Bill would help pay teachers’ student loans to ease shortages

Capital News Service
LANSING — To fight an ongoing teacher shortage, a Michigan legislator wants to track the problem and help new teachers pay down their student loans. Rep. Robert Kosowski, D-Westland, has introduced a bill that would offer teachers working in shortage areas up to $1,000 a year for five years to repay qualified educational loans. The bill, pending in the House Education Reform Committee, would also require the superintendent of public instruction to track shortages across the state and report regularly to legislators. “I don’t think this bill can solve the teacher shortage, but I’m sure it’s going to help people to get re-energized,” Kosowski said, adding that the incentive might encourage more teachers to apply for jobs in areas with shortages. For the current school year, the state identified five major categories of teacher shortages: special education, industrial technology, mathematics, world languages and occupational education.

Legislature divides over parenting

Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan custody law should reflect the changing Michigan family. That’s the sentiment behind a bill in the House Committee on Families, Children and Seniors that would revise the Child Custody Act of 1970 which says parents have to be “advised” of joint custody as an option. Meanwhile, a resolution, passed by the committee, would raise awareness of parental alienation. Under the proposed “Michigan Shared Parenting Act,” courts would presume joint custody is in the best interest of the child, unless certain conditions are met. Those conditions would include the parents agreeing not to have joint custody or a judge believing the child would be “materially harmed” by joint custody.

Advocates question Snyder’s shyness on social topics

Capital News Service
LANSING — Gov. Rick Snyder has a track record of trying to run Michigan like a business with a focus on jobs and the economy, but when it comes to tackling cultural or social justice issues, Snyder has a self-acknowledged history of staying away. “I don’t spend much time on social issues,” Snyder said in an interview with Capital News Service correspondents. “I spend the vast bulk of my time on economic development, making Michigan better, public safety, all the other issues, because I think that’s typically what our citizens are most concerned with.”
Social issues, particularly same-sex marriage and the question of whether business owners can deny service to people with whom they have religious differences, have been in the spotlight recently. Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court. And the legislature is considering a bill to let businesses turn away customers for religious reasons that is similar to a recent law causing a backlash in Indiana.