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Educators Share Recommendations to Address Our State’s Teacher Shortage

This story originally appeared as part of the Council of Michigan Foundation’s (CMF) Weekly Download. Click here to read the original post.

A new report is sharing insights from educators on potential solutions to address Michigan’s teacher shortage.

According to the report, conducted by Public Policy Associates (PPA) on behalf of the Michigan Education Association (MEA), AFT Michigan and Middle Cities Education Association, the number of teaching certificates issued dropped by 24% from the 2013-2014 school year to the 2017-2018 school year.

The report also highlights the lack of diversity in the profession, with only 6% of the state’s teachers identifying as African American compared to 18% of students; Latinx teachers only comprise 1% of the teacher population compared to 8% of the state’s students.

In addition to these challenges, the report states in part: “Educator shortages are exacerbated by many Michigan school districts’ reliance on long-term substitutes as well as acute shortages of daily substitutes. All of this has strained districts’ capacity to grow and sustain a stable educator workforce that serves all students and families across Michigan.”

Over 120 teachers and other stakeholders participated in small statewide groups to recommend solutions.

Key recommendations include:

  • Creating incentives or recruiting bonuses for new educators or those early in their careers.
  • Increasing support staff.
  • Providing equitable funding for school districts.
  • Reducing the use of standardized tests for teacher evaluations.
  • Reducing financial barriers for certification and re-certification.

“We appreciate the fine work done by the study’s partners – MEA, AFT Michigan and Middle Cities Education Association – as well as the consulting work of Public Policy Associates,” Dr. Michael Rice, Michigan state superintendent said in a press release. “The work shines a light on a major challenge in Michigan public education, namely, a substantial teacher shortage that has hurt public schools and reduced support for our children.”

Some educators called upon the state Legislature to take these recommendations into consideration.

“Too often, legislators think they know how to run a classroom just because they were once a student,” Heather Gauck, a special education teacher in Grand Rapids said at a recent news conference. “They need to take the time to listen to frontline educators before implementing policy.”

PPA’s report cites data from Launch Michigan’s 2019 statewide educator survey.

As CMF reported, Launch Michigan’s survey of more than 16,000 Michigan teachers, administrators and educational support professionals found that only 25% of participants would recommend teaching as a profession and 12% were considering leaving teaching in the next few years.

PPA’s report addresses some of these issues with its set of recommendations.

In December, Launch Michigan released its first set of statewide education policy recommendations, which included the creation of an equity fund to provide additional funding for students living in poverty and a literacy fund to help Michigan students read on grade level.

“We’re pleased that the PPA report lists steps and builds upon what we heard from educators last year,” Adam Zemke, president of Launch Michigan said. “These are important to identify because they speak to the heart of why we need to improve conditions for educators in our schools. That was something we heard loud and clear in the survey: We have a significant attraction and retention problem for educators in our schools and improving conditions for all teachers is vital to keeping them in the profession.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s 2021 budget proposal includes line items to increase teacher support and to fund recruitment of new teachers.

“We are committed to working with all interested parties to rebuild a profession that continues to be among the most honorable in our society, but which has been badly undermined and denigrated over the last half decade,” Rice said.

Want more?

Read PPA’s report.

Check out Launch Michigan’s educator survey and the group’s first set of statewide recommendations.

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