State Policy: It's hurting local school districts 2016.04.20

A recent article in the Detroit Free Press mentioned the shortage of teachers in some areas of Michigan and around the country. Fewer college students are choosing education as a career and many school districts are having trouble finding good candidates.

“If I can’t offer teachers what they need,” a school administrator said, “it’s hard to attract them.”

“We aren’t doing a good job on selling this as a career,” another one stated.

Perhaps the State of Michigan isn’t doing a good job of selling the value of a public education.

Instead, legislators are spending a billion dollars of taxpayer funding every year on charter schools, according to a Free Press story, without the oversight placed on public schools.

It’s almost as though the politicians in Lansing are saying, “Let the established school districts tough it out. We’re trying something new.”

It’s not that state education officials have forgotten about public schools. Not at all. They’re demanding that teachers prepare every student for college and threatening their jobs if they don’t.

It’s little wonder that fewer students are saying, “I want to be a teacher when I grow up.”

Morenci teachers are paying dearly for the changes in state policy that have been instituted over the years. It starts with the “school of choice” legislation that allows students to attend a neighboring district that has a different sports program, for example, and allows easy departure from the home district due to a dispute with a staff member.

The legislation was designed to allow for better academic options, but that’s seldom the reason given for changing schools.  No matter the reason, it leads to fewer dollars for the home district. Currently, when a student leaves a district, state funding follows the child immediately.

Regardless of state funding levels, Morenci needs additional students to stay out of deficit and to pay teachers what they were originally offered.

Ironically, low teacher morale and the possible turnover in staff will not make for a more attractive district.