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Michigan facing growing teacher shortage

Published: Jul. 13, 2021 at 5:38 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Even with the big funding increase Michigan is having trouble finding enough teachers. Not only are many choosing to find a new career others are quitting before they even get started.

MSU Education students say that while they have the passion to make a difference, low wages and the high cost of an education degree have created a financial struggle for many up and coming teachers.

“Unfortunately a statistic that was told to us through our classes a lot in college was 50% of teachers leave the field within the first 5 years. So, there’s just a lot of burn out. I just don’t think that for a lot of people there’s as much reward in it. I think you really have to be a passionate about it because obviously you aren’t going to be making a million dollars,” said MSU Education Graduate Dakota Halma.

The Michigan Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, says enrollment in Michigan’s Colleges of Education has dropped 50% in the last 15 years. Current teachers say their passion is what keeps them in the field.

“It is a lot of hard work but the outcome is so worth it to give back to society by helping the next generation grow up to be a positive influence on the community and teaching brings a lot of joy. It brings a lot of work but it brings a lot of joy too,” said Social Studies Teacher, Joe Foldenauer.

Science teacher Eric Zay says that the ability to make an impression on young people outweighs the cons modern teachers face.

“Sure there are other higher paid jobs or higher paid careers out there but nobody get’s into teaching to become rich,” said Zay.

Halma says she is happy to still be in education but her mental health was tested a she worked in an unpaid internship for a year to get certified.

“I was unhappy with the internship year the student teaching year I felt it was very overpriced but like I said you kind of have no choice,” said Halma.

The Michigan Department of Education has been working to create more alternative routes to getting a teaching license, with opportunities to be paid while doing so. The State Department of Education is trying to make up for the staffing gap by asking almost 37,000 formerly-certified teachers to come back to the classroom.

According to the National Education Association the average starting salary for teachers in Michigan is $37,549. The state is ranked 41st in the nation for starting salaries.

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