News Column

Michigan Teaching Jobs Few for New Grads

June 4, 2012

Lori Higgins

Samantha Stanley is hopeful that she'll get a teaching job in Michigan when she graduates from Eastern Michigan University and completes her student teaching next year.

But reality tells her it might be difficult.

During the 2010-11 academic year, teacher preparation programs in the state recommended 6,201 people for teacher certification. But only 30% of them -- or 1,862 people -- managed to get a job in a Michigan school.

The year before, just 28% of 5,429 were able to nab Michigan teaching jobs.

That's one of the key reasons the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) recommends extending a moratorium on allowing new teacher prep programs to open in the state. The state Board of Education is expected to take action on that recommendation this month.

The moratorium, which expired last year, would be reinstated and would run through August 2015. The state currently has 34 teacher preparation institutions.

"Given the decline in the employment of new teachers, current local district budget shortfalls and proposed teacher layoffs throughout the state, the current supply of teachers appears to exceed the demand," state Superintendent Mike Flanagan said in a memo to state board members in April.

Some of Stanley's friends graduated this spring, and she said the only ones who've gotten jobs are those who went out of state. Those who want to stay in Michigan either have taken substitute teaching jobs or are still looking. Some are considering going back to school to pursue a master's degree.

"I know it's going to be very difficult," said Stanley, who is from Idaho, but wants to stay in Michigan because her mother now lives here and she has other family in the state. "People aren't really leaving jobs and there's not that many job openings. But I think if you put time into researching and applying to places, it's not impossible."

Competition is indeed fierce, said Jim Powell, director of the School of Education at Ferris State University. Many districts statewide are laying off teachers, meaning students just graduating from college are competing with experienced teachers.

"It makes it much harder for our graduates to compete with that pool," Powell said.

Students are encouraged not to limit themselves to Michigan, given that the market is strong nationally, EMU officials say.

"Our students can find jobs if they are willing to move out of state," said Jann Joseph, dean of the College of Education at EMU.

Additionally, Joseph said, many charter schools in Michigan are hiring.

"The jobs that are difficult to find would be those in suburban schools," Joseph said. Many students in the teacher education program come out of these suburban schools and envision a teaching career "based on their own teachers," she said.

"That is not the new reality. We have been trying to prepare them for the jobs that will likely be available in urban schools with diverse populations."

At a state board meeting in May, Flora Jenkins, director of the Office of Professional Preparation and Certification Services at the MDE, said extending the moratorium -- first placed in 2005 and extended once since then -- would also allow her department to spend more time helping to improve the quality of the existing programs without having to spend time on efforts to bring in new institutions.

Board Secretary Nancy Danhof reminded her fellow board members about why the moratorium was put in place to begin with.

"We wanted to make certain that the programs we have, have high levels of rigor, high level of ability to address the needs of today's student in today classrooms. If we become so overpopulated with institutions, it is difficult with this staff to do the job they're supposed to do with oversight."



Source: (c)2012 the Detroit Free Press


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