Survey shows widespread concern over educator shortage among teachers, school staff

Results of 2,600-educator survey show need for Whitmer budget proposals addressing educator shortage and student mental health

EAST LANSING – The Michigan Education Association today 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.

“This survey proves what we already knew: Michigan’s teachers, support staff and other public school employees are at a breaking point,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “The educator shortage is having a daily impact on students and educators alike. 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.

“State leaders must take action today to retain current educators and recruit new ones,” Herbart said. “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.

“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.”

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. Key findings include:

    • 91% 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%).
    • One-in-five teachers expects to leave education for another career in the next two to three years, an increase of 9% since August. Another 14% plan to retire.
    • When asked what problems the educator shortage has created in the past year:
      • 88% said the loss of classroom prep time.
      • 73% said the need to have support staff fill in as substitute teachers.
      • 61% said cancelled or reduced bus routes.
      • 56% said the need to have administrators covering classes.
    • When asked which positions were experiencing more vacancies than usual:
      • 92% said substitute teachers.
      • 86% said support staff.
      • 71% said teachers.
    • When asked what measures would increase retention of educators a great deal:
      • 85% said increased salary and benefits.
      • 73% said a significant retention bonus.
      • 64% said replacing Michigan’s current educator evaluation system with one that is more effective and fair.
      • 61% said hiring more staff to reduce workloads.

Details about the survey results are available here and a recording of the press conference is available here.


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