In February, MEA released a statewide survey of nearly 2,600 educators, with the vast majority of those surveyed saying the state’s acute educator shortage and its impact on students is the most pressing issue facing Michigan schools.
Ninety-one percent of respondents said they were extremely or very concerned about the educator shortage, followed by concerns about student behavior and mental health (88%) and teacher and staff pay and benefits (84%).
“State leaders must take action today to retain current educators and recruit new ones,” MEA President Paula Herbart told journalists from dozens of media outlets at a virtual press conference. “That begins with increasing compensation for all school employees, politicians listening to the voices of educators when crafting education policy and respecting our public school educators for the professionals they are.”
The most worrisome finding of the latest research showed sharp decreases in educator job satisfaction and increases in those saying they planned to leave the profession compared to just six months ago. Staff shortages already are having a daily impact on students and educators alike, Herbart noted.
“This survey proves what we already knew: Michigan’s teachers, support staff and other public school employees are at a breaking point,” Herbart said. “This is adding to already overwhelming pressure caused by meeting students’ academic, social and emotional needs while also dealing with COVID-19, unfair evaluations, standardized testing, the threat of school violence and so much more.”
Aside from emphasizing the pressing reality of the educator shortage, the survey pointed to solutions to this crisis that have broad support from teachers and other educators — and are reflected in Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent budget proposals.
“Educators are asking for real solutions to this crisis, and Governor Whitmer’s budget proposals are a major first step to helping recruit, retain and respect educators, so we can support every Michigan student,” Herbart said.
Nearly 2,600 pre-K-12 teachers and support staff, school counselors, social workers and therapists, as well as higher education faculty and staff, participated in the statewide survey Jan. 25-28, conducted by Emma White Research.