A grassroots approach to addressing Detroit’s teacher shortage

For the past several years, Karen Thomas-Brown, an associate professor in UM-Dearborn’s College of Education, Health, & Human Services, has been developing a new tool to help address Detroit’s chronic teacher shortage problem.

In sort of the inverse of the Teach For America model—where college graduates earn teacher certifications in exchange for work in under-resourced districts—Thomas-Brown and her colleagues are attempting to grow teachers from inside the metro Detroit schools themselves.

To do this, they sought out people already working within the schools, like paraprofessionals and long-term substitute teachers, who were interested in earning their teacher certifications. The underlying idea, Thomas-Brown said, is to provide educators who have a current stake in their schools with a suite of supports that helps them build capacity as teachers.

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