News Story

540 Apply For One Teaching Opening, Zero For Six Others

Union contract provisions narrow candidates for some of 184 open positions

Ann Arbor Public Schools received 540 applicants in 2019 for a single job as a general education teacher in an elementary school.

At the other extreme, the district did not attract a single application this year for six teacher openings out of the 184 it posted. The six were: fifth grade elementary, high school math, high school special education (two postings), middle school social studies and a middle school social worker.

The Ann Arbor school district’s experience is not unusual. When school districts across Michigan post teaching vacancies, they get a high number of applicants for the vast majority of regular classroom teacher jobs. But they struggle to get even a small number of candidates for a handful of more challenging positions.

“Top qualified teachers are always in demand, but overall the Ann Arbor Public Schools has not found a shortage of teacher applicants at this time,” said Andrew Cluley, a spokesman for the school district. “However, in some key and critical areas the pool of qualified candidates is very small as evidenced by postings that had no applications. Additionally there are challenges in finding teachers that match the diversity of our student population.”

The teachers union contract states: “The parties also agree that it shall be their mutual goal to assign at least two African-American classroom teachers to each building.”

As with every other conventional and unionized school district in Michigan, teachers in Ann Arbor work under a single union pay scale that bases salaries exclusively on seniority and on having additional academic credentials. Such provisions restrict school districts’ ability to attract candidates for hard-to-staff positions by paying them more.

Despite complaints from union administrators and some teachers quoted in the media about how unpopular teaching has become, the profession gives the appearance of still being popular, given the number of applicants for open classroom teacher jobs.

In 2019, Ann Arbor had 5,022 applications for 184 teacher job postings, an average of 27.29 per position. In 2018, the district had 197 job postings and 4,725 applicants, or 23.94 per position.

The school district has experienced growing enrollment over the past 11 years, which has meant a growing payroll and teacher staff. There were 1,159 full-time teachers in 2007-08, or one teacher for every 14.16 students. By 2018-19, the district had 1,378 full-time teachers, or one teacher for every 13.08 students.

The average teacher salary in the Ann Arbor district was $71,546 in 2017-18, the most recent year data is available from the state of Michigan.

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Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.