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  • Melinda Murphy

Detroit teachers get 33% raise

Detroit has long battled teacher position vacancies as it struggled to recruit educators and often lost young teachers to suburban districts that pay more. The higher wage is an effort to compete for teaching talent.

Detroit Public Schools Community District superintendent Nikolai Vitti is blunt about the teachers he wants to hire.

"What we're trying to do is recruit teachers with experience from mainly metro Detroit districts and charter schools," said he said. "I think that's where the opportunity is highest to recruit."

Dan Quisenberry, president of the Michigan Association of Public School Academies, which represents charter schools, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Vitti said that a teacher with one to five years of experience in a charter school or some suburban districts likely makes less than $51,000. Now, they may consider teaching in Detroit schools. The new salary will apply to all new hires, including those fresh out of college, but the focus is on getting teachers with experience, Vitti said.

"There's a big difference between a first-year teacher and a third-year teacher or a third-year teacher versus a fifth-year teacher," Vitti said. "So this is about recruiting those teachers that have taught, so they have gone through their initial growing pains to get to be experienced teachers. We believe we'll be able to incentivize  them to come."

Vitti said many Detroit charter school teachers taught previously in his district. Some left amid budget cuts sustained under emergency managers. Those teacher already know how to teach in an urban environment where many students live in poverty, so they are ideal candidates, Vitti said.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers, which represents Detroit teachers, wouldn't comment on the new salary, other than to release a statement it sent to members.

"We look forward to continuing a larger discussion with the district that results in increased salaries for all those we represent," Union President Terrence Martin said in the statement. "Experienced educators, you have paved the way to increased student achievement and enrollment. We will always fight for what is fair and equitable for all unit members."

Vitti said new teachers will not leapfrog current teachers in salary terms. Any current teachers making less than $51,000 will be brought up to that level, he said.

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