Watching the videos of educators talking about the educator shortage on www.MichiganEducatorProject.org, it’s readily apparent that solutions to this crisis won’t come quickly, simply or cheaply.
For proof, look no further than the recently introduced Senate Bill 418, which would grant two years of school employee retirement service credit for each year worked during this pandemic. This bill, sponsored by Sen. Curtis Hertel and his Senate Democratic colleagues, is based on input received from educators in Hertel’s mid-Michigan district. Critics will focus on the bill’s price tag, with early estimates at more than $1 billion – but that shows an understanding by the bill sponsors about the scale of the problem and the need to take significant steps to address compensation issues for all school employees. There is also some question about whether added retirement credit will send late career educators to earlier retirements, outweighing the retention benefits for those at the outset of their careers. However, the intent is clear – something major needs to be done to reverse the trend of educators leaving the profession, especially during the pandemic.
There are certainly other ideas about how to address the shortage, from student loan forgiveness to reducing teacher prep costs or paying student teaching interns to reduced stakes around standardized testing. It’s critical that teachers and education support professionals across the state talk to policymakers about our ideas to solve this issue – which you can do today at www.MichiganEducatorProject.org.
In other news related to the educator shortage:
- Bills purported to address the substitute teacher shortage by making any employee of a school district eligible to substitute – and banning collective bargaining over the impact of that subject for teachers and support staff – may see movement in the State House this week. Contact your representative and urge them to oppose HBs 4293-94 which are not real solutions to the long-term shortage of substitute teachers – instead, the focus should be on increased compensation for subs.
- The Legislature still has not taken action on urgent bills about teacher evaluation and 3rd grade reading retention – please contact your lawmakers today and urge them to take up these bills before the end of this school year.