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Michigan schools may have to hire instructors without teaching degrees in order to avoid a teacher shortage, Phillip E. Runkel, the state's superintendent of schools, said in a recent interview with a local newspaper.

"We must look at alternative methods to attract people in other professions who already have academic skills but may not have educational backgrounds," he said.

"The crunch is starting to come now in certain areas, but by the mid-1990's, or even before, it will be serious across the board if we don't get on it," Mr. Runkel said.

Tom Farrell, assistant superintendent for public affairs, said last week that Mr. Runkel's statement was a suggestion that "this is something we ought to talk about" and not an endorsement of alternative certification.

A bill that endorses firearm-safety training for high-school students has cleared its first hurdle in the California legislature, despite objections from the state parent-teacher association and a teachers' union.

The measure, which was approved by the Senate Education Committee in a 7-to-2 vote, would permit instruction in firearm safety, including the "responsible" use of guns while hunting, for students in grades 10 through 12. In its original form, the bill would have required all secondary schools to offer the gun-safety training.

State education officials say they know of no California districts in which firearm safety is now offered as a curriculum option.

However, Judith Pond, a field representative for the National Rifle Association in Sacramento, said junior rifle and pistol teams--co-sponsored by high schools and the nra--are offered as extracurricular activities in schools throughout the nation.

The bill represents a "policy statement" by the legislature that is similar to statements endorsing alcohol- and drug-abuse-prevention curricula and driver training, according to Senator H.L. Richardson, sponsor of the measure.

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