Highly Paid Teachers Feel the Heat in Michigan

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Despite its relatively low cost of living, teachers in the Detroit area are some of the highest paid in the nation, according to a Detroit News study. Compensation data, mandated to be online by the state, shows just how well school districts are paying teachers, despite a looming $1.6 billion deficit for the next school year.

The information covers school districts in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Livingston counties and cover teachers in the K-12 grade levels. Over 300 teachers in the region made more than $100,000 per year- that is, a year that’s nine months long with most holidays off.

The beginning salary for teachers is about $40,000, but those with an advanced degree earn considerably more.  With a master’s degree and ten year’s experience, the average salary is about $82,000, about 50 percent higher than the area’s median household income.

The average Michigan teacher made $56,096 last year, ranking it 11th in the nation. However, the median household income last year in Michigan ranked it 36th in the nation, resulting from the state’s recession that long preceded the national slowdown.

A few districts have won concessions from the teachers’ unions, but even with cuts, deficits are persistent. In some districts, two-tier wage scales have been implemented with new hires taking double the years to reach salary limits. Some districts are freezing salaries and preventing scheduled raises if funding goes down.

Given the size of projected deficits, the scope of cuts in union and non-union employees pay is not enough to balance the districts’ budgets. Officials say that cuts in school programs are inevitable.

Rick Hess, the director of education policy studies at the Washington D.C. –based conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute said “I think Americans are going to be surprised by how high (teacher salaries) are and (legislators) are going to be surprised by the amount of support for reductions.”

Hess said that fears of a reduction in pay, will lower the quality of teachers in the system, is overblown. Even with a 5% reduction in salary and a requirement to pay a greater portion of health insurance costs, a teacher making $80,000 now will still make over $70,000. Compared to cuts in the manufacturing and other sectors, teachers are far better off in the current economy.

The Detroit News

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Comment (1)
  1. Mike Dubelko says:

    So what was that thing that says school teachers don’t make much money?

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