Michigan is writing letters to former teachers encouraging them to come back to the classroom amid a nationwide teacher shortage.
The state’s Department of Education is asking those with teaching certificates to complete a survey if they are “interested in being contacted by school districts to consider vacancies,” according to one letter.
The letter, signed by State Superintendent Michael F. Rice, said that the shortage is nationwide, not just in Michigan.
The letter also includes a Malala Yousafzai quote, “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
There are currently more than 185,000 people with a valid teaching license, but just over 86,000 are currently employed in a teaching position, according to a data report from the Michigan Department of Education. Additionally, 52% of those who have a teaching certificate are age 65 or older but aren’t employed in a teaching position.
State Rep. Matt Koleszar of Michigan told ABC 7 that he spent more than 12 years teaching and is now “fighting for the profession.”
“It is such a rewarding profession but unfortunately outside forces have done a lot to make this profession less desirable for young people to go into,” Koleszar said.
He is working on legislation that would give tuition assistance to individuals who get teaching certificates.
The Detroit Federation of Teachers (DFT) said it is grateful for retirees who have returned to the profession.
“We would be in dire straits without our retirees,” DFT Executive Vice President Lakia Wilson told ABC 7. “What is conflicting is the fact that our legislators have stripped many benefits from the profession of education: pension, seniority, payroll deducted union dues and subjective evaluations.”
“When the state issues a clarion call to retirees to return to work, this brings attention to what we as a state need to do to address challenges in education,” Wilson added. “Our classroom and school shortages have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. We need help! Yes, we are grateful that retirees are willing to sacrifice to bridge the gap!”
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