High Demand Drives Teacher Vacancies in Parts of U.S., But American Rescue Plan Offers HopeAmerican Rescue Plan is easing the burden on local school districts and augments local efforts to make up for teacher shortages resulting from poor working conditions and low salaries in some regions.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

It’s back-to-school in the U.S. But as the fall semester commences for 2022, some school districts – those in rural districts or in states with lower-than-average teacher salaries – have found themselves wanting for teachers, particularly in math and special education and starting semester with open positions. This has sent principles and school officials scrambling to fill vacancies and attract teaching talent.

This situation continues to be alarming for officials and parents alike.

But Kim Anderson, executive director of the National Education Association, told the New York Times, that all was not lost. “We are, in fact, making progress with respect to the educator shortage” she said, adding that the American Rescue Plan passed by Congress in March 2021 was helping to address discrepancies in pay and funding for districts worst affected.

Moreover, while some recent surveys have claimed teacher shortages in up to three-quarters of schools across the U.S., leaving many districts unable to fill positions, the picture is uneven, as not every district suffers from shortages.

In fact, experts suggest that the pandemic has worsened already existing inequities in teacher distribution and quality with rural schools and those serving more students of color and low-income families being the worst affected. In states like Arizona, with teacher’s salaries lower than the national average, some school districts have begun their semesters with many teaching positions unfilled as potential hires are lured away to neighboring states with higher teacher salaries and better working conditions.

But in Virginia, for example, where salaries are higher than the national average, the number of teaching positions has, in fact, expanded in comparison to last year, adding hundreds of new teachers and teaching assistants.

For the last two years, the American Rescue Plan has helped to offset these inequalities in teacher availability by providing relief for school districts that have struggled to pay teachers adequate salaries and thus retain talent.

In addition, some school districts have gotten creative in attempting to lure teachers to open positions offering 4-day work weeks. In Missouri, a state with one of the lowest salaries for teachers, 25 percent of school districts have adopted a four-day schedule hoping to lure teachers with the promise of greater free time and a condensed teaching schedule. These 4 day school weeks have become common in states like New Mexico, Colorado, Oregon, Idaho and South Dakota. Nevertheless, it remains unclear how beneficial this change is to students’ achievement.

For the time being then, it’s up to congress and the ingenuity of school administrators to help smooth the gaps in teacher distribution.

Gov. Whitmer’s Education Budget Investing In Classrooms Praised By Republican and Democratic LawmakersWhitmer’s $19.6 billion investment in education is being used to improve the quality of schools, enable critical building repairs, and ensure access to books and supplies critical for learning.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

This summer, experts noted that Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the largest investment in K-12 education in the state’s history – a record $19.6 billion in funding. Supported by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, analysis shows that the funding is being used to improve the quality of schools, enable critical building repairs, and ensure access to books and supplies critical for learning.

Similar education investments have already helped triple the number of literacy coaches, reduce overall class sizes, and close the school funding gap, which educators say will go a long way to boosting Michigan’s competitiveness with neighboring states and with other countries.

While Whitmer’s education investments have received support from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, conservative commentator Tudor Dixon has expressed support for repealing Michigan’s constitutional amendment guaranteeing funding for public schools. As MLive.com reported: “a provision of the state’s constitution prohibits spending public money from going to private schools in most instances, so her plan calls for repealing that provision.”

Gov. Whitmer Signs Education Budget Recruiting Teachers for MichiganExperts say the 2022-23 budget increases Michigan’s competitiveness in teacher training and retention through $530 million in support for aspiring teachers and over $20 billion in broader education funds –without raising taxes.

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has signed an education budget for 2022-23 that experts say will help recruit and train teachers, improve the quality of schools, fund critical building repairs, and make sure students have access to books and supplies they need in order to learn.

Advocates are already praising the budget. The Michigan Education Association (MEA) has described the budget as “visionary.” State Senator Dayna Polehanki, a former teacher, explained that “there is not much more important than rebuilding Michigan’s teacher pipeline.”

Experts say that those who wished to pursue a career in education in Michigan were often stymied by impossible choices between basic costs of living and continuing their education. Brittany Perreault and Maya Murray, outgoing and incoming AEM presidents, cited unpaid teaching internships and low pay as primary factors that discourage many prospective teachers from completing their degrees or push them to pursue opportunities in neighboring states.

Accordingly, the new budget provides funds and programs to help retain and support prospective teachers including $305 million for a Future Educators Fellowship with $10,000 grants for students who commit to being teachers in Michigan after graduation; $50 million for $9,600 stipends per semester to help students with expenses; and $175 million for districts to recruit, train and retain new teachers.

Beyond those provisions designed to support teacher training and retention, Gov. Whitmer’s 2022-23 budget represents a major investment in education, achieved without a tax-hike, providing $19.6 billion for PreK-12 schools, $530 million for community colleges, and $3.5 billion for universities.

Whitmer Funds Science, Engineering, Tech, and Math Education to Give Michigan Students Edge Over China Governor Whitmer announced state funding of over $200,000 dollars for STEM programs in schools, investing in the future of state infrastructure and helping Michigan youth gain a competitive edge over international contemporaries.

Whitmer Funds Science, Engineering, Tech, and Math Education to Give Michigan Students Edge Over China

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that 16 schools and districts in Michigan have been awarded over $200,000 to improve STEM programs for students, giving them a leg up in the race to compete with China.

The funding will “offer students access to real world STEM experiences,” said Gov. Whitmer. This boost for K-12 institutions, districts, and educational partnerships is part of the Governor’s education budget, which sets a wide-ranging set of educational goals for Michigan.

The funded programs include water stewardship education, data gathering, remotely operated vehicle training, and introductions to careers in “science, engineering, and natural resource management”—all projects necessary to make young Michiganders competitive on an international scale.

“Michigan has the potential to become a world leader in STEM education and careers,” said Whitmer.

Analysis: Biden’s American Rescue Plan Doubled School Reopenings Following the American Rescue Plan’s unprecedented $122 billion investment in education, the share of K-12 schools open full-time jumped from 46 percent to 95 percent in less than a year.

Analysis: Biden's American Rescue Plan Doubled School Reopenings

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

The Biden administration got kids back to school.

President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan was the driving force behind reopening public schools and safely resuming in-person learning, analysis shows. Between January 2021 and January 2022, the share of K-12 schools open full time jumped from 46 percent to 95 percent.

Early in the first year of the Biden administration, the American Rescue Plan invested an unprecedented $122 billion to help the public school system recover from the pandemic, including $3 billion to aid students with disabilities, who were among those most impacted by school closures. In addition to the funding, the Department of Education developed and distributed comprehensive guidance to encourage schools to use the money to focus on the most urgent needs, such as reversing learning loss, accelerating academic achievement, increasing mental health support, and addressing staffing shortages.

To ensure that school reopenings were safe and sustainable, the Biden administration committed another $10 billion to fund COVID testing programs for students and educators.

In a statement, Secretary of said: “Schools, teachers, students, and families were challenged in ways none of us ever imagined. But from that struggle, came resilience.” He added that the Biden administration’s school reopening plan was aimed at “making our education system better than ever before so that all students receive the excellent education they deserve.”

Experts: Whitmer’s Education Budget Prioritizes Classrooms, Books, School Quality Whitmer’s budget focuses on student success, providing greater access to personalized learning, textbooks, AP and Honors classes, and extracurriculars.

Gov. Whitmer’s Education Budget Prioritizes Classrooms, Books, School Quality

By Main Street Sentinel Staff

Michigan’s Governor Whitmer shared her education budget in February, which experts are praising for prioritizing students and improving the quality of the state’s public schools.

The budget focuses investments on better teacher training, more Honors and AP courses, books and building repairs, more personalized learning, and improved extracurriculars.

Student advocates are saying the funding will be used to teach children the things they need to learn to be successful.

“Governor Whitmer’s bold plan is the most transformational investment in public education we have seen in decades,” said MEA President Paula Herbart. “The governor’s budget proposal attacks Michigan’s acute educator shortage head-on, and her plan will make a real difference in recruiting, retaining and respecting educators to help every student succeed.”

State Superintendent Michael Rice has praised the plan: “This budget would help advance every single goal of the state’s Top 10 state strategic education plan and, in so doing, would improve the lives of our more than 1.4 million Michigan public school children.”

The governor’s office said the plan was a key part of Whitmer’s goal to invest in Michigan’s schools without increasing taxes.