Is Detroit ‘the best city in America for teachers’? City leaders are giving recruits a few more reasons to say ‘yes’

Is Detroit ‘the best city in America for teachers’? City leaders are giving recruits a few more reasons to say ‘yes’
September 4, 2018 Chalkbeat Detroit

Hiring teachers in Detroit has long been fiercely competitive, with schools sweetening their offers with unusual financial perks in an effort to recruit from a shrinking pool of certified teachers.

Now a citywide initiative funded by Detroit philanthropies and businesses is bringing education leaders together around the idea that a bigger pool of teachers will lessen the pressure on every school in the city. Teach 313, announced Thursday morning by a who’s who of Detroit leaders, will mount a nationwide recruitment campaign to find new teachers while offering discounted cars and home loans to educators who already teach in the city.

The initiative, named after Detroit’s area code, is intended to

“make sure that every child in the city of Detroit has a qualified leader sitting in front of them,”

Tonya Allen, president of the Skillman Foundation, one of the project’s funders, said. She added: “We are committed to making Detroit the best city in America for teachers.”

Teacher hiring has become a hot button issue in Detroit, where charter schools claim a larger share of students in Detroit than in almost any other American city. The resulting competition — combined with an overall shortage of certified educators — can leave schools uncertain of how many teachers will show up when summer’s done, but school leaders haven’t previously put their heads together about the issue.

It is not the first time a city’s mayor, business leaders, foundations, and school leaders have united in the fight against teacher shortages. Indianapolis, Las Vegas, and Memphis have all launched similar efforts in recent years.

But Teach 313 stands out, its leaders say, in part because of its focus on retaining the teachers who are already on the job. Detroit loses more than 14 percent of its teachers every year to schools outside the city, according to figures released by the initiative.

Some of the best practices for fighting teacher shortages have already taken hold in Detroit’s largest district, which recently increased teacher pay and is creating a program in which veteran teachers mentor newer hires.

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