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Michigan Teachers Should Make $100K, Superintendent Mike Flanagan Says

The head of the state's Department of Education asserts that higher wages would encourage more people to become teachers.

The key to getting more qualified math and science teachers into Michigan schools is simple, according to state Superintendent Mike Flanagan: Pay them more.

Flanagan, who heads up the Michigan Department of Education, said Monday at an assembly of scientists at Michigan State University that Michigan schools need more math and science teachers. The problem, he said, is that most scientists and mathematicians don't consider teaching in public schools to be a viable career option.

“We can do all we want with content standards, but the elephant in the room is that it won’t do much good if we don’t have enough math and science teachers in our schools,” Flanagan said while discussing science standards in K-12 schools, according to a release from the state.

“When you ratchet-up teacher salaries to $100,000-plus, market forces will direct more mid-career changers and you’ll attract more math and science college students into our educator prep programs,” he added. “We need to be moving all teachers to that salary level to continue getting the best and brightest people educating our students.

“It’s all about talent.”

Average teacher salaries, according to statistics released annually by the MDE, vary by tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the school district. No district's average salary in 2010-11 hit $100,000.

Lake Orion Community Schools teachers averaged $65,867 that year, ranking 88th in the state; Rochester Community Schools teachers averaged $69,584 the same year and ranked 51st statewide.

[Do you think Michigan teachers should have higher salaries? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.]

Correction: A previous version of this story stated Birmingham Area Schools teachers are the highest paid in Michigan. However, due to a reporting error to the Michigan Department of Education, that is not correct. Teachers in the district actually averaged $75,323.07 during 2010-11.

Christine January 29, 2013 at 12:45 PM
Teachers should absolutely make much more money. We need to put our wallets where our mouths are and stand behind our popular claim about the "importance of education." Michigan was always proud of its schools, but the direction they are headed is not something to be proud of. Our governor and media crucify our teachers while they think nothing of shelling out $100 to see a Red Wings game, or $20 to go to a movie. Actors and sports figures get a huge return on our hard-earned dollar. Where are our priorities? Besides parenting, teaching is universally the most important job out there. We pay doctors the big buck because they can save your life. Teachers can save your mind.
Connie Baker January 29, 2013 at 02:53 PM
no -- teachers make a good living at an average of $65,000 plus the best benefit package! they work 10 months a year -- get the holiday breaks -- whats wrong with you people! salaries are out of control!
mac January 29, 2013 at 03:10 PM
Agreed we need to up Math and Science teachers salaries. That would be hard to do with the current environment; since it would depend on what the teacher is teaching to determine the salary. They would need to determine the average a person with a Math or Science degree would make compared to and English degree to a Physical Education degree to an Early Childhood degree. Outside of teaching some of those degrees would not earn half as much. All are important, it would be hard to justify $100,000.00 salary for some of them.
Christine January 29, 2013 at 03:37 PM
I have been in school since I was three, and I'm still going. Length and cost of getting my degrees? Really? Continuing Ed is just that: always continuing. I'm truly not in it for the money; I LOVE teaching. But, a paycheck that was commensurate with my education and effort would be nice. The argument that teachers get so much time off is tiring. No decent teacher I know works 10 months a year, nor takes off the breaks when school is closed. I spent my July and first half of August in classes for a second Masters as well as being trained in a new writing program our district is implementing, along with revamping the curricula to meet the new Common Core. Last year, I worked with my after school committee members all summer, along with writing new plans for several units and implementing flipped learning. The year before, much of the same, etc., etc. My breaks are spent grading, reading, writing new plans, revising, etc. My days, and any teacher worth their salt, begins at 6 and ends long after my own children are in bed. Hourly, it's under minimum wage. Of course, I know teachers are supported by tax dollars, and 100 K is not feasible. However, our recent new structure in which first-year teachers don't even make 30K, is a slap in the face to all people of Michigan. It's a slippery slope: less top-notch talent to the industry, means lower professorial clout, means lowering MTTC scores, means lower education standards. Ask Florida, that's what happened there.
John Harold January 29, 2013 at 04:51 PM
State Superintendent Flanagan's comments show how much Academia is out of touch with the real world. When teachers work full time 50 weeks a year and receive health and pension benefits comparable to the real world, they would merit such consideration.
Christine January 29, 2013 at 06:28 PM
John- my belief is that's one of the reasons teachers' pay is so far behind other graduate-degreed white collar workers, because of the erroneous popular perception that teachers work less hours than lawyers, engineers, accountants, etc. In reality, our working hours are often much more than most professions out there. (I believe other reasons include teaching's history as a "woman's field" and the decision to unionize). In response to your claim about our health and pension benefits, I agree that for many years, the benefits afforded to educators were quite substantial. Many educators looked at this as compensation for the aforementioned lacking paycheck. If you've been following the restructuring and news in the last few years, you know that teachers' benefits are now right in the middle of most white-collared professional workers in the state of Michigan. My husband, an auto parts manager, now has better benefits than teachers. We take his, and unfortunately, are not compensated for not taking mine. In response to JNC-just to clarify: teachers don't "have the option" of increasing their degrees, continuing education is mandated by the terms of our certification and by the state, as well as the federal government. Yes, teachers average 65K in Michigan (but this number will continue to go down as the new pay structure is implemented, teachers retire, and new teachers are hired). It still boils down to less than minimum wage hourly for many excellent teachers.
John January 29, 2013 at 11:48 PM
Do not enter into the teaching profession. There is a lack of respect at every level. The benefits are not good anymore and job security is gone. Pensions for all new teachers are a thing of the past. There are much better careers choices considering the cost of a college education.
John January 29, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Please check your facts on benefits. They are not very good anymore. Best benefit package? You are wrong.
Crystal February 08, 2013 at 04:05 PM
Average takes the highest and lowest salaries. Teachers don't even reach 65k until they have been working for decades. Most start off under 30k, and now we pay for healthcare on top of union costs. Take home is pretty close to half that for me now. That's barely enough to live of of.
Crystal February 08, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Amen.

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