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Michigan teacher shortage: having all certified teachers in some areas “a pipe dream”

The number of Michigan public school teachers has shrunk by nearly 9 percent, a loss of around 10,000 jobs, since the 2004-05 school year.

Michigan expects there will be a shortage of teachers in certain subjects this school year. Early childhood, special education, foreign language and a variety of occupational teachers are facing a “critical” shortage.

“Ideally I’m looking for bilingual certified educators. I know that’s a pipe dream to think I’ll fill every seat with a certified person,” Margaret Trimer-Hartley, chief administrative officer of Escuela Avancemos!, said.

Escuela Avancemos! is a Spanish immersion charter school in southwest Detroit.  She’s spreading the message far and wide. She wants great, Spanish-speaking teachers.

But right now, it’s tough to fill these positions, creating an odd sort of courtship among teachers and administrators.

“You know we’re all like, ‘No, I want you. What grade do you want to teach? I need 3rd, but ok I’ll give you 2nd, because we need great people to choose us,” Trimer-Hartley said.

What if she can’t find a certified, bilingual teacher?

“I want a Spanish speaking teacher,” Trimer-Hartley said, “If I can’t get either of those I want a really great wonderful educator who is state certified. If I can’t get that the state does allow for some emergency credentialing.”

There are ways people without a traditional teaching degree can work in the classroom to help ease the shortage.

Here’s the list of expected “critical” shortage subject areas:

  • Early Childhood Education (Pre-Kindergarten Programs)
  • Special Education – All Categories
  • World Languages – Including Bilingual, English as a Second Language, American Sign Language, and Native American Languages
  • Occupational – Therapeutic Services
  • Occupational – Cosmetology
  • Occupational – Hospitality
  • Occupational – Construction Trade
  • Occupational – Public Safety/ Protective Services
  • Occupational – Automobile Technician (NATEF Certified)
  • Occupational – Welding, Brazing, and Soldering
  • Occupational – Graphics and Printing Technology and Communications
  • Occupational – Agriculture, Agriculture Operations and Related Science
  • Occupational – Collision Repair Technician (NATEF Certified)
Lindsey Smith helps lead the station's Enterprise Team. She previously served as Michigan Radio’s Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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