June 29, 2023

Michigan Legislators Allocate $66.4 Million in Funding for Addressing Statewide Teacher Shortage

Michigan, June 29, 2023 — The Michigan State Legislature has taken a significant stride in tackling the teacher shortage impacting schools throughout the state by approving $66.4 million in funding for the Talent Together initiative as part of Michigan’s FY24 School Aid Budget. An innovative partnership between a consortium of 48 Intermediate School Districts spanning 63 counties – from the Upper Peninsula to Southeast Michigan – Talent Together serves more than 1.1 million students by seeking to widen pathways for aspiring teachers of all education levels.

This investment demonstrates Michigan's commitment to fostering the next generation of educators and ensuring a quality education for all students. Since its launch in December 2023, the Talent Together initiative has already developed partnerships with nine universities in the state and attracted a remarkable 1,500 applicants, reflecting the program’s potential to bridge the teacher gap and transform Michigan's education landscape.

“The approved funding for the Talent Together initiative signifies a shared recognition among Michigan legislators of the critical need to address the shortage of qualified teachers across the state,” said Dr. Daveda Colbert, superintendent of Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency. “This commitment to investing in education and supporting aspiring educators echoes Michigan's dedication to providing the best possible learning experiences for its students.”

The Talent Together initiative aims to create a robust ecosystem that attracts and supports aspiring educators, providing them with the necessary resources, mentorship, and professional development opportunities. By addressing the barriers that discourage individuals from pursuing a career in education, the initiative seeks to cultivate a diverse and talented pool of teachers who are passionate about shaping the future of Michigan's students.

Focused on teacher quality, this innovative model will make use of apprenticeships, a way to develop educators that is newly recognized by the United States Department of Labor. Program fellows who are seeking certification will be required to meet federal apprenticeship guidelines, which means at least one year of “practice” in classrooms and fully paid at a competitive wage.
“The remarkable response to the Talent Together initiative, with over 1,500 applicants in such a short time, reflects the enthusiasm and interest in shaping Michigan's educational landscape for the better,” said Dr. Greg Nyen, superintendent of Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Services Agency in the Upper Peninsula. “This groundswell of support, combined with the funding from the Michigan State Legislature, signifies a united effort to address the teacher shortage and invest in Michigan's future.”

Michigan’s teacher pipeline has been challenged in recent years, with state data showing that from 2008-2016, enrollment in teacher preparation programs fell by more than 66%, and during that period Michigan led the nation in attrition from those programs. To address the educator shortfall, the consortium is working with its nine university partners to meet the following requirements:

  • Improve educator diversity across the state
  • Set high standards for teacher preparation
  • Eliminate financial barriers to becoming a teacher
  • Provide cost-effective bachelor’s degrees and certification opportunities
  • Serve rural, urban and suburban schools

“Michigan's commitment to the Talent Together initiative sets an inspiring precedent for other states facing similar challenges,” said Jack Elsey, Founder of the Michigan Educator Workforce Initiative, a non-profit supporting Talent Together. “By proactively tackling the teacher shortage crisis, Michigan is poised to transform its education system and ensure that every student has access to high-quality educators. Critical throughout the development of this initiative has been the leadership and support of Representative Regina Weiss. Her dedication and vision have been crucial in driving positive change and addressing the teacher shortage issue head-on."

Talent Together plans to welcome its first cohort of teacher candidates starting this Fall. For more information, visit Talent Together.