Detroit Public Schools Community District makes headway in filling teacher vacancies

District has high educator turnover rate

DETROIT – Winter break for schools is just around the corner, and some students in the Detroit Public Schools Community District are still without teachers for some of their classes.

As of Thursday, there are 80 teacher vacancies throughout the district.

It's an old problem with new concerns for the DPSCD. 

"That really disturbs me," said concerned grandparent Carolyn McKissic. "The children are suffering if you don't have qualified people in these classrooms."

McKissic is a former Detroit school principal. Her daughter goes to Cass Technical High School, where there are three openings.

"In order for us to really grow, we have got to make our schools top priority," McKissic said. "Top priority, and they cannot be top priority without teachers in the classroom."

Vernon Adams, another concerned grandparent, agrees.

"The superintendent should have jumped on that when he found out it was going to happen," Adams said. "Teachers don't make a lot of money, so there's other things you gotta do to make teaching attractive."

District leaders said they are trying to make teaching more attractive, and it's working, to a certain extent. 

The district is paying teachers more money, creating partnerships with universities and expanding recruitment to historically black colleges and universities across the country -- all steps toward improving the problem.

"It's important," McKissic said. "They've got to get these positions filled."

DPSCD is hoping the open positions get filled before the school year is out.

A statement from the district can be read below:

Currently, we have one vacancy at Renaissance and this is the math class the parent reached out about. Math teachers are difficult to find nationally, and that challenge is even greater in Detroit. The class has a long-term substitute who has a college degree and is working toward completing their certification. The district continues to try to recruit teachers for this teacher vacancy. Cass Tech has three vacancies and the three are for elective classes.  We have reduced teacher vacancies over the past year indicated by there being 270 vacancies two years at the opening of school, 160 last year, and 80 this year. To improve teacher recruitment we have increased salaries, maintained the cost of benefits, expanded recruitment to HBCUs nationally, and created new partnerships with universities to place student teachers as interns in our schools. Moving forward, we look to continue increasing salaries and build off of our initiative with the University of Michigan at Marygrove to develop a stronger pipeline of teachers for the district.

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