How to cut teacher unemployment in Michigan

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Over the past two years, Michigan's 34 teacher preparation programs have recommended 11,630 teacher candidates for licensure. Fewer than 30 percent of them have landed teaching jobs in the state.

Dr. Jann Joseph, the dean of Eastern Michigan University's school of education, thinks the answer to this oversupply problem is for new teachers to look elsewhere: "Our students can find jobs if they are willing to move out of state."

Samantha Stanley, a recent grad from Eastern Michigan's teacher prep program with family in the state, isn't sure that makes sense: "I know it's going to be very difficult."

For their part, Michigan policymakers are thinking of extending a moratorium on new teacher preparation programs until 2015. By doing so, they think they can maintain a modicum of quality control. As the Secretary of Michigan's Board of Education noted, "If we become so overpopulated with institutions, it is difficult with this staff to do the job they're supposed to do with oversight."

The moratorium is an understandable response to the situation Michigan finds itself in, but it won't be enough. Michigan should also raise admission standards for entry into teacher preparation programs, an idea state superintendent Michael Flanagan is already on the record supporting. By doing so, Michigan would improve candidate quality and reduce the number of unemployed graduates. And, as we highlighted in Student Teaching in the United States, reducing production helps ensure that all teacher candidates receive a high-quality student teaching experience.

With action, there's the chance for the state, recent graduates, and students to all win.

-Graham Drake