State reaches out to retired teachers asking them to return to classroom amid shortage

Posted at 5:40 AM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 05:40:17-04

(WXYZ) — The Michigan Department of Education is trying to address a teacher shortage by reaching out to people who left the profession.

They are sending out letters to retired educators, pleading that they return to the classroom, if only to make a difference in a child's life.

Just a few weeks ago, Eastpointe schools administrators had to switch every student to online learning because a lot of teachers resigned without notice.

They did eventually return to in-person classes, but the district is still facing a shortage with more than 20% of teacher positions open.

Joy Mohammed walked away from her Detroit teaching job in 2017. She said the pay was terrible and there was no room for growth.

"People go into education because they have passion, not because they have generation wealth. So they need to make it accessible and economical," she said.

Mohammed is one of the thousands of former Michigan teachers who got a letter in the mail asking them to come back to the classroom.

She said her answer is no, and her current focus is on getting a law degree.

"There was no consequence to me keep that letter or consider using the QR code or anything," Mohammed said.

State Rep. Matt Koleszar also received the letter.

"As someone who spent 12 1/2 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," he said.

According to a data report from the Department of Education, there are currently over 185,600 people with valid teaching certificates, but only 86,300 are employed and teaching.

Mohammed said it's going to take a lot of legislation and programs for the state to retain and recruit. House Bill 4369 is a start, she said.

"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," Koleszar said.

The Michigan Education Association, the largest teacher's union in the state, said enrollment in Michigan's colleges of education has dropped 50% in the last 15 years.