State superintendent: Invest $300-$500 million in Michigan to address teacher shortage

Posted at 8:36 AM, Nov 10, 2021

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Board of Education is zeroing in on the state's ongoing teacher shortage.

It's been a problem that's been plaguing districts around the state, and in some cases, leading to canceled in-person class.

The state superintendent is suggesting an investment of $300-$500 million over the next five years to recruit and retain more teachers.

Dr. Michael Rice says supporting student-teachers as they earn their credentials is one key way to keep people on the teaching track.

"We need to re-invest now. We need to rebuild the teacher profession," Rice said.

It's a rebuilding that he said will take time. The state board of education is calling for the investment as Michigan has seen an uptick in early retirements and teachers leaving the field altogether since the pandemic started.

The teacher shortage now, Rice said, is glaringly clear.

They are even reaching out to retired educators and those with expiring certificates, trying to bring people back in the classroom.

Those are people like former Detroit teacher Joy Mohammed, who said last month she won't be returning.

"I was not progressing financially like I needed to," she said.

One way Rice suggests turning the tide is more state funding of childcare for educators.

"If the only thing that's blocking you from doing your student-teaching is childcare for a semester or a year, it is in the interest of the state to provide you with some childcare for a brief period of time so you can serve children," Rice said.

He also suggests making it easier for teachers certified out of state to teach in Michigan.

In Roseville, the superintendent said they were already at 33 retirements or resignations this past winter. Compare that to just seven for the entire 2018-19 school year.

The pandemic has only made the problem worse.

Rice said in terms of recovery, it could take a decade to get back to normal.