Teacher salaries a budget target

LANSING, Mich. — High teacher salaries are under the microscope in Lansing and at bargaining tables around Michigan in the face of a projected $1.6 billion state budget deficit, The Detroit News reported.

Michigan educators have continued to receive some of the nation's highest wages and benefits through a decade-long recession that cut many private-sector wages in half, The News reported.

The newspaper’s review of salary data showed that more than 300 teachers in Detroit metro districts make $100,000 or more, and the average superintendent compensation is $156,000, The News reported. The National Education Association said the average Michigan teacher made $56,096 in 2009, which is 11th highest in the nation, The News reported. The state ranked 36th overall in median income.

"I think it's way over the top," Troy resident Jim Grix, a retired industrial services salesman, told The News. "We've had these huge pay adjustments (during the recession). I think it has to filter down to everything."

Michigan Education Association spokesman Doug Pratt told The News that more teachers today pay a share of their health insurance premiums than in the past and that they also now must make a 3 percent contribution to retirement health care. Earlier media reports noted that several teachers have filed suit over the retirement contribution.

Many districts are bargaining for concessions from teachers, The News reported. Others have suggested alternatives, such as requiring districts to consolidate in an effort to reduce overhead costs, according to the News.

The Detroit News, “High teacher salaries under scrutiny in Michigan,” Nov. 18, 2010

Mackinac Center for Public Policy, “School Funding Myths: The School Employee Concession Myth.”