By STEPHEN INGBER
Capital News Service
LANSING – Michigan is having trouble keeping its teachers, Steven Cook, the president of the state’s largest educators’ union, said.
“There is a large demand for science and special education teachers,” Cook said. “Teachers are going to New York, Pennsylvania, and California.”
The Michigan Education Association (MEA) represents 157,000 teachers and school employees.
After teachers leave the state, however, some eventually return to take on teaching positions in the state.
“I have hired many Michigan-educated teachers from out of state,” said Joseph Powers, superintendent of Crawford AuSable Public Schools, based in Grayling. “Many teachers are returning from Arizona, Nevada and Georgia to teach in our district.”
Due to his district’s expanded budget for early childhood education, Powers needs more preschool-kindergarten teachers. The district had no issues retaining teachers, he said.
Joann Spry, superintendent of the Cadillac Public Schools district, said “We have been fortunate enough to fill all our vacancies ranging from special education to a foreign language position.”
Cook said due to cuts in education during Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration, students are suffering. Educators have been adversely affected by large class size and a lack of resources.
Michigan spends $10,700 on average per public school student, according to the 2010 census. The amount being spent on per Michigan student is more than that of 20 other states.
The 2010 census ranks Michigan in the top fifth for education spending but the bottom third for math and English test scores.
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a free market-oriented think tank in Midland, Michigan teachers have the second-highest pay in the nation when cost of living is factored in.
Data from the National Education Association says that based only on salary, however, Michigan teachers are the seventh highest paid, an average $63,023 with New York on top at $71,633.
Central Michigan University is promoting in-state teaching opportunities. Its career office reports that it’s posted more job openings than in previous years.
“Teaching jobs exist — hundreds in Michigan, hundreds of thousands nationwide,” said Dale-Elizabeth Pehrsson, dean of the Central Michigan University College of Education and Human Services.
The job outlook nationally for teacher growth this decade is 7 percent, which is half the estimate of 14 percent for employment overall, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Growth is expected to stay steady in the Midwest and Northeast where teacher pay is the highest and grow at a faster pace in the South and West.
Valerie Kipp of Lake Orion, a recent graduate of the Michigan State University College of Education, said there are pros and cons to teaching in every state.
“Colorado specifically chooses MSU teachers and recruits heavily at our school,” Kipp said. As a future special education teacher, she said she feels that special education positions in the state and around the country are in high demand.
Even though she prefers to stay in the state, she will be flexible when she starts searching for jobs, said Kipp. She student teaches in the Rochester Community School District.