K–12 education is the nation’s largest employer, with more workers than the hospitality, retail, or manufacturing industries. The sector, however, has long been under strain, particularly in Michigan where experienced teachers are retiring, and enrollment in teacher preparation programs is down more than 70%. Even pre-pandemic, districts increasingly over-relied on substitute teachers with minimal training, and have lately been forced to staff classrooms with bus drivers and lunch aides. 

This broken pipeline hurts schools and students, and the lack of accessible on-ramps to the good jobs of education denies economic opportunity to vast swaths of citizens: though more than 30% of Michigan public school students are children of color, the educator cohort is 94% white.

To address this long-standing weakness in education employment, the GV NextEd Workforce Project (“NEWP”) is bringing together Michigan colleges, school districts, unions, policy-makers, and community-based organizations to design and deliver an innovative set of rapid, accessible work-and-learn credentials in areas of pressing educational need. These new educators would work alongside certified teachers and paraprofessionals and in community–based organizations to support students in a “care team” approach that will make more efficient use of experienced teachers’ time and skills.

NEWP credentials are designed from the ground up in close collaboration with communities and stakeholders to generate unique economic and career value for their holders, with two-thirds of credits earned through paid tutoring or counseling work with K12 students, overseen by college faculty. Being paid to earn college credits—rather than paying for them—removes a significant barrier to educational advancement.

This training (in reading, writing, math, distance pedagogy, academic counseling, and other areas) would be available to anyone with a high school diploma and would be customized to the applicants’ level of prior degree attainment. The remaining one–third of credits would be earned through traditional coursework at either the undergraduate or graduate level, again depending upon the background of the student. NEWP credits would be fully transferable and stackable towards traditional Associate, Bachelor's, or Master's degrees, should students wish to pursue them.

In schools, holders of these certificates would serve in high-quality, union–eligible positions, typically under the supervision of certified teachers within a “care team” model similar to those found in health care. Certified teachers would be eligible to earn these specialized credentials at the Master's level, which would qualify for professional development credit and district salary step schedules. Many certificate holders may choose instead to work in non-school settings for childcare providers, community-based organizations, tutoring services, and after-school and summer school programs. Our goal is to create a credential with high optionality, one that has economic and career value for a broad range of people across a wide range of settings and employment types.

The NEWP project addresses the immediate need to augment and support the dwindling numbers of certified teachers in classrooms. At the same time, it creates a more accessible long-term professional pathway for those not already in the teaching profession or who may not have attended—let alone completed—college. By emphasizing participation from underserved communities, including people working in community–based, home-based, and informal childcare settings, it offers the possibility of diversifying the teaching profession, a key component in furthering employment and economic justice as well as better educational outcomes for Michigan K12 students.

Like all NextEd Co–Lab projects, the GV NEWP is a collaborative effort grounded in the principles of liberatory design. Our partners in the system development and design phases include:

  • ​​AmplifyGR
  • Battle Creek Public Schools
  • Detroit Children's Fund
  • Detroit PAL
  • Grand Rapids Community College
  • Hamilton Community Schools
  • Lansing Public Schools
  • Michigan Community College Association
  • Michigan Department of Education
  • Michigan Education Association
  • Michigan Federation of Teachers
  • National Heritage Academies
  • Skillman Foundation
  • Westshore Community College
  • Westshore Education Service District


For more information about the NEWP, please contact [email protected].

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