Mike Addonizio, professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies in the College of Education, quoted in Bridge, "A fight for teachers weakens Detroit schools"Return to news listing
Bridge Magazine, 11/30
A fight for teachers weakens Detroit schools.
By Erin Einhorn
The scramble for teachers is hardly unusual in a city where generous school choice laws, a decentralized school system and a shrinking pool of available teachers have so destabilized the teacher labor force that many school leaders say they’re constantly looking for new educators to hire. And every time a teacher takes an offer and leaves, that creates a vacancy likely to be filled by a teacher from another school. That other school then has a vacancy to fill. Experts say the teacher churn is driven in part by the fierce competition between schools in Detroit that has intensified as charter schools have expanded and as more suburban schools actively recruit city kids. “It’s another consequence of this hyper-competition that has been created by our charter school programs and laws here in Michigan and it’s really working to the detriment of everybody involved,” said Mike Addonizio, a professor of education policy at Wayne State University. “The schools are competing for students,” he said. “The students will dictate the revenues and that dictates their budget and therefore their ability to hire staff … And if a school is plagued with high teacher turnover, that makes it difficult for students. Outcomes won’t be good and as that information becomes public, those schools don’t do well in school choice decisions and enrollment will drop.” The only way to fix the rest of the problem, Addonizio said, is to address the reasons that teachers leave in the first place. “The best thing that a school or a school district can do to combat the teacher turnover problem is to improve working conditions in the school,” Addonizio said. “For new teachers, their compensation might mean something, but more than anything, they want some mentoring, assistance from veteran teachers. They want some help.”