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School districts working together to solve Michigan's teacher shortage

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio

More than three dozen Michigan school districts are teaming up to find a solution to a statewide teacher shortage.

Educators say fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to a decline in interest in teacher prep programs.

“This is real for districts...urban and rural,” said Alena Zachery-Ross, superintendent of the Ypsilanti Community School District.

District leaders are hoping the ‘Talent Together’ partnership could be a solution.

Organizers say the consortium behind the partnership is the largest education collaboration of its kind in state history, encompassing 39 school districts with more than a million students.

The partnership combines apprenticeships and other pathways to attract people to the teaching profession. The program includes a variety of options for aspiring teachers, including those without a college degree. Supporters predict the program could attract hundreds of new teachers during the next five years.

“It’s a ‘learn and earn’ model that places participants in a continuum of instructional roles,” said Wanda Cook-Robinson, superintendent of Oakland Schools.

Doug Pratt is a spokesman for the Michigan Education Association. He said teachers’ union officials are aware of the existence of the plan, but not aware of any specifics.

But Pratt adds the MEA “is happy to work with anyone on solutions to the educator shortage.”

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.