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Teacher shortage made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic

With a surge of teachers retiring because of the pandemic, schools are struggling to find replacements.
Published: Apr. 1, 2021 at 8:15 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The nationwide teacher shortage is being thrown into crisis mode by the pandemic. Dorinda Carter Andrews from MSU’s College of Education said that there was already a shortage before the pandemic hit the profession.

“We were in a teacher shortage mode pre COVID,” Andrews said. “So I think that has exacerbated during COVID, and whenever we’ll be able to call it post COVID, simply because teachers are having to contend with the experience of teaching in a pandemic.”

It’s looking even more grim as teacher programs across the country are seeing a decline in enrollment. Including the MSU College of Education, named number one in the nation for years.

Andrews said, “Across the state, we know that young people are not as interested in enrolling into teacher preparation programs.”

With a surge of teachers retiring because of the pandemic, schools are struggling to find replacements.

Why aren’t people as intrested in becoming teachers? David Crimm from the Michigan Education Association says it’s not just the pandemic.

“That’s the result of an attack on the profession over, as I say the last decade,” Crimm said. “Wages, salaries have been stagnant, pension benefits and health care benefits have been attacked, as well as the collective bargaining rights … So a lot of college students have looked at that and decided they don’t want to go into teaching.”

Many interns have also not gotten in-person teaching experience because of virtual learning. “Teach for America” -- which recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools across the country -- says it’s gotten fewer applications for its fall 2021 program compared with last year.

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