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State Superintendent Flanagan Says There Are Ways to Address Teacher Shortage

September 29, 2014

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. 

Those who wish to change careers and teach full time can apply to a state-approved alternate route program in order to gain certification.  Alternate route programs are approved through Davenport University; Schoolcraft College; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; and University of Michigan-Flint. 

People who hold Bachelor’s degrees who wish to work part-time, or for a short duration, can take advantage of a variety of permit options.  These permits are issued by the MDE to a local school district after the district has verified the teaching position is unable to be filled otherwise.

These other teacher permit options include: 

EXPERT-IN-RESIDENCE:  This permit can be utilized for a maximum of two hours a day and is valid for the entire school year once issued.  Individuals must demonstrate expertise in the field being taught. 

FULL-YEAR PERMIT: Appropriate for core subject areas; individual must have either a degree in the subject area or demonstrate content knowledge through testing.

EMERGENCY PERMIT: Appropriate for non-core subject areas and non-Special Education assignments; individual must have a degree in the subject area or currently be enrolled in an approved teacher preparation program leading to certification.

1233b PERMIT: Appropriate for grades 9-12 in the subject areas of computer science; foreign language; mathematics; biology; chemistry; engineering; physics; and robotics.  The individual must have a degree in the field of specialization in which he or she will teach, plus recent and relevant work experience in the content area (exception made for foreign languages). 

Details about teacher certification and permits can be found here:,4615,7-140-5683_14795---,00.html

MDE also is developing a Michigan Teacher Corps program, a new initiative to select, train, and provide highly-skilled teachers and teacher leaders for Michigan’s lowest-performing schools.