LANSING, Mich. — The number of students choosing to go into education is down - and it's contributing to a shortage of teachers across the state.
That’s according to leaders in the education community.
So, what’s at the root of the issue?
And which districts in our area are impacted?
Paula Herbart Is the president of the Michigan Education Association.
Herbart says there’s been drastic a decline in college students who want to teach.
“Over the last 15 years, enrollment in Michigan’s colleges of education has dropped to almost 50%, by 50% of what it typically was,” Herbart.
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One of the reasons she points to is the fact that student teaching is a requirement to become certified...but student teachers don't get paid.
That’s a big, short-coming according to Herbart, who says other professions pay their students to get on-the-job experience.
“These students have to student teach for a full year. They have to pay a full load of credits. They are working a full-time job as a student teacher. Some school districts and some colleges make them sign off saying they will take no other job,” said Herbart.
Herbart says this policy makes going into education both unattractive and unaffordable for many people.
Brittany Perrault is currently an education major at Michigan State University.
She’s been working to make paid student teaching a requirement.
“Its difficult when you can't hold down another job. How do you pay bills? How do you secure housing and food and necessities? So its been really big issue in Michigan and across the country. Our members at various colleges and universities across the state have been talking to lawmakers about what we can do to get our student teachers compensated for the work they’re doing,” Perrault.
The MEA president says the trickle-down effect of a shrinking pool of people majoring in education is directly related to the teacher shortage.
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That impact is being felt in Holt.
Superintendent Dave Hornak tells me there currently has eight or nine positions that need to be filled.
Hornak says the pool of qualified candidates is smaller and it’s a competitive market in terms of attracting and retaining teachers.
But in Lansing - it's a slightly different story.
HR director Suzy Corbin says the district has been aggressive about maintaining the staff levels they need.
And, it's working.
“We’ve been very proactive over the last several years with the HR department as far as filling positions by working early with our staff to get notices for retirements and resignations and we’ve done our own career fairs for the last couple of years,” says Corbin.
In all—Corbin says there are about 10 open positions, but she expects all of those to be filled by the start of the school year.
In other neighboring districts like Waverly there are 10 open positions.
In Haslett, five teaching positions are posted.
Okemos has four posted.
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