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Michigan schools Superintendant calls teacher shortage 'substantial'

Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-19 13:49:46-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Iasia Lovelace will be a bright-eyed kindergarten teacher for Detroit Public Schools Community District his fall.

“When you hear teachers say things, like 'I'm just burned out from too many issues kids, have mental health issues, long hours,' have you ever felt any of that?” asked Carolyn Clifford.

“There is a lot of challenges right, but I always try my best to make sure my students do feel loved and make sure they do feel challenged,” said Lovelace.

Thomas Morgan is from Michigan Education Association. “So many educators have reached a breaking point and they just can't do it anymore and many of them are leaving the field for the private sector or other jobs,” said Morgan.

That exit strategy has created a "teacher shortage" crisis and it's being spotlighted on news programs across the country and here in metro Detroit.

A poll of 2,600 Michigan Education Association members listed the top three concerns of teachers as staff shortages, mental health issues and not enough pay.

“So how bad is it here in Michigan?” asked WXYZ’s Carolyn Clifford.

“It's substantial in Michigan, no question about it, and it has been for the last handful of years exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Dr. Michael Rice, State Superintendent of Michigan.

He says all areas are suffering from rural, urban and suburban districts, due to years of underfunding.

“We're playing catch up, in terms of educational resources,” said Rice.

But Dr. Rice says resources from the new budget including $9,150 in per pupil funding, the highest in history, will help Michigan turn the corner.

In the Detroit Public School Community District, COVID-19 dollars and the ability to train and certify teachers from within is a game changer.

Jocelyn Inge grew up in Ann Arbor, but she chose to come to teach in Detroit.

“It was kind of a culture shock for me, but I ended up falling in love with the students and the community and I knew this was the right place for me,” said teacher Jocelyn Inge.

For the first time in years, DPSCD will be fully staffed at the start of the school year.

“Over the last five years we've seen a $15,000 increase in teacher pay, our beginner teacher is now over $50,000,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti Superintendent of DPSCD.

“I'm very excited to become a kindergarten teacher and I hope to make DPSCD proud,” said Inge.

Dr. Rice says it's that type of spirit we need more of; he acknowledges the teacher shortage problem will not be solved overnight but at least Michigan is heading in the right direction.