Teacher Says Young People Don’t Want Teacher Jobs; Data Say They Do

Nearly 30 applicants per opening last year in his district

For several years, Michigan teachers unions and some public school employees have promoted a narrative that young people are not interested in working as public school teachers due to education reforms passed by the GOP-controlled Michigan Legislature since 2011.

The latest iteration came after the Legislature adopted a school pension reform that steers new employees toward a 401(k)-type retirement savings plan with substantial employer contributions. The reform leaves open the alternative of enrolling for lifetime pension benefits with substantial employee cost sharing.

In a June 15 story in The Detroit News, one schoolteacher said today’s younger adults don’t want to be teachers and pointed to his district’s lack of applicants for teacher postings as evidence.

“We have a hard enough time getting subs and teachers as it is in our district,” said John Anderson, 58, a 31-year government and world history teacher at Jackson County’s Western High School.

Anderson continued: “When I first started back in 1990, we would get 400 or 500 or 600 people for every job opening. Now we’re lucky if we can get three or four. Our youth just don’t want to go into teaching because there’s no financial stability.”

ForTheRecord says: Information obtained in response to an open records request do not suggest that the Western School District has any problem attracting applicants for open teacher positions.

The district posted seven teacher openings in 2016-17 and received a total of 208 applicants or 29.7 per position. The lowest number was three applicants for a high school science/biology teacher. The second-lowest number was nine applicants for a middle school position teaching English and social studies. An elementary school teaching position drew 86 applicants, the largest response to any job posting for a teaching job.