News Story

Number Of Michigan Teachers Rises Even As Enrollment Declines

Yet media often tells a teacher shortage story

Media outlets all across the state are reporting about teacher shortages, and WXYZ is the latest.

The WXYZ May 20 headline stated, “‘Perfect storm’ of events causing teacher shortage crisis in Michigan.”

The article quoted Dwight Pierson, a math teacher at St. Johns Public Schools, who said he was doing “double the work I used to do.”

Many of the articles on the subject of teachers don’t cite data on the number of them working in this state.

In Clinton County, where St. Johns is located, the number of teachers has increased from 597 in 2016-17 to 784 in 2020-21, a 31% increase. The number of students in Clinton County has increased from 10,023 to 10,649, or 6% during that same five-year period.

Many school districts have more teachers than four years ago, despite having fewer students.

In St. Johns, student enrollment has dropped from 2,943 in 2016-17 to 2,640 in 2020-21, a 10% reduction. The number of teachers at St. Johns Public Schools has dropped from 161 to 156 over the time, a 3% reduction.

Statewide, the number of teachers has increased from 98,481 in 2016-17 to 110,788 in 2020-21, a 12% increase. That increase in the number of teachers statewide has come despite a 6% drop in student enrollment in public schools.

There are schools that appear to have trouble filling teaching positions. Jackson Public Schools, for example, is offering a $10,000 bonus to new teachers as well as forgiveness of college loans. The district has had a 11% drop in enrollment from 2016-17 to 2020-21 and a 18% drop in the number of teachers.

But that story doesn’t play out in many of the largest school districts in the state.

At Ann Arbor Public Schools, for example, the number of teachers over the past four years has increased 42% from 1,184 to 1,677 while student enrollment over that same time period has dropped 4%.

At the state’s largest public school district, Detroit Public Schools Community District had hired 24% more teachers in 2020-21 as compared to 2016-17. The district’s teachers headcount has increased from 3,032 to 3,766. The Detroit school district has seen a 7% increase in enrollment over that same time period.

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.