Fran Cullen, a retired Traverse City teacher who blogs and writes for union publications, became the latest union activist to claim that the pay at Michigan schools is so low that some teachers are forced onto food stamps. In the MEA Voice, the magazine of the state’s largest teachers union, Cullen wrote: “The pendulum is quickly swinging back to a time when teachers are now qualifying for food stamps. This will drive the best and the brightest from even considering entering the field in the first place.”

ForTheRecord says: While not impossible, an unlikely combination of circumstances would have to exist for a Michigan public school teacher to be eligible for food stamps. Even at the handful of school districts where salaries for starting teachers are as low a $30,000 a year (plus benefits), a teacher would have to be the sole source of support for a family of four to qualify for food stamps.

The starting salary for a teacher in Traverse City school district is $34,489, according to the union contract. At that level, a teacher would have to be the only breadwinner for a household of five to get food stamps.

The average teacher salary in Michigan was $62,169 in 2013-14, according to the Michigan Department of Education. At that salary, a teacher would have to be the sole source of income in a house of 10 people to be eligible for food stamps.

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