The local teachers union in Grand Rapids appears exercised about an alleged statewide teacher shortage.

On Aug. 11, the Grand Rapids Education Association posted on Facebook that school reform has led to a teacher shortage. On Aug. 6, it posted that Oklahoma also has a teacher shortage, made worse by union-opposed education reforms. On Aug. 4, it posted a story by Bridge Magazine that claimed, “Fewer college students want to be teachers.”

On Aug. 6, the union posted a link to an item on anti-school choice activist Diane Ravitch’s blog that read, “In Michigan, Few Want to Become Teachers: Thanks Betsy DeVos, Rick Snyder, and Arne Duncan!”

ForTheRecord says: All that activism - there must be a real teacher crisis in Grand Rapids, right?

That's not the impression the district’s own website gives, though. It had the following notice posted as of Aug. 11 — barely three weeks before the first day of school:

“At this time we do not have any openings; however, positions open unexpectedly and fill quickly. Please establish a pre-employment file by completing the online application.”

A review of the actual job-opening data makes the claim of a teacher shortage appear even less credible.

An average of 72 individuals applied for every Grand Rapids teacher opening in the 2016-17 school year. There were 71 teaching positions open, according to records obtained from the district. Actual shortages were limited to narrow, specialized positions. Grand Rapids received no applicants for two special education job postings and also had no applicants for three foreign language teaching openings – French, Japanese and German.

The large number of applicants for regular teacher jobs is consistent with what many other districts report. Openings for regular classroom teachers generally get dozens and sometimes hundreds of qualified applicants.

For example, a non-specific high school teacher position that came open in Grand Rapids last year drew 493 applications. There were 532 who applied for a middle school teaching slot, and a regular elementary school teacher job was sought by 740 individuals.

Teacher shortage?

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The Mackinac Center for Public Policy is a free market, non-partisan educational institute workings towards a freer and fairer government. Our main focuses are in the following policy areas: Fiscal, Education, Energy and Environment, Labor, and Criminal Justice. Learn more at www.mackinac.org/issues

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