by Scott McClallen
Michigan’s State Board of Education adopted a resolution supporting the recruitment and retention recommendations issued by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE).
“The state legislature has the responsibility to help rebuild the teaching profession in Michigan,” State Board of Education President Dr. Casandra Ulbrich said in a statement. “They have an opportunity to make a real difference for current and future educators.”
MDE has provided the legislature with options to alleviate the teacher shortage compounded by COVID-19 and a tight labor force.
State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice and a group of statewide education directors co-signed a letter urging the legislature to act quickly to appropriate necessary funds for strategies to reverse the teacher shortage.
“The state legislature needs to address this matter strongly, quickly, and straightforwardly in a budget supplemental by March 20 that would begin to put Michigan schools back on a firm foundation for years to come,” Rice said in a statement. “There are 68 days until spring. The clock is ticking and we need to act.
MDE-recommended strategies to the state legislature include:
- Regulatory relief to permit more out-of-state teachers to apply for Michigan teacher certification.
- District grants to provide stipends for mentors to support Grow Your Own programs and teachers in the first three years, a competitive grant to an intermediate school district to partner with MDE to develop mentoring parameters and virtual training, and to provide regional training/support to ensure mentor quality.
- Tuition reimbursement for current college students and support staff members who aspire to become teachers.
- Student loan repayment for recently certified college graduates who commit to careers in education and for current teachers who are working to pay off college.
- Grants to districts for Grow Your Own programs for support staff who aspire to be teachers.
- Grants to districts or directly to student teachers for paid teacher internships to offset potential loss in earnings by candidates.
- Stipends to student teachers to relocate and pay for housing in high-needs school districts for up to one year.
- Grants to educator preparation providers to expand Welcome Back Proud Michigan Educator campaign. The grants would offset costs to review transcripts and provide a mechanism to complete updated requirements for individuals who completed a program, or almost completed a program, and need a boost to reach certification.
- Reimbursement for teacher certificate transfer and testing fees for educators relocating to Michigan.
- Grants to districts to support Grow Your Own programs for students in grades 6-12 to inspire interest in teaching and scholarships for high school seniors who aspire to and commit to a career in teaching.
- Revive and strengthen the teacher preparation pipeline in the Upper Peninsula and Northern Lower Peninsula.
- Expand eligibility for child-care reimbursement to individuals enrolled in teacher preparation programs.
In its resolution, the State Board of Education affirmed that “an investment of $300 million to $500 million over five years is necessary to increase the recruitment and retention of high-quality educators from diverse backgrounds; revitalize the profession through support for thousands of teachers and teacher candidates; and provide a sustained investment in these initiatives to ensure that the demand for high quality educators to serve all of Michigan’s children would be met more enduringly.”
The statewide education organizations that co-signed the letter include: AFT Michigan; Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators; Michigan Association of School Boards; Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals; Michigan Association of Superintendents & Administrators; Michigan Education Association; Michigan Elementary & Middle School Principals Association; Michigan School Business Officials; and Middle Cities Education Association.
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.