Based on previous interviews I have conducted with various individuals inside the professions of teaching, nursing, social work and policing; a picture of various labor shortages and strains upon the system comes into clear focus. To place those shortages into perspective, I performed academic literature reviews to assemble relevant data in order to frame this discussion. According to the US Census Bureau's July 1, 2021 population estimate, approximately 10,050,811 people live in Michigan. MI School Data reports that 1,443,456 students, including 194,514 with disabilities are enrolled in school for the 2021-2022 school year.
To contrast this population information, MI School Data also lists a workforce of 100,635 teachers, along with 13,971 listed as substitutes and aides for the same year. When you consider that the average reported by Autism Alliance of Michigan and the CDC is 1 in 68 children in the US are reported to have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), it's easy to surmise that the total potential population of ASD children in Michigan (both diagnosed and undiagnosed) is close to 21,227. This likely under-representative figure reveals a larger population of special needs students than employed and qualified aides. It's important to note that ASD students require extra educational support to succeed and benefit from one on one aide support.
In the year 2018, the Citizens Research Council of Michigan reported that Michigan had 137,541 licensed nurses and the MDHHS reported that the state's Children’s Services Agency employed 3,816 staff including 3,336 field staff and 480 central office staff. A year later, an online publication called Social Work Guide reported that 24,000 social workers employed in the state in 2019. Finally, the Mackinac Center for Public Policy reported in 2019 that there are 588 law enforcement agencies, employing approximately 17,000 officers in the state of Michigan in 2019.
Mark Bignell is an alumni of Montcalm Community College and Grand Valley State University. He is a former Democratic Nominee for Michigan State Senate and current candidate.