MEA launches Michigan Educator Project to hear from front lines about educator shortage

Research shows that Michigan ranks 41st nationally in starting teacher salary.
happy young teacher woman at elementary school teaching
happy young teacher woman at elementary school teaching( | WIS10)
Published: May. 6, 2021 at 12:09 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Michigan’s educator shortage continuing, the Michigan Education Association (MEA) has launched the Michigan Educator Project so the public can hear directly from front-line teachers and other education employees about what is driving the crisis.

Under the banner, “Recruit. Respect. Retain.” the new site includes videos from educators talking about the issues prompting workers to either exit the profession or choose different careers from the outset.

The video was recorded both before and during the pandemic.

“As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, we must recognize that while COVID-19 has worsened our educator shortage, the issues behind this crisis have been present for years,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “From teachers and counselors to bus drivers and paraprofessionals, every job in public education is essential – and increasingly difficult to fill with qualified, dedicated individuals.”

Some of the issues recognized by educators in videos on the new site include:

  • the lack of respect for educator expertise and decision making;
  • the overemphasis of standardized testing for both students and educators;
  • and cost barriers to entering the education profession.

On the financial front, research shows that Michigan ranks 41st nationally in starting teacher salary. Educators are earning just 84 cents on the dollar compared to other professionals with the same education and years of experience.

“As a state, we must address educator frustrations that are driving this shortage if we want to recruit and retain the best and brightest to this profession for the benefit of our students,” said Herbart.

“I know how important education is and I want to work with students to really empower them to eventually change the world,” said Brittany Perreault, an MSU education major who serves as president of MEA’s Aspiring Educators of Michigan program.

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