Substitute Teacher Shortage


Many districts across Michigan have struggled to find substitute teachers under normal conditions for many years, and now due to the COVID-19 pandemic the situation has worsened. The pandemic has caused higher rates in teacher absences, resulting in the demand for substitutes significantly increasing. Districts are claiming that it’s nearly impossible to find qualified individuals to fill in as substitute teachers.
Before the pandemic, substitute teachers in Michigan were typically paid $80 to $85 a day but some districts are now offering much more than that. According to, substitutes used to average about $11 or $12 an hour, but as of recently, those rates have gone up to about $18.13 an hour. Recently, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed a bill to allow non-teaching staff in schools to become substitute teachers. Whitmer wants to avoid returning to virtual school because of it’s low satisfaction rates. She believes that signing this bill will decrease the chances of that alternative. The state of Michigan generally requires subs without a teaching certificate to have an associate’s degree or at least sixty semester hours of college credit. Now, as long as they are staff at the school, they can fill in.
So long as districts can convince a sufficient number of bus drivers, custodians, cafeteria workers and other staff to cover for teachers that are out sick, the bill will be an effective way to prevent schools from going online. The bill provides that regardless of if these workers normally make less than the wage of a substitute teacher, they will be paid a substitute teacher’s wage if they fill in.
Whitmer sees that the public has been responding positively to this idea. She believes that using staff members that were previously employed at the school is beneficial for the kids. If the kids already know the staff, it will be easy for them to form relationships with students and yield higher success rates in classes than normal subs would. Importantly, since the staff already works in the building, there’s a good chance they will have pre-existing relationships with the kids.
All in all, Whitmers goal in signing this bill was to resolve the problem of the sub shortage, and to keep schools healthy and in-person. However, this is not just an issue in Michigan. States like ​​Georgia, California, Florida, Idaho, and more are all overwhelmed about the shortage of substitutes. Hopefully, if Whitmer’s bill is successful, we will see similar actions from those other states soon.