If you’ve been watching the ever-increasing demonization of teachers in Michigan over the past decade, you probably have asked yourself at one time or another, “Why the hell would ANYONE want to be a teacher in Michigan?” It’s a fair question. Republicans in our state legislature have cut their benefits, based their advancement on student progress when much of what contributes to progress is out of their control, and portrayed them as greedy leeches on the jugular vein of society for having the audacity to want to live (and then retire) in dignity. They’ve cut school funding and forced public schools to compete on an uneven playing field with better funded for-profit charter schools. Nearly every month we hear of some new indignity being forced upon our teachers.
Well, now those chickens have come home to roost in one of the hardest-hit districts in the state – Detroit Public Schools:
That’s how long Detroit school district officials have to complete a massive task: Filling what appears to be an increasing number of vacant teacher positions.
That rush to fill the vacancies means the district will be holding a job fair Aug. 17, and possibly another before the school year begins Sept. 5.
Two weeks ago the district logged 425 teacher vacancies, well above the 263 that existed in late April.
But that number doesn’t include about 100 new teachers who were hired in the last two months. It also doesn’t include about 50 certified teachers who are being moved from administrative positions — where they provided support and training to other teachers — back to the classroom.
That still leaves the district with well over 200 vacancies right now, 30 days before the new school year opens.
Detroit teachers over the years have taken pay cuts to keep the district afloat all while working in some of the most heartbreakingly deplorable working conditions of any school district in the country. Not only that, they’ve been understaffed for quite awhile already, forcing teachers to work in massively overcrowded rooms. It’s no surprise that Ivy Bailey, president of the Detroit Federation of Teachers, told the Detroit Free Press, “Our teachers cannot take another year of what they took last year with oversized classes. People are really getting burned out.”
The only surprise is that it has taken this long for teachers to get the hint and leave the profession or at least the state.
Statewide there has been a 25% decrease in the number of teaching certificates granted in our state. Maybe someday Michigan legislators will figure out that you can’t continually screw over and demonize teachers and expect them to come back for more. They love students and they love teaching but you can only get kicked in the face so many times before you say, “Enough is enough.”
I wish the Detroit Public schools well. Unfortunately, until Republicans end their anti-teacher crusade, there’s little likelihood that things will change.