Get tickets for Lansing event on growth of long-term substitute teachers

Join Bridge reporters on Nov. 7 at Lansing Community College to discuss the state’s increased reliance on long-term substitute teachers.

Roughly 2,500 Michigan classrooms are led by long-term substitute teachers, impacting up to 50,000 students across the state ‒ a tenfold increase over the number of long-term subs since 2012.

Bridge Magazine first reported this troubling trend and now wants you to weigh in.

What drove this exponential rise in generally uncertified teachers teaching students throughout the school year? Does it have an impact on student outcomes? How should the state address this issue?

These questions and more will be tackled at a Bridge Magazine public event on Nov. 7 in Lansing. Panels featuring state and national experts will be there, with the event moderated by the Bridge reporters who broke this story.

Take part in this free, solutions-oriented conversation from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in the Michigan Room at Lansing Community College. Doors open at 5, and a light dinner will be provided. 

Get your ticket for this can’t miss conversation here: 

After the panels, it’s your chance to have your voice heard! There will be a Citizen Sound-Off, where you have the opportunity to let us know what you think about the rise in long-term substitutes. What you share with us will be incorporated into a Substitute Teacher Citizen Agenda, a report we will deliver to the state Legislature in January 2020 to amplify resident ideas. 

PANEL 1 - Tracking the Trend: How Long-Term Subs Rates Exploded and Why that Matters
Moderator: Mike Wilkinson, Bridge Magazine’s data reporter


  • Dr. Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean of the University of Michigan’s School of Education
  • Doug Pratt, Director of Public Affairs, Michigan Education Association
  • Molly Sweeney, Organizing Director, 482Forward

PANEL 2 - No Substitutions: Real Solutions for Michigan's Reliance on Long-Term Subs
Moderator: Ron French, Bridge Magazine’s education reporter


  • Dr. Nikolai Vitti, Detroit Public Schools Superintendent
  • Dr. Robert Kimball, GVSU's Associate Vice President for Charter Schools
  • Dr. Dorinda Carter Andrews, Chairperson and Professor, Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University 
  • Dr. Pamela Pugh, Vice President, State Board of Education

Wilkinson and French uncovered the rise in long-term substitutes statewide in August. Upon publication, their stories led to a call for greater examination of this previously undiscussed trend and its impacts. This Solutions Summit is our response to that public debate, and you can help us push this conversation forward.

For our full coverage, click here.

Facts matter. Trust matters. Journalism matters.

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Tue, 10/22/2019 - 8:01am

This is a serious problem that needs out of the box thinking, how about an advertising campaign for people to become teachers? The state serves the tourism industry with Pure Michigan, how about spending money to recruit teachers? At the very least it would get people talking about the problem of long term substitutes which I think is under the radar for most people in Michigan.

Alexandra Schmi...
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 4:22pm

Thank you for sharing your idea! Our Public Engagement Team appreciates your input on this issue.

Nancy Barrios
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 9:25am

The problem is teachers aren't allowed to be teachers anymore! Inclusive classrooms, no assistants, no supply budgets.. they're literally buying supplies out if their own pockets....and let's not forget "somebody bright idea" of trackinh individual student progress..... Write an individual plan, test to the plan, measure the outcomes, rewrite the plan, record the plan...oh yes!!! AND teach!!!

Those legislators and administrators who create these measurements should be required to test it themselves for a full year in a classroom....while they teach without adequate supplies and overly complex record keeping requirements.....Lack of qualified teachers...look at the evolution of the classroom the past 20 years.

I'm not a teacher...I have however served as a BD of Ed member for 12 years and have a Master's Degree....

Alexandra Schmi...
Tue, 10/22/2019 - 4:23pm

Thank you for your input, Nancy! Our Public Engagement Team appreciates you taking the time to share your thoughts with us.

Wed, 10/23/2019 - 2:06pm

Long-term substitutes are a symptom of the problem; they are an answer to the current lack of teacher availability.
The problem is a lack of confidence in our education system both by potential teachers and parents and taxpayers.
To solve this problem it is critical there is an inclusion of those who are most sensitive to and a factor in the problem, those who are most critical to resolving the problem [those who will pay for the solutions, and those who will be the future teachers that implement those solutions].
The contributors to the problem are; lack of personalizing the value of learning, lack of understanding and ownership of the learning process, the means/methods of learning and the role/responsibilities the student has in that process, the role of family/friends, lack of change in means/methods of delivering what has historically has been done in the classroom.
What is needed is an open [‘experts’, stakeholders including students and taxpayers] conversation about what led to the decline in these contributors, an open conversation about what is needed to reverse the contributors [this is different from action plans], and open conversation in developing a collection of action plans that can be customized to the local situations.
I have been in a role where others considered me a ‘knowledgeable person’, I learned I gain that reputation not by telling people what to do rather by asking questions that made them part of the answer they needed. I encourage the panel members and moderators to recognize that the people in their audience are ‘experts’ in their situations and application of their role in the education process. I raise this because when my parents met with my teachers they were told leave the education to the experts [they did and I was a disappointing student], we heard that from our children’s teachers [we had learned better and our children did much better], our daughters have heard that from their children’s teacher/administrators [both were PTA/PTO presidents and had learned better, their children are doing better than they did]. My point is that parents and students and taxpayers have opportunities and with knowledge can be part of/owners of the learning successes.
Ignore me and I will be forced to create, from the outside, the viewpoint I am act on. I won't be attending because no one on dais will be able to listen, they will be talking and answering.

Jim tomlinson
Tue, 11/05/2019 - 8:59am

Teachers do not tell that to parents at parent/teacher meetings. It does not happen.

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 11:36am

You could see this coming 5 to 10 years ago. Could there come a day that teachers would become civil service, What do you expect when you start teachers at the low $30s? They say half the teachers leave after 5 years. I wonder why? Peace Love to hear from you.