‘We’re at a crisis in education:’ MEA says teacher shortage is severe

GRAND REPIDS, Michigan – The shortage of teachers in Michigan is a crisis, said Paula Herbart, president of the Michigan Education Association. As a result, the organization, which represents 120,000 educators, held a news conference Monday morning to address the growing problem.

“This survey proves what we already knew: Michigan teacher support staff and other public school staff are at a tipping point,” Herbart said during a virtual press service. “The lack of teachers affects both students and teachers on a daily basis. This increases the already enormous pressure caused by meeting the academic, social and emotional needs of students. ”

Emma White of Emma White Research conducted a survey in which she asked 2,600 Michigan school staff about job satisfaction and compliance, first in August 2021 and then in January 2022.

“We’ve seen a pretty sharp drop in job satisfaction since August: from 60% saying they’re satisfied with their work, to less than half in six months,” White said. “When we did this in August, educators were already feeling very dissatisfied with the conditions that educators were facing, and we saw that dissatisfaction was growing as well.”

She went on to say that not many teachers remain in the industry. The poll found that others plan to leave in the next few years, and for a number of reasons. About 67 percent said they were “very concerned” about the shortage of teachers and other staff.

“They are also concerned about student behavior and mental health issues,” White said. “They are worried about their own aid payments. They are concerned about attacks on teachers because of things like camouflage and problems with curricula. ”

She added that they are concerned about school funding, standardized testing, classes, gun violence, school safety, COVID-19 and the lack of parental involvement.

“And one that’s not financial at all, which replaces Michigan’s teacher evaluation system with a more efficient and fair one,” White said. “We’ve known for a long time that one of the things that caused dissatisfaction was how the process worked.”

According to her, Herbart again supported Governor Whitmer’s budget plan, which prioritizes conservation and teacher satisfaction. Part of the budget will be two-year bonuses for all school staff, including bus drivers, security school staff, health workers and paramedics.

It was noted that the chairman of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives opposed it. However, Herbart reiterated that bonuses are needed along with salary increases and subscription bonuses.

“We are in a crisis of education in the sense that we are not in a crisis of other education as well. We want to have educated citizenship, ”Herbart said. “And for this we need teachers in the classrooms. For the past 25 years, we have underfunded education. This governor has made this a strong priority. And one of the things she does is in a crisis, you attack the heavy bleeding first, and that’s where we are. “

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