Michigan public school teachers are the highest paid in the country when compared to state wealth, according to the Livingston Daily Press & Argus.
The information comes from an analysis by Education Policy Director Mike Van Beek using data from the National Education Association.
"Considering this state's economic performance over the last decade, it's rather surprising that average teacher salaries in Michigan continue to lead the nation," Van Beek told the Livingston Daily. "With employee compensation consuming nearly 80 percent of most school districts' operating budgets, education policymakers will have to consider whether this continued disparity is justifiable."
Health insurance is a major factor in that personnel cost, Van Beek has found, especially considering that teachers in more than 300 plans statewide contribute nothing toward the cost of their own premiums. Van Beek has also exposed the myth that the MEA has been repeating about savings from contract concessions.
UPDATE: The Detroit News on June 3, 2010, cited Van Beek's research in an editorial titled "Taxpayers can't sustain generous benefits for education employees."