The Troy Public School district had 254 teachers that made a salary of $90,000 or more in 2009. And benefits for each of those teachers are about another $30,000 or more a year, including retirement contributions.

It's that type of compensation that has many questioning whether the $300 million federal bailout approved Tuesday by Congress isn't reinforcing flawed public policy.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a $26 billion spending bill to bail out state governments. The Democrats have portrayed it as a job saver for teachers.  About $300 million will go to Michigan school districts.

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Critics say it's just keeping teacher compensation at a level that is out of whack with the private sector.

"The message is spending is more important than reforms," said Leon Drolet, director of the Michigan Taxpayers Alliance.  "This has been the message both at the federal level and the state level from politicians pretty consistently. They always find a way to raise taxes or find a way to borrow money."

"It is going to keep the money gobbling machine going for a few more months, maybe another year. It is going to stop politicians from doing the hard job, confronting special interests," Drolet said.

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm thanked the members of Congress who voted for the bill.

"I'm grateful that Congress has passed legislation that will keep Michigan teachers educating our children and ensure that our citizens have access to health care services," Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said in a press release. "For Michigan, this legislation means more than $300 million to hire or rehire teachers. These funds will help our children receive the education they need to compete in a global economy."

Michael Van Beek, the Mackinac Center For Public Policy's director of education policy, said estimates in news accounts that the bailout could save 4,700 jobs seems a stretch. He said that comes up to about $65,000 a teacher.

At $65,000, only new teachers could be hired, he said.

Union rules state that teachers with the most seniority - and usually the higher compensation - have to be hired back first if laid off, Van Beek said.

Van Beek said there was nothing in the federal bill that mentioned teachers and said the money is going to the school districts and can be spent at their discretion.

Van Beek did an analysis of 2008 spending patterns of school districts and found only 1.5 percent went to teaching and testing supplies and textbooks.Van Beek based his analysis on spending patterns of Michigan schools released in 2008 spending data provided by the Center for Educational Progress and Information. 

"It will do little more than just uphold bureaucracy that grows ever more expensive and ever more disappointing," Van Beek said about the federal bailout.


See also:

MEA Lawsuit May Be Against Policy That They Already Endorsed

The Unstable Funding Myth

School Funding Goes Up ... MEA Wants More

The Salary History of a Michigan Public School Teacher  

Union Leader's Claim of School Kids Sitting on Floors Draws More Denials

Policy Analyst Reaction: The Teacher Salary Bailout

Warren Schools: Plenty of Desks, But Not Enough Cost-Cutting?

School Employees Likely to Get Three-Quarters of $554 Million Service Tax Proposal