New program put in place to address teacher shortages in Michigan

Classroom enrollment is down by 66%

Facing an ongoing shortage of teachers, dozens of school districts across the state are launching a new program that would make it easier to be an educator in Michigan.

The group realized they would have to change some things to attract more educators.

“When I was in the classroom, maybe we had about 30, 32 in the classroom,” said parent Tiffanie Baldridge.

Baldridge says she feels there’s always been a teacher shortage in Michigan. But her sixth-grade son, Carter’s generation, is really feeling it.

“The difference with his school is they are separating A and B days, so it’s not as many in the classroom,” Baldridge said.

According to the initiative, enrollment in the classroom is down by 66%.

“The educator shortage crisis in Michigan is among the worst in the county,” said Naomi Norman.

In response, 39 intermediate school districts and regional education agencies serving 63 counties are coming together to create a program called Talent Together.

On Tuesday (Dec. 6), they joined each other to make the announcement virtually. Wayne Resa Superintendent Daveda Colbert says the goal is to increase the number of teachers going into the pipeline statewide.

“We’re looking at ways for this to be a little different,” said Colbert. “Not what the traditional programming will look like if an individual went through a four or five-year education program.”

With over a million combined children being served, the hope is that the new partnership will attract new teachers with a new training model that will get those who qualify inside the classroom quicker than ever.

“Part of our goal is to increase the retention of these new teachers coming into the field and also our experienced educators in classrooms today,” said Associate Superintendent of Educational Services Beth Gonzalez.

Other incentives include more career advancement opportunities for existing educators and more competitive pay to draw diverse candidates to schools in both rural and urban areas.

“You may have always wanted to be a teacher, but you can’t quit your job and go back to school to become a teacher,” said Michigan Educator Workforce Initiative Founder Jack Elsey. “We have a solution for you.”

“Definitely starts with that,” Baldridge said. “But you can’t really put a dollar amount on that.”

The program is in the very early stages of development. But it’s expected to be fully up and running by fall 2023. Those interested in getting a head start can contact their local district to see if it’s one that’s participating.

About the Authors:

Victor Williams joined Local 4 News in October of 2019 after working for WOIO in Cleveland, OH, WLOX News in Biloxi, MS, and WBBJ in Jackson, TN. Victor developed a love for journalism after realizing he was a great speaker and writer at an early age.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.