From recruitment to retention, legislators, administrators, academics, and activists weighed in on the challenges at hand.
On April 6, the SOE’s EdHub for Community and Professional Learning hosted a town hall that called together state government officials and leaders within the Detroit education community to discuss the current teacher shortage in Michigan.
“One of the major reasons for the ongoing teacher shortage is the decreasing number of students pursuing education degrees across the country,” write The Michigan Daily’s Roni Kane and Emma Moore, who reported on the town hall. “The DOE reported that 16,000 fewer students majored in K-12 education in the 2016-2017 school year compared with 2008-2009. Additionally, the average teacher salary in Michigan was $61,978 in 2017, but the average starting salary for new educators was $36,620.”
Since 2016, enrollment in teacher preparation programs has declined at U-M’s SOE, as well as MSU’s College of Education, and Central Michigan University. The pandemic only made the problem worse. “Statewide enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped by 70% in the past eight years,” write Kane and Moore.
Panelists for the town hall included Arlyssa Heard, Deputy Director and Lead Parent Organizer, 482Forward; Terrence Martin, Sr., President, Detroit Federation of Teachers; Vice President, American Federation of Teachers; Dr. Elizabeth Birr Moje, Dean and Professor, University of Michigan School of Education; Dayna Polehanki, State Senator, Michigan Legislature; and Dr. Michael Rice, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction, Michigan Department of Education. SOE’s Don Peurach, professor of educational policy, leadership and innovation moderated the panel.
Summarizing the different vantage points represented on the panel, Peurach said of overcoming the teacher shortage, “It will require bridging from high school to college to career, considering viable, rigorous alternatives to entering the teaching profession, improving compensation and incentives in approving working conditions, in social respect.”
To fix the issue, Martin said that lawmakers must pursue long-term solutions to support teachers and provide children with a good education.
“We have to come up with solutions, and we have to come up with them quickly,” Martin said. “We don’t need more Band-Aids, and I’ll just say teaching is the most important profession because it touches all other professions. It enables all other professions. So if we really believe in all children and their capacity to grow and learn and lead our future, then we need to invest in our teachers.”
Watch the full recording of the EdHub town hall, “The Teacher Shortage in Michigan: Framing Challenges, Envisioning Solutions.”