In a lengthy article that covers most of the issues and angles pertaining to public school teacher compensation, the Michigan Education Association continued its perpetual campaign to obfuscate the facts about average teacher pay.

In response to the fact that the average Michigan teacher salary is 15 percent higher than the national average, the MEA said school employees have agreed to $1 billion in concessions over the last three years (a claim they've been repeating for almost a full year). This claim remains unproven, and in any event is irrelevant to a comparison of average teacher salaries. Even if there were a $1 billion worth of concessions, all of it could have come from non-teaching union members. The MEA uses this figure without differentiating teachers from non-teachers.

Along the same lines, the union says that nearly all districts require their employees to pay for part of their health insurance premiums. Again, no distinction is made to show which employees they're referring to here. In fact, just last year, we found that teachers in about 300 districts contributed nothing to health insurance premiums.

Finally, the union claims that wage freezes are now a commonplace occurrence throughout districts. Once again, no distinction between teachers and non-teachers is made, and the statistics that are available tell a different story. According to the Michigan Association of School Boards, base salaries for teachers operating under a union contract have increased on average by 1.5 percent annually across the state for each of the last five years. Even if some districts' teachers have agreed to across-the-board pay freezes (which would not necessarily mean a freeze to the automatic step increases built into the pay schedule), compensation increases in other districts outweigh them on a statewide basis.

When the loudest voice on Michigan public school policy confuses matters to such a degree as this, it's no wonder there's such proliferation of school myths.