(WXYZ) — If you have a teaching certificate and you aren’t using it, you probably have or will get a letter in the mail from the Michigan Department of Education.
The state is writing to former teachers, encouraging them to come back to the classroom as the nation deals with the ongoing teacher shortage.
The letter quotes Malala Yousafzai saying, “One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.”
“Malala is an amazing feminist and activist but one thing she has always been about is equality and systemically so,” said former Detroit teacher and counselor Joy Mohammed.
She says the Department of Education should’ve left the quote out of the letter they are sending former teachers.
“For the state to be looking for teachers when they are systemically an inequitable system seems ironic,” she adds.
Mohammed left the profession back in 2017 for several reasons including the lack of room for growth and pay.
“I was not progressing financially like I needed to,” she adds.
She’s now in her 3rd year of law school at Detroit Mercy and has no plans on looking back, so she threw the letter out.
On the letter, there is a QR code on the bottom left corner of the letter that takes you to a form to complete if you’re interested in potential employment.
MDE says this is one of many initiatives related to teacher recruitment and retention.
According to the Educator Workforce Data Report from the MDE, there are currently 185,684 people with a current valid teaching certificate but only 86,300 are currently employed and teaching.
“As someone who spent 12 and a half years in the classroom, 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,” says State Representative Matt Koleszar.
Rep. Koleszar also received this letter.
“I often say I never left (teaching) I’m simply fighting for the profession,” he adds.
He says he’s standing up for public education. At the moment he is working on House Bill 4369.
“Another Democrat and I have a bill package that would create a teacher pathway and give tuition assistance to professionals who choose to get their teaching certificates,” said Rep. Koleszar.
Mohammed says it’s going to take a lot of legislation and programs for the state to retain and recruit.
“People go into education because they have passion, not because they have generation wealth. So they need to make it accessible and economical,” she adds.
7 Action News reached out to the Detroit Federation of Teachers for a comment on the recent letters that are going on. They provided us with the following statement:
Our union is very thankful that many of our retirees have returned to the profession because they bring a wealth of knowledge and skillsets earned over the course of their careers. We would be in dire straits without our retirees. 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. 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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