News Story

Teachers wanted: Alpena schools recruit parents, community members to lead classrooms

If school system can't fill 19 jobs, return to remote learning is possible

With 19 openings for teachers, and classes in session next month, Alpena Public Schools is the latest district in Michigan to offer would-be teachers an alternative way to work in the classroom. It is recruiting parents and community members to fill jobs, offering a $5,000 signing bonus to successful applicants who can fill a special education job.

The Alpena News explains that someone who has a bachelor’s degree and completes a training program while working as a teacher can obtain an interim teaching certificate.

The paper says, “If all else fails, Alpena students could have to learn from home if schools can’t fully staff classrooms.”

In the 2021-22 academic year, Alpena Public Schools served about 3,600 students, according to

Hiring is a widespread problem in Michigan, in both the public and private sector.

Schools are hiring, law enforcement organizations are hiring, factories are hiring, restaurants are hiring. Filling any one job is not easy; filling 19 teaching jobs at once, six of them requiring special education training, is a great challenge. Some northern Michigan schools are struggling to find even substitute teachers.

State Superintendent Michael Rice told the State Board of Education in November that a teacher shortage is “the most urgent challenge facing Michigan public schools and many schools across the nation.”

Claims of a teacher shortage in Michigan date back more than a century.

Superintendent Rice said an additional investment of $300 million to $500 million over five years would be the first step to filling the traditional recruiting pipeline.

Ultimately, the state looks to increase the number of certified teachers. This would require reversing nationwide trends. In Rice's presentation to the state board, he showed that about half as many people were enrolled in teacher prep programs in 2019-20, about 12,000, as in 2013-14, which was about 23,200. The number of "completers" is also half: about 2,260 in 2019-20 compared to 4,720 in 2013-1

In the meantime, as PBS Newshour reported, Michigan is using more immediate means to attract capable-but-not-certified teachers to the classroom. These efforts include offering “waivers to help former educators become recertified, reaching out to certified educators not currently teaching, and [running] alternative teacher certification programs to support aspiring teachers, including paraprofessionals and support staff.”

Schools trying to recruit parents and community members do have one unfair advantage over other employers: Their job-seekers are self-interested. The reason to take these jobs over others is the chance to work with or near their children, educate the children of the community, and make a middle-class salary while doing it.

In October 2021, the Michigan Department of Education reached out to 35,000 people with active teaching certificates who, it said, “are currently not teaching in a public school.”

The department did not respond to a request for data on interim teaching certificates.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.