Shrinking number of teachers signals end of a dream career



LANSING — Many children aspiring to be teachers when they grow up could end up having a change of heart.

In the face of increased pressures due to standardized testing, new college entry tests, and a lack of societal respect for the profession, fewer students are pursuing teaching careers, education advocates say.

“Nationally and in Michigan, there are fewer students going into education,” said Corey Drake, director of teacher preparation at Michigan State University.

Enrollment in university education programs fell 10 percent nationally from 2004 to 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The number of initial certificates issued by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has also been declining annually, according to Leah Breen, interim director of the department’s Office of Professional Preparation Services.

Drake said some smaller Michigan universities have seen enrollment in teaching programs dropping as much as 30 to 50 percent.

Standardized tests and national Common Core standards have garnered a much larger focus in the state in past years. Michigan Education Association President Steve Cook said these testing goals have altered how teaching is conducted and lowered the amount of input teachers have.

“Not one of them got involved because they thought they were going to be rich,” Cook said. “They want to teach. And they get there and find out, I’m not doing that much teaching, I’m a professional test proctor.”


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