Michigan keeps losing teachers. Educators hope apprenticeship programs can stop that.

By Allison R. Donahue, Michigan Advance

Dozens of intermediate school district (ISD) superintendents are banding together to help plug the leaky teacher pipeline and address the state’s educator shortage. 

Thirty-nine ISDs have created the “talent together” partnership to offer solutions to make it easier for Michiganders to become educators. This is the largest education collaboration of its kind in state history, serving students in 63 counties statewide.

The group of education leaders want to make use of apprenticeship programs between state colleges and universities and local ISDs. Apprentices still will need to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree, graduate from an educator preparation program and pass a teacher certification test.

“Registered apprenticeships are a proven pathway to prepare professionals in a multitude of careers, and we are enthusiastic to have them available now to help us address the teacher shortage for school districts across Michigan,” State Superintendent Michael Rice said last month. 

Michigan has been struggling with a leaky teacher pipeline for years. There have been efforts to address it with legislation and investments in recruitment programs through the state budget, but fewer people are going into the profession. 

Rice said a registered apprenticeship program will help aspiring teachers earn money while they get in-classroom training without lowering state requirements for teachers. 

“We must invite more people to join the profession and do it in a way that is financially barrier-free,” Eric Hoppstock, superintendent of Berrien Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA), said during a roundtable discussion Tuesday morning. 

According to the state, from 2008-2016, enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped by more than two-thirds. A February 2020 report released by the Michigan Education Association (MEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) found that there was a nearly 25% decline in newly issued teacher certificates between the 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 school years.

“The more we can make sure that starting a career in education is a financially viable career — from the moment training begins — the more likely we are to convince the workforce of the future to consider becoming a teacher,” said Jack Elsey, founder of the Michigan Educator Workforce Initiative, a non-profit supporting the “talent together” partnership.

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Michigan Advance maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Susan Demas for questions: [email protected]. Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.

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