 60 college credits instead of 90.

Lawmakers have relaxed standards for substitutes before. The state formerly required a four-year degree, including six credits in professional education, to fill in for certified teachers. That was dropped to 90 credits, and the professional education requirement was also dropped.

Expanding the pool of teachers

House Bill 5768, introduced in February by Charles LaSata, R-St. Joseph, would encourage urban school districts to create programs that would grant one-year temporary teaching credentials to unemployed workers who have a bachelor's degree, are enrolled in a teacher certification program, have done student teaching, and teach in critical shortage areas such as early childhood, early elementary, or bilingual education, or secondary math and science.

The legislation could help alleviate a looming teacher shortage. An estimated 2.2 million new teachers will be needed nationwide to replace retiring teachers before 2010.

Revisions to Detroit reform board

House Bill 5791, introduced in March by Keith Stallworth, D-Detroit, would revise the composition of the state-mandated Detroit reform school board to include the state Treasurer, four members appointed by the mayor, and four at-large members elected by district voters. The current composition includes six members appointed by the mayor and the state superintendent of public instruction. The revised board would take control of the district on Jan. 1, 2004.

The same bill also would require each school in the Detroit district to have a site-based management team composed of the principal, two parents, two teachers, one counselor, one school department head, the school facility manager, and the school business manager. The site team would manage the budget and operations of the individual school.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Education in March.

Tax credits for education expenses

House Bill 5870, introduced in April by Jerry Vander Roest, R-Galesburg, would allow Michigan citizens to deduct from their state income taxes an amount equal to the education expenses paid for a student or students attending a non-public school, including expenses for transportation, books, and supplies, but excluding any amount paid for religious instruction.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Tax Policy.

For more information on these and other bills, visit www.michiganvotes.org and type in the bill number to read the bill history, text, and analysis.