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.
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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.