Michigan's average teacher salary has dropped for the fifth year in a row, according to data recently released by the state. Public school teachers are hit the hardest.
David Crim is with the Michigan Education Association. He says salary cuts drive young people away from pursuing education as a career.
"We're losing some of the best and brightest young teachers because they can't afford to pay off student loans while paying the cost of housing, food, and other essentials," Crim said.
He says the number of teachers leaving the profession within the first five years is at an all-time high.
Crim thinks state and federal policymakers need to commit to supporting public education.
"In the last 15 years, there's been a spectacular disinvestment in Michigan public education," Crim said, citing Governor Snyder's 21st Century Education Commission as the most recent example.
Crim is not optimistic about the future of public schools under the new presidential administration. He and other public education advocates have spoken out against Michigan native Betsy DeVos's appointment as U.S. Secretary of Education.
"I wish I could give a positive outlook to the Trump administration and Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, but I can't based on what Mr. Trump and Ms. DeVos have said regarding their plans for education. They have espoused a concept where $20 billion would be put into vouchers and for-profit charters across the country. That's their vision for public education," Crim said.
Michigan has the highest number of charter schools in the United States. Their track record is still controversial, as some investigations have revealed poor academic quality and general lack of regulation and oversight.