Did the State Superintendent Advocate Detroit Schools Hire More Teachers?

Michigan Department of Education says CapCon headline was inaccurate

Michigan Department of Education State Superintendent Michael Flanagan. Image via www.Michigan.gov.

The Michigan Department of Education is disputing a Jan. 16 headline in Michigan Capitol Confidential that read: “State Superintendent Advocates Hiring More Teachers In Detroit.”

The headline was based on a September MDE press release State Superintendent Michael Flanagan put out after a newspaper story alleged Detroit Public Schools had a teacher shortage.

The press release stated that Flanagan said there were ways to address the dramatic teacher shortages causing large classroom sizes.

“There are ways in place now that can bring in teachers to fill the vacancies at Detroit Public Schools,” Flanagan said in the press release. “I think it’s an easier transition than most people think.”

Flanagan cited different ways that districts could bring in more teachers to the classroom, such as getting certified teachers out of the profession to return.

Later in the release, Flanagan stated, “There is an urgent need here and now, and no child deserves to be in a classroom with 45 other kids trying to learn.”

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Martin Ackley, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Education, claimed the headline was inaccurate and released the following statement:

I am attaching the MDE press release that you reference in your CapCon article 'State Superintendent Advocates Hiring More Teachers in Detroit' …. Nowhere in this press release does the State Superintendent advocate, or call for, the hiring of more teachers in Detroit. Nor, has the State Superintendent made any such statements to that effect, since.

Mike was responding to a media story claiming that DPS had 100 vacancies it couldn’t fill, presumably in specific curriculum areas that it has had difficulty filling.

The press release read: 'There are ways in place now that can bring in teachers to fill the vacancies at Detroit Public Schools,' Flanagan said.

He didn’t say that DPS should fill them – that is a district decision.

What the State Superintendent said was that for DPS, or any district, that was having difficulty filling teacher shortage areas, there are ways in which to do that.

Some districts, especially rural and urban districts, have difficulty filling teaching positions in certain areas: science, math, special education, to name a few. The press release was identifying a number of ways to help those districts fill those teaching positions.

Here is the press release that the CapCon story was based on: 

LANSING – State Superintendent Mike Flanagan today says there are ways to address the dramatic teacher shortages that are causing large classroom sizes at Detroit Public Schools, and he is calling on the Legislature, businesses, and career professionals to help.

“There are ways in place now that can bring in teachers to fill the vacancies at Detroit Public Schools,” Flanagan said. “I think it’s an easier transition than most people think.”

Flanagan was responding to a media story over the weekend that reported Detroit Public Schools (DPS) having over 100 teacher vacancies that are resulting in classroom sizes of up to 45-50 students.

Getting retired teachers back into the classrooms; encouraging outside career professionals to transition into teaching; having businesses allow their highly-skilled employees to do teaching sabbaticals; and bringing this issue to the attention of certified teachers currently out of the profession to return.

“Teaching is the most noble and important of professions and I have no doubt there are people out there who are willing to make a difference,” Flanagan said. “There are alternate routes for quality people to step up, step in, and teach our kids.”

Ideally, every student needs the highest-quality teacher, Flanagan said, adding: “There is an urgent need here and now, and no child deserves to be in a classroom with 45 other kids trying to learn.”

Flanagan is calling on the state Legislature to pass Senate Bill 907, which would continue to allow retired teachers in critical shortage subject areas to return to the classroom without jeopardizing their retirement benefits.

Individuals with Bachelor’s degrees also can utilize several options in order to become a teacher in Michigan.