Work Needed on New Career Pathways Bills

Bob Kefgen's picture

Following two weeks of testimony about the Michigan Career Pathways Alliance (MCPA) recommendations, five new bills were introduced in the House this week. The legislation deals with various topics related to CTE and is being couched as enacting the ideas outlined by the MCPA, but only some of the bills actually align with those recommendations and most will need work if they are going to help rather than create new problems for Principals and other educators.

That said, every indication MASSP has received in our early conversations with legislators and other stakeholders is that there is broad willingness to work collaboratively to address any issues and make the legislation helpful for educators.

The Bills

The five bills in the package actually deal with four CTE-related issues. The breakdown below outlines what the bills do, how they align to the MCPA recommendations, and what concerns might need to be addressed moving forward.

Uncertified CTE Teachers
HB 5141-42 would expand a current law that allows districts to hire uncertified teachers when they are unable to find a certified instructor to fill a position. Currently the law requires that a person have a Bachelor’s or better with a major in the area they are going to teach and at least two years of work experience in that field. The bills would change those requirements for CTE and allow districts to hire candidates with a high school diploma and a professional license or certification aligned to the subject(s) they will be teaching (e.g. a licensed cosmetologist could teach cosmetology). MASSP has serious concerns about any legislation that attempts to address our state’s teacher shortage by relying on uncertified teachers. For their part, the MCPA recommendations focused creating a condensed teaching certificate for CTE teachers as the means of addressing this specific teacher shortage problem.

Career Exploration Instruction
HB 5139 would require the MDE to develop a K-12 model program of instruction for career exploration. Districts would be required to incorporate career exploration into their K-12 curriculum and would be able to, but not required to, use the MDE model program. The introduced bill is a significant improvement over the original recommendations of the MCPA, which would have mandated the schools provide a new dedicated career course for all students.

Pupil Information Sharing with Employers
HB 5140 would require that districts create and maintain a list of students interested in CTE instruction and careers. Districts would have to develop a process for parents to opt their students into and out of this information sharing. Districts would also be required to share students contact information, upon request, with proprietary schools, community colleges, and skilled trades employers. MASSP has significant concerns with this bill. The logistical hurdles and record keeping requirements posed by this bill are overwhelming. There are also student privacy implications when sharing personally identifiable student information with private companies.

Externships as PD for CTE Teachers
HB 5145 would codify recent action by MDE to allow CTE teachers to count time spent on externships as professional development toward renewing their teaching certificate. This flexibility already exists, so this would not be a change for teachers or schools. For more information on MDE’s existing policy about using externships as professional learning, see MDE memo #114-17.

Next Steps

The bills were referred the House Committee on Workforce and Talent Development and, at a press conference on Wednesday and in a subsequent meeting with MASSP, the chair indicated that he intends to move forward on an ambitious timeline. Expect at least two weeks of testimony on the legislation, but also expect that the bills will leave committee prior to the Legislature's Thanksgiving break. MASSP is already working with the bill sponsors to address the concerns that these bills raise for Principals and we are optimistic about finding resolution to these issues.